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The McKelvy House Scholars will host a dinner discussion Sunday evening on anger and frustration toward computers and technology and how those feelings affect society.

Dinner will begin 6 p.m. at McKelvy House, 200 High Street; RSVP by Saturday to or x4040. Led by electrical and computer engineering major JoAnna Vetreno ’06 (Oakland, N.J.), the discussion will start at 6:30 p.m. and requires no reservations.

“I got interested in the topic one day when I found myself tearing up papers and slamming my door repeatedly while swearing at my computer,” she says. “I stopped to look at myself and realized that the fact that the computer didn’t care whether I was mad or not only made me more frustrated. I have always had a huge interest in artificial intelligence.”

“People get mad at computers, cars, and telephones that don’t do what they want,” notes Vetreno, who is interested in entering the robotics and artificial intelligence fields after graduation. “With nowhere to direct this anger (since the object can’t feel the wrath of you swearing at it), where does it go? Does society get angrier as technology advances?”

Some questions to consider, she says, are: What are the effects of anger? How do these play into societal interactions when anger is not given an outlet? Frustration plays a big part too — does this feed anger?

“As technology gets more advanced, making life ‘better,’ does this just make people more angry or frustrated because they can’t understand what they’re dealing with?” asks Vetreno, citing the example of advancements in car manufacture that make fixing an engine problem without a mechanic impossible for owners because of the electronics involved.

“What I would really like to focus on is anger at technology and to where this anger is displaced,” she says. “A possible solution that I would like to focus on is giving computers feelings and emotions (artificial intelligence) so that they can react to the user’s feelings.”

In addition to participating in McKelvy House, Vetreno is a member of the Ultimate Frisbee club team, a Habitat for Humanity volunteer, and an avid rock climber.

“McKelvy has been an awesome place to live,” she says. “You get a rich variety of viewpoints and people, which can make interaction and conversations outside the discussion very interesting. I have never been surrounded by so many thought-provoking people before, so it is really cool for me.Also, it’s a very laid back, friendly atmosphere here, so I don’t feel like I’m just living in some stuffy academic house.”

Since 1962, the McKelvy House Scholars program has brought together Lafayette students with a wide range of majors and interests to reside in a historic off-campus house and share in intellectual and social activities. Weekly Sunday dinner discussions that engage the students in debate and exchange of ideas are the hallmark of the program. Most members also contribute to the annual McKelvy Papers, written on a topic of each person’s choice. McKelvy Scholars participate in activities together such as field trips to plays, concerts, and exhibits, and sponsor events for the campus as well.

Past discussions:
Nov. 9 — “Unnecessary” crimes
Nov. 2 — Genetic alteration
Oct. 26 — Social construction of gender
Oct. 19 — Greed as an economic force
Sept. 28 — Value

Categorized in: Academic News