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OP-ED: All Lectures Should Be Asynchronous and Our Eyes Should Be Replaced with Cybernetic Implants


Photo (with edits) by Héctor García / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, here at Penn we have had the esteemed privilege to learn remotely. According to many, the greatest success of remote learning has been the introduction of asynchronous lectures, which has been said to have increased the amount of knowledge retained by students by twenty-fold. The freedom to choose when you want to watch each lecture gives students flexibility in their schedules and ensures they always keep up with course material in a timely fashion. There’s no doubt about it: all lectures must immediately switch to an asynchronous format in order to maximize our overall productivity and bolster our mental well-being.

That much is clear. But I’m also going to go a step further here and suggest that our eyes be removed and replaced with cybernetic implants.

Students at Penn have a long and storied tradition of watching lectures at 1.5x speed. But what if we could go faster? With bionic retinas that can automatically scan and compile information, we would be able to put all of our lecture recordings on 150x speed, freeing up valuable time to do homework, take exams, and complain about how the sleek, cool metal of the eyeball prosthetic irritates our tender sockets.

Do we want to be left in the dust when the colossal machine that is globalization sweeps by? Or do we want to gouge out our eyeballs, excavate all of the vitreous humor, and insert spherical seeing devices designed by our top scientists and engineers into the gaps?

What would our children think of us? What would they think of us if they found out that we said “no” to substituting our own organic oculi for their vastly superior counterparts? Would you be able to look your children in the eyes (without facial recognition technology and real-time motion tracking, I might add) and admit that you were nothing but an obtuse Luddite, hopelessly clinging onto the remnants of what once was?

I hope I’m not going against the grain here. I mean, the evidence speaks for itself. Even my opponents have to concede that, invariably, technology is good, and so we are just doing the right thing when we install miniature cameras into our skulls that can light up, make little whirring noises, and display our latest iMessages. Cybernetic eyeballs have so much to offer to the modern college student; it simply boggles the mind that we haven’t done this sooner.

Penn, make all lectures asynchronous. And please, pull our eyes out by force.