The first week of Education and Digital Cultures has been really quite incredible. Not only because I am in awe at the technologies that we have been using but also the idea of cyberculture and posthumanism.
It really does boggle the mind trying to comprehend the influence that technology has on today’s society and culture, both from the perspectives of where we would be without it and the seemingly limitless places that it will take us to. It is just as difficult trying to imagine a boundary where the human race would be willing to slow technological progress and go it alone.
It is well documented that machines can make us bigger, better, faster, stronger and push us well beyond our physical capabilities, but this week I have been considering the spiritual side of machinism. Can what makes us unique and individual be enhanced through technology? There certainly seems to be an expectation that machine intervention will inevitably lead to improvement. However there is a danger that it can damage the qualities in life that make us function as humans (love, compassion, kindness etc).
Perhaps this is why this week I have noticed a paradox in human beings craving advancement but seemingly unwilling to forgo dominance that they have over the universe – and to that end I introduce you to my new friends Siri, Cortana and Alexa.
Machines help us reach limits that we simply wouldn’t be able to reach on our own. But do they help us develop as a race?
Last night I enjoyed my first experience of Togethertube with my fellow students. It was fun to have conversations during the films even if it did seem a little odd to begin with. On initial reflection, I wondered if Togethertube is what the popular reality TV show Gogglebox (Big Brother style observations of families simply watching TV) will mutate into after exposure to large doses of technology.
The clip entitled ‘Address is approximate’ had me considering posthmanism from the perspective of a robot, or perhaps the machine half of the human-machine hybrid as described by Miller (2011). I previously posted about recent technological developments having digital personas (Siri, Cortana and Alexa) and the push for machine to have life like qualities such as personalities, voices, names etc. What if it was possible for the machine to become so advanced, or become so lifelike, that they began to crave the human form in the way that humans crave the digital?
The following clip was taken from the cult sci-fi series ‘Red Dwarf’. Set 3 million years into deep space and long after the extinction of the human race, the crew of Red Dwarf consists of a human, a hologram, a human evolved from a cat and a mechanoid robot who, over time, breaks his original programming to achieve human qualities.
It again has me wondering if technology will ever have limits. Will scenes such as the one above become the cultural norm? A hybrid society of humans and machines?
Miller, V. (2011). The body and Information Technology. In Understanding digital culture (London, Sage): pp. 207-223.