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Technology knowledge questions

Technology knowledge questions

Knowledge questions (KQs) form the heart of the TOK course, and provide us with the opportunity to discuss, explore, and sometimes argue about the way in which we acquire, use, and evaluate our knowledge about the world.

Although the knowledge questions on technology that you see here link primarily to this optional theme, many of them link to other AOKs, and themes, so one of the first things to consider is how they relate to, and impact on, other aspects of the course.

Knowledge questions on the nature and scope of technology

  • These KQs 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
  • 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

Can we understand the world without understanding technology?

Can a machine ‘know’, or is knowledge a human-only construct?

How has technology affected the curation of knowledge?

How can we figure out which aspects of knowing to cognitively offload?

How do data, information, and knowledge all differ?

Knowledge questions on the relationship between technology and values

  • These KQs 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
  • 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

Does technology support or prevent us from accessing knowledge about the world?

Why is it so difficult for AI to understand human morality?

Who should be responsible for the development of ‘ethical’ technology?

How does the evolution of our understanding of technology shift our concepts of morality?

Is there sufficient evidence to justify the contention that our ethical awareness is being eroded by the way we use our smartphones?

Should all knowledge be accessible?

Knowledge questions on the communication of ideas in technology

  • These KQs 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
  • 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

Can we rely on our memory to fact-check stories we read on social media?

Has the development of technology eased the way in which we communicate ideas and concepts?

Does technological transparency help to prevent misinformation?

What are the implications of the fact that English is the primary language of the Internet?

Why does fake news spread more quickly than real news?

Knowledge questions on technology shaping – and being shaped by – our perspectives

  • These KQs 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 for exploring TOK
  • 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

What role does technology play in overcoming biases?

Are algorithms and software systems free of personal biases?

Are online communities of knowers the same as ‘real’ communities of knowers?

To what extent do social media platforms act as an ‘echo chamber’ for our beliefs?

Knowledge questions on the creation of new ideas in technology

  • These KQs 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
  • 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

In what way has technology affected the way we remember things?

Has the Internet changed the nature of knowledge?

Does technology allow us to create new knowledge, or just arrange and present existing knowledge in a new way?

Does technology merely augment our sense perception, or does it enable new ways of viewing the world?

Knowledge questions on becoming a discerning knower about technology

  • These KQs 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
  • 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

How do expert knowers use technology to filter knowledge?

How should we use technology and social media to make sense of the world without going astray?

What reliance do expert knowers have on technology to assist them with the production of knowledge?

To what extent does knowledge require checks and balances?

What steps can (and/or should) we take to avoid being manipulated by social media?

How do ‘memetic frames’ and ‘media wraparound’ clarify our understanding?

Link these KQs 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 the KQs in more depth

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.