The strengthening relationship between humans and technologies (Bell, 2001) reminds me of my previous blog post on Augmented People.
Hayles claims that “the prospect of becoming post human both evokes terror and excites pleasure” (1999:283). Maybe it is seen as a positive due some functions such as the pace maker, hearing aids, artificial limbs etc whereby it gives the illusion that the human body can last longer (eternity?) providing we replace the organics that are failing. Furthermore Moravec claims that humans can either deteriorate or embrace these new technologies (1998).
Estes comments on how becoming post human is almost inevitable, in that “The dream of the cyborg is becoming true at an exhilarating rate.” Additionally that as humans are developing their knowledge more on machines, they are also developing as humans once they are equipped with these new technologies (2013).
This is all seemingly to be quite positive; so when does it get too threatening? When do we say stop? And how life like can it be? Kevin Warwick warns that artificial intelligence is “no longer merely copying human intelligence – now it could be intelligent in its own way” (2002:1). Are we as humans scared of creating something beyond our control? This seems eerily comparable to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein novel, whereby Victor creates a monster beyond his control resulting in the demise of both the creator and the monster… should we take note of this?
Stelarc thinks not and directly tells us that we should abandon the “Frankenstein fear of tampering with bodies” (quoted by Bell 2000: 556). Moreover Stelarc gives the view that the more mechanical we are the better, in that “hollowing out the body means (…) getting rid of all the primitive bad programming – emotions, subjectivity, humanness” (Bell, 2001:144). Giving the opinion that we should let this new technology flourish and not fear of it. As Stelarc is such an advocate of post-humanism and promotes the post human manifesto (Bell, 2000).
Brooks speaks of the robot revolution as that “Our relationships with these machines will be different from all previous machines. The coming robotics revolution will change the fundamental nature of our society” (2003) So although as you can see there are many positive examples on the post human manifesto, what are the disadvantages of allowing ourselves become robots?
I cannot fathom the thought of a machine complying with what Warwick envisions in that artificial intelligence can mimic the thought process of a human being is perhaps because I am over complicating it. I believe that the human mind is constantly in flux, and due to cultural upbringing having an effect, it is too complicated to replicate. However, Marvin Minksy claims that actually people already think and behave in the way a machine does, in that we both behave in a logical systematic way (2007).
Perhaps this is why I feel so reserved to jump onto the post-human bandwagon, as although I feel positive towards creating machines to replace the squishy failing human parts as Stelarc suggests, I wonder who will ultimately control our mechanical brains and thoughts? This is something Mark Dery queries and claims that “post humanism begins to look like eternal torment rather than Edenic digital immortality” (Bell et. al. 2000:559), which rings true to Frankenstein far too similarly for my liking!
Bell, David (2001) An Introduction to Cyberculture. London: Routledge
Bell, David et Kennedy, Barbara (2000). The Cybercultures Reader. London: Routledge
Brooks, R (2003) Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us. London: Vintage Press
Estes, Adam. (2013). How close are we to full-fledged cyborgs?. Available: http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/gadgets/9308422/How-close-are-we-to-full-fledged-cyborgs. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.
Hayles, N K (1999) How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. USA: University of Chicago Press
Minksy, M (2007)The Emotion Machine: Commonsense Thinking, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of the Human Mind. London: Simon & Schuster
Moravec, H (1998) Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind. USA: Oxford University Press
Pepperell, Robert. (2013). The Posthuman Manifesto. Available: http://www.robertpepperell.com/Posthum/gener.htm. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.
Warwick, K (2002) Artificial Intelligence: The Basics. London: Routledge