Author:Gerard Briscoe (Glasgow School of Art)
Paper short abstract:
The fourth discontinuity to be overcome is the distinction between humans and machines. We integrate technology when it is enabling, but unintended consequences results in disabling effects. Including, when the balance of control becomes lost and integration becomes degenerative.
Paper long abstract:
It has been suggested that the fourth discontinuity to be overcome is the distinction between humans and machines. We consider posthumanism to include the range of debates that examine the potential changes in the human body and its relationship with technology. So, debating what is human, especially with regards to our relationships with technology, in which humans can be seen as mixtures of machine and organism. Cybernetics can be seen as the foundational step in this fourth discontinuity, which governs the study of regulatory systems and self-governing mechanisms. This is because it was the point when machines and humans were imagined as self-regulating patterned information processing systems. These cyborg constructions are the conversion of the material into the informational in two ways; as the flesh into data (extropanism) and the conversion of data into flesh (technology embodiment). Therefore, the realisation of the posthuman will be defined by the nature of the relationship between the human and technology in cyborg constructions. We integrate technology when it is enabling rather than disabling, but unintended consequences can result in disabling effects. Including, when the balance of control becomes lost and the integration becomes degenerative. For example, e-mail has become ubiquitous in modern life, as access has become available via smartphones and tablets. However, this ubiquity has created the phenomenon of being unable to 'unplug' from work email. We conclude by considering that risks emerge, similarly to open data sets, from the combination of elements rather than the individual elements themselves.
What does it mean to be Human in the 21st Century?