• jmblanusa

The Vietnam War & #AIEthics


For the 3rd time in as many years I have helped a student write a paper on Tim O'Brien's novel The Things They Carried.


I love this book. I would love to teach this book.


O'Brien uses a combination of non-fictional events, told in fiction, with the real Tim O'Brien and a fictional O'Brien to tell of "his" time fighting in the Vietnam War.


The various literary devices he uses, and the stories he tells combine to teach us about truth, bias, memory, confusion, values, ethics, and all the emotional, psychological, and political instability that are part and parcel to the Vietnam War.


It's a perfect book to help students not only learn about the war, but also about authority and assumptions, about confusion and courage, and how we create our own truths from memory and from what we're told.


Story after story brings the reader to the questions of "what is fact?" "what is knowledge?" "how are my feelings affecting what I'm seeing? what I'm doing?" "what happened to what I believed in?" "what do I believe in?" "what the h*ck is happening?" "what is courage?" "what is an enemy?" "who are the bad guys?" "who's my enemy?" "what must I do to protect myself?" "how will I survive?" "how will I live?" "what do we carry?".


In reading this book and addressing these questions, students are pressed to face the reality of unconscious & conscious biases, assumptions, personal preferences, how we "know".....and become more mindful (as in "aware") of how these features affect every aspect of our lives. How we carry them throughout ouir lives, and impart them in all we do.


It seems to me The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien would be a great book to help lead discussions on bias and truth when it comes to #AIEthics et al.


I'd love to build that curriculum. Anyone interested?

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