Referencing the Learning Resources for this module, choose any question in the research project list and answer it in relation to posthumanism. In other words treat posthumanism as a new technology or technological way of being.
Posthumanism is essentially the interlinking of humans and technology. This could range from artificial intelligence to a human that has prosthetics or technological enhancements fused into their bodies. But how did this term even come about? What is so wrong with humans and their ability to function that we need to incorporate such technology into our lives? What is the problem for which posthumanism is the solution?
The answer is everything. All aspects of our lives involve problems and solutions. This technology that is being referred to as posthumanism has the ability to solve a vast majority of the problems humans encounter and create. Steven Poole, although a strong supporter against posthumanism, discusses a few of these problems as well as new problems that could be created in his article “Slaves to the algorithm”. First referring to a chess match between world champions, then to vehicle automation, crime algorithms and psychotherapy applications, Poole is able to illustrate the involvement posthumanism already has in our present day. Before he argues that humans are quickly rationing off our conscious thoughts and judgements he recognizes the need for improvement. Whether it’s saving lives with vehicle automation, or making more accurate decisions for prosecutions and even convenience of psychotherapy applications on your phone, they’re all problems that could potentially be solved more efficiently through, the idea of, posthumanism.
All things considered, humans are capable of solving these problems, but there are plenty of benefits to the population by incorporating technology into things like medicine and decision making. There’s a few questions I’m still asking myself. Although more efficient and usually more accurate, should humans be giving up their intellectual judgements to machines? Once we affect the natural state of our body, are we then considered a posthuman?
Personally I would have to argue opposite of Poole, for a few different reasons. Regardless of how the term is defined, people are human and technology is nothing more than materials, machines and/or programming that a human created. Therefore, humans are still making judgements because we’re creating the technology. We just might be automating judgements instead of making them on a case by case basis with human interaction. I see how that could be an issue, but if overall technology can be used to more efficiently solve problems and enhance our way of living, it’s a good practice.
Poole, Steven. “Slaves to the Algorithm.” Aeon, Aeon, 13 May 2013, aeon.co/essays/which-decisions-should-we-leave-to-algorithms.
· What is the problem for which this technology is the solution?
Posthumanism solves the problem of how we will adapt in the future. If we look at nature and how it progressed under rigorous circumstances “effectively performing a huge computation involving trillions of evolving agents of varying information processing capability in a complex environment (the Earth)”(Hsu, 2015). To go from the first DNA to Homo Sapiens it took billions of years. Evolution was a lot of trial and error, but eventually worked itself out into something sustainable and intelligent. The underlying message is adaptability. How will humans adapt to the advances of technology and intelligence for the future. The answer is posthumanism.
Machine intelligence experts have predicted that computers will gain human-level abilities around the year 2050 and superhuman abilities in 2080. Besides this rapid growth of technology, we will be evolving as humans ourselves. We already have the technology to manipulate human genome sequences like the selection of embryos during vitro fertilization, and other methods have been developed to unravel genetic sequences of complex traits like human cognitive functions. This technology of editing genomes will eventually be used in human reproduction in the future.
Cognitive ability is influenced by thousands of genetic loci, once we acquire the technology to improve and enhance these genome. It would be possible to achieve about 100 standard deviations of improvement, resulting in IQs of over 1000. Cognitive engineering and genome editing will produce humans with the highest cognitive abilities the world will ever have seen.
· It is safe to say that as machines get smarter in 2050, we can assume humans who manufacture and program these machines will be smarter, which will lead to the ability to modify DNA to create smarter minds. In this technologically advanced era, man and machine will have to adapt to coexist, in doing so, both can learn and enhance our overall lives. There will come a point in time where there is a bridge between man and tech, and we will not know the difference. “Humans interacting with ever-improving computer minds, we will experience a future with a diversity of both human and machine intelligences” (Hsu, 2015). What is the problem for which this technology is the solution?
The problem that posthumanism can solve is essentially preservation of life and ensuring the human race does not suffer from extinction. Before the human race is capable of this type of self-preservation, there must be an important transition that takes place in that artificial intelligence (AI) must be defined as a conscious entity. Over time AI will be a competitive rival or perhaps surpass the human brains processing capabilities and will be indistinguishable during human interactions. In the article Artificial Intelligence and Human Nature written by Charles T. Rubin, he writes how the study of the human brain will permit humans to replicate its functions into machine circuitry. The future may hold such advancements that generate brain imaging giving human kind the ability to create a “cognitive map” for individual brain functions. Furthermore, the individual’s mind can be duplicated in some combination of hardware and software.
Under this new technology of posthumanism there can be further implications as a result of this type of capability. The brain obeys the laws of physics; however, posthumanism could advance brain power even further, escalating the potential for intelligent beings to far surpass what humans are able to do. This type of evolution could potentially lead to “organic” human kind’s extinction. The initial intent might be to preserve or save human life, but over time people may prefer a more advanced body in the form of an artificial being. Hybrid intelligent machines may have an exceptional longevity, no need to reproduce, and we will see streamline in diversity. The human species is still young on this planet, and it is possible that we have as yet seen little of what is possible for us to become.
Hsu, S. (September 3, 2015). Why human intelligence and AI will co-evolve. Retrieved December 4, 2017. http://nautil.us/issue/28/2050/dont-worry-smart-machines-will-take-us-with-them.