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Real-world issues about technology

Real-world issues about technology

These real-world issues about technology will help you to explore knowledge questions, analyse the latest events and issues related to this optional theme, and apply TOK terms, ideas, and concepts to authentic situations.

You can also use these issues as discussion points within lessons, examples to support your essay arguments, and case studies to show how TOK manifests in world around us in your exhibition commentary.

Real-world issues on the nature and scope of technology

  • These issues on knowledge & technology relate to Big Question 1, our first BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to the nature and scope of technology, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

An Atlantic article arguing that smartphones have changed the way we perceive space.

This New Statesman article looks at the way we try to digitally ‘hoard’ experiences, by taking photos or making videos of events, and the effect this may have on our relationship with reality.

A Guardian article, outlining some of the ways in which new technology is used to view the world.

Brian Resnick at Vox looks at the effect that relying on photographs to help us remember places and events has on our capacity to remember.

Real-world issues on the relationship between technology and values

  • These issues on knowledge & technology relate to Big Question 2, our second BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to technology and ethics, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

A Wired article, looking at how communications technology is seeking to understand our emotions more comprehensively.

A Verge article that looks at whether it is possible to answer moral questions by consulting an online AI bot called Delphi.

A Guardian article, focusing on artists Zorowar Sidhu and Rob Swainston’s exhibition dealing with the theme of doomscrolling.

A Vox article, looking at how social media and smartphones are “wreaking havoc” on our attention spans, and possibly making us less ethical.

Real-world issues on the communication of ideas in technology

  • These issues on knowledge & technology relate to Big Question 3, our third BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices of technology, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

A CNN article, looking at the launch of Donald Trump’s new social media app, ‘Truth Social’.

A CNN article, which examines the assertion of Wired’s editor Gideon Lichfield that the metaverse is a “terminological land grab”.

A Telegraph article, looking at how ‘false flag’ operations have been created in the current Ukraine Crisis.

A Smithsonian article, which explores how whilst the technology of deep fake videos is new, the intention to mislead viewers has always driven image-makers.

Real-world issues on technology shaping – and being shaped by – our perspectives

  • These issues on knowledge & technology relate to Big Question 4, our fourth BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to perspectives & context related to technology, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Good KQs ask how we know about the world (second-order knowledge), rather than what we know about the world (first-order knowledge)
  • Being able to tell the difference between first and second-order knowledge can be difficult, but it is the most important attribute of successful TOK thinking

An FT interview with the philosopher David Chalmers, who has just argued that the “virtual reality is genuine reality”. 

A Wired article, assessing how the ‘age of Zoom’ has changed our perception of our selves.

Real-world issues on the creation of new ideas in technology

  • These issues on knowledge & technology relate to Big Question 5, our fifth BQ units for TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices of technology, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

A YouTube video, in which Mark Zuckerberg introduces his ‘vision’ for the Metaverse – the “joyful successor to the mobile internet”.

An Atlantic article that explores the increasing extent to which the Internet is an unreliable depository of knowledge, as ‘content drift’ and ‘link rot’ become endemic.

A Smithsonian article and video, which looks at the way ‘Beethoven’s’ 10th symphony has been completed by AI.

A Big Think article, exploring how cell phone data is being used to redesign cities.

Real-world issues on becoming a discerning knower about technology

  • These issues on knowledge & technology relate to Big Question 6, our final BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices of technology, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

A Conversation article, which looks at the problem of ‘epistemic exhaustion’, what causes it, and strategies to deal with it.

A Wired article, that considers why the QAnon conspiracy has taken root, and the role of technology in perpetuating its central creed. 

A Big Think article, examining the way social media leaves us “isolated, scared and tribal” rather than connecting and uniting us.

A Big Think video looking at quite a few aspects of knowledge and technology, but with a focus on peer review.

Link these issues to the exhibition

Our TOK exhibition prompt decoder helps you to understand each of the 35 IA prompts, link them to the core and optional themes, and the 12 key TOK concepts, and explore them via quotes, questions, TED talks, and media sources. Access the decoder here.

Explore related events and issues

Investigating Issues offers you a completely new way to plan and teach TOK. The resource gathers together over 120 major global issues, provides a collection of media sources to explore each one, and suggests ways to link them to the different elements of the TOK course and to the 12 key concepts.

Unpack these issues & link them to TOK

Our sixty-six Exploration Point documents (updated every month) help you delve deeper into TOK via media sources, unpacking ideas, guidance on the key concepts, and other tips. HERE is an example of a EP document (for history & perspectives) – join us to gain access to the other sixty-five!

Subscribe to the TOK newsletter

Our TOK newsletter helps you explore the most important events and issues going on today, and fully grasp how TOK concepts manifest in the real world. Read a recent edition here, subscribe to the free version here, and gain access to the premium version by joining theoryofknowledge.net.