The Uncanny Valley and Higher Ed

Read this today and can’t say I’m that surprised. It’s an article that’s pretty much circulated and discussed on an annual basis for the past few years.

For me, I am reminded, when reading this, of the Uncanny Valley – the concept that robots repulse us the closer they get to approximating human attributes (think Tom Hanks in Polar Express or Jeff Bridges in the new Tron). Though there is a larger argument about the capitalist underpinnings of the academy, I find it interesting how there is a building mass of individuals approaching professorship, despite the steep drop-off in terms of job opportunities. The analogy falls apart under scrutiny, but in general, it feels like becoming a professor–like being human­–is the pinnacle to which grad students are reaching. However, the closer they get to finishing, the more repulsive the environment actually becomes: few jobs and underpaid temporary positions.

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