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?
Having played around with IFTTT and my WordPress site I once again find myself amazed at the interoperability of technologies and the intertwining of web based services. It is fascinating to think that at some point in time humans had the capacity to invent the computer and microprocessor that nowadays can surpass the physical and cognitive ability of its inventors.
I am working through the core readings for Block 1 of Education and Digital Cultures and have frequently paused to consider a life without technology. At the ripe old age of 30 I can remember the days when mobile phones were not every day commodities and to get in touch with my friends I had to walk round to their house and knock of their front door. In what seems like such a short space of time it is almost impossible to comprehend how people functioned without the technology that we now take for granted.
It is everywhere.
It is provides entertainment, education and information. It is influencing how we shop, travel, work, think, exercise, bank, communicate, remember, create, and navigate. If electricity was to disappear would it be the end of the world as we know it? I’m not sure that we would know where to start.
It is almost ironic that some of the most recent advancements in technology have shifted away from an input/output methodology towards a digital persona such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana or Amazon’s Alexa. Are we looking to push technological advancement to new limits but save face by giving computers names, voices and personalities? This, perhaps, seems like the human race clinging on to the seemingly fading idea that “man is better than machine”.