Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Metal Gods

Jamais Cascio:

Our technologies are not going to rob us (or relieve us) of our humanity. Our technologies are part of what makes us human, and are the clear expression of our uniquely human minds. They both manifest and enable human culture; we co-evolve with them, and have done so for hundreds of thousands of years. The technologies of the future will make us neither inhuman nor posthuman, no matter how much they change our sense of place and identity.

Technology is part of who we are. What both critics and cheerleaders of technological evolution miss is something both subtle and important: our technologies will, as they always have, make us who we are—make us human. The definition of Human is no more fixed by our ancestors’ first use of tools, than it is by using a mouse to control a computer. What it means to be Human is flexible, and we change it every day by changing our technology. And it is this, more than the demands for abandonment or the invocations of a secular nirvana, that will give us enormous challenges in the years to come.

I'm looking forward to it.

We could very well destroy ourselves with our technological power, but we could just as easily be destroyed by a meteor or a mutated virus, even if we did "return" to an idyllic, Edenic existence. The human race will, in all likelihood, join the 99% of all species that once existed but have since gone extinct, only to be replaced by others. (Hey, it's just statistics.) When you realize that, it takes a lot of the moralizing fervor away from discussions of the pros and cons of technological developments. But a lot of people apparently still yearn for the dubious comfort to be found in a belief in predestination...

(Thanks to Shanna for the link)