In writing this post I have decided to ignore as much as possible the obvious state that humanity now finds itself in.
It goes without saying that we are in a mess.
Who we are, is defined by who we are not, and the practices of exclusion that define identity have to be recognized – an issue we are already witnessed in the context of online communities like Facebook.
In the ‘cyber’ world, it is possible to have multiple identities and ‘selves’.
While technologies have become a ‘part’ of humanity, it should be considered, I believe, how they are going to change the way we exist and, moreover, to what extent they are really necessary in human life.
The 21st Century is, more than ever, a century ‘flooded’ by the invention and expansion of new technologies. These are varied: we use smart phones, computers and other devices that supposedly ‘enhance’ the way we communicate between ourselves and also socially interact.
These changes certainly influence several human aspects, such as identity, personality and much more.
It is not possible, anymore, to discern between who is actually sitting on the other side of the screen, and what is being said online, in a chat, for instance.
Our bodies have become transcendent in the sense that they are; in some cases
not even regarded as necessary anymore. Bodies are thus not natural, lively and active agents through which we encounter and perceive others and the world,
but have become ‘replaceable.’
Technology is proposing a complete ‘denial’ of our bodily existence. A ‘body’ not that is not useful at all anymore, is becoming a recyclable item rather than rotting or burnt to a cinder.
Imagine a future scenario in which extremely powerful computerized minds are simulated and shared across autonomous virtual or robotic bodies. Given the malleable nature of such super-intelligence— they won’t be limited by the hardwiring of DNA information – one can reasonably assume that they will be free of the limitations of a single material body, or the experience of a single lifetime, allowing them to tinker with their own genetic code, integrate survival knowledge directly from the learning of others,and develop a radical new form of digital evolution that modifies itself through nearly instantaneous exponential cycles of imitation and learning, and passes on its adaptation to successive generations of “SELF”
Not only would the lineage of such beings be perpetually enhanced by automation, leading to radical new forms of social relationships and values, but the systems that realize or govern those values would likely become the instinctual mechanism of a synchronized and sentient ” technocultural mind.”
One could say that are approaching such an era, and such a ‘technological leap’ must, or at least should, be assessed critically. It seems crucial to understand to what end, and how, technology can or should be used.
It is important to create ethical boundaries when it comes to our use of new technology.
A minority of wealthy persons and influential companies will have power over biotechnology and others, thus restricting the access of the public to this information.
Our body is an important instrument through which we perceive and discover the world. This means that the body can also be plural, malleable and ‘fluid, however, it is important; in my view, that it does not lose its essence. Our bodily features are embedded in the social world, and they are part of culture, as well as nature.
We need to create restrictions to the access of new technologies, by engaging with ethical questionings that allow a better understanding of what it actually means to have these technologies changing the way we exist.
It could be said that the boundary between what it means to be human has been crossed and it seems not be possible anymore to argue that being human means having certain physical qualities, a consciousness, and so for this post it is quite a complex task to address what does humanity mean.
Because of not only the varied theoretical concepts involved but the understanding of our relations to new technologies; also, to how these technologies have entirely changed the idea of ” what it is to be human” We’re not the same species we were 100,000 years ago. We’re not going to be the same species tomorrow. We will become more and more software-driven species. Change the software change the species.
The question of ‘what it means to be human’ is deeply rooted in our bodily experiences, feelings,sensations and perceptions. It is with them that we give meaning to our existence. We are shaped by these bodily experiences, as culture and its technological advances shape us.
We should not, hence, give more importance to one in comparison to the other.
Digital information and technology are important to us, until a point. After this, our humanity as a ‘natural resource’ must take head and claim its right to exist as biological, finite and, above all, human beings.
This cannot be replaced by technology.
That said being human these days is closely related to machines and other ‘artificial’ traits.
I suppose that in this is the start of age of ‘cyber cultures’ and new technologies.
We are on the threshold of genetically engineered ‘humans’‘ Genetically engineered’ beings that bear very similar qualities to humans but will they be dependable on something ‘greater’ than themselves, namely, their maker: The‘genetic engineer.’
Humanity is intertwined within biology and culture but humans are now capable of distancing themselves from the world, and thus creating an awareness of their own place in it.
This is, I believe, a crucial point that needs to be taken into consideration when discussing how new technologies influence our life and thus completely change the meaning of who we are. We should be able to reflect upon ourselves, the way we deal with new technologies, and, more than ever, we need to be aware of how these will change our ways of life.
A multifaceted discussion on these topics will surely help better elucidate this new form of existence and the consequences it might bring with it.
Each of us has our precious things, and as we care for them we locate the essence of our humanity.
In the end, it is because of our great capacity for caring that I remain optimistic we will confront the dangerous issues now before us.
Helmuth Plessner’s Philosophical Anthropology is largely based upon the idea that being human means existing in a society, it means not just to exist individually, but to be shaped by others, as well as by oneself.
Being human is having a will to changing one’s destiny and life.
However in transhumanist visions, materiality is seen as an inactive, passive, manipulate substance, and matter is interrupted as code, a program that can be changed according to individual wishes.
The fragility of our body is being lost nowadays, the idea that we, and thus our bodies, are finite is changing. The body has lost its ‘expressivity’ and meaningfulness, it has become but a dull and unnecessary object.
Now that we know the blueprint of Life cross species transplantation is around the corner.
While the precise form these changes will take is unclear, recent history suggests that they are likely to be welcome at first and progressively advanced. It appears reasonable that human intelligence will become obsolete, economic wealth will reside primarily in the hands of super-intelligent machines, and our ability to survive will lie beyond our direct control.
Genetic Editing could lead to the Gene Rich and genetic discrimination leading to greater Inequality.
Man is said to have evolved from monkeys and apes…. but we still have monkeys and apes.