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Seminar on Role of Critical Thinking in Engineering by Dr. Asim Sajjad Akhtar

23rd May, 2018

Critical thinking' in contemporary higher education culture has become a sort of buzzword. Universities strive to teach their students to think critically, without taking a moment to discern the true meaning and implications of the concept at issue. As a result, much of what passes off today as 'critical thinking' is actually a call to acquiesce to the demands of conformism. We urgently need to reclaim this concept as our world is being transformed unprecedentedly by the technological logic of what has been termed the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Today ICTs have become the dominant mode of experiencing the everyday life. The forces altering our sense of being in the world, physical and intellectual realities, ways of relating to each other, and categories of space and time were largely unleashed by the recent progress in the field of engineering. These forces are reshaping our social and political-economic order in a radical way, so much so that desires to solve the pressing global problems of our time are now being expressed through the logic of big-tech.

Is there a unifying philosophical perspective to these changes? How to make sense of the fuss around them? Can we conceptualise the relation between engineering and social problems? Is our seemingly isolated laboratory experience as engineers immune to the logic of larger social forces? In short, what are the imperatives of thinking critically in the age of Silicon Valley?