A Refresher on Posthumanism – Dependency on Gadgetry

Norbert Wiener discussed the idea of cybernetics and how it could help maximize our potential as humans in an increasingly chaotic and unpredictable world. He believed that humans could use technology and take advantage of it to create fully automated systems that make our lives so much easier; this would give the controller immense power and control. In our world, we are dominated by the desire to communicate using technology and to have full control over these technologies–since we thrive on control and interaction in our new media and technology. However, Wiener warns that people could be enslaved to this sort of technology and machinery; it is becoming quite clear that many are becoming controlled by their technology.

Technology makes the individual user capable of full control but we are now a collective using relatively similar forms of technology. For the differences between things like Blackberry’s, iPhones, Androids, or Windows phones, the underlying theme remains the same; they are all smart phones that make our lives easier. We are becoming a collective that uses technology nearly 24/7. After class, how many people do you see reach instinctively into their pockets or purses and check their phones? How many do you see plug themselves into their world of music?

Hayles notes in her chapter, citing Weizenbaum, that humans must maintain control over our technologies. She states that if we “Sacrifice this, and we humans are hopelessly compromised, contaminated with mechanic alieness in the very heart of our humanity” (23). She later explains that the posthuman world offers ways for humans to maintain autonomy and enhance our well-beings so that we become more flexible and coordinated in the environment around us (25).

Reading her chapter, and from what we know of posthumanism, I imagined it to be similar to what Stelarc had presented, that the body is obsolete. However, from seeing things in day to day life, we’re not exactly there yet. What we do have is human dependency on gadgetry and electronics. From phones to iPods/MP3 players to even laptops, humans are becoming intertwined with technology, like Wiener had envisioned; while we are not physically connected to our devices, we do have a mental dependency on them to get us through our day to day lives.


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