All posts by melaniebell

The NeoHuman and the Cyborg


In the above clip, taken from the 2001 film Waking Life, Eamonn Healy, biochemical researcher and professor for St. Edward’s University, discusses the possibilities for humanity as we evolve from cycle-based biological group evolution into a individualized technological neuro-biological evolutionary paradigm. As THEBRYCYCLE and CLARKAYWA discussed in their respective posts below, the possibilities of redefinition of life as it evolves into Transhumanism (or the Neohumanist concept of the elevation of humanity to a new level of universality as Healy describes in his scene in Waking Life) is not some far off possibility. The possibilities of AI and Transhumanism is something that could be said to be lurking in the shadows just around the next corner of our popular culture awareness

But, what if, anthropologically speaking, we are already there? What if we are all already cyborgs?

Cyborg Anthropologist Amber Case hypothesizes about just this question in her TEDTalks video (posted below). Amber defines her work as studying the interaction between human beings and computers, and more specifically, how our “relationship with information is changing the way cultures think, act, and understand [our] worlds” [1].  

If we define the term cyborg, as Amber Case does, as: “an organism to which exogenous components have been added for the purpose of adapting to environments” and apply that definition, as she has done, to the media landscape that we all live in today, then we are left with the uneasy idea that our progression towards transhumanity, or neohumanity, has already begun, and has been applicable to our way of life for some time.

As Ken pointed out, via our ongoing discussions about the literary works of Tiptree , Gibson, Cyberpunk and postmodernism, our way of life is constantly mediated to us via social networks and technology, and those mediated selves are as much of part of who we are in society as our human-to-human interactions are. The line between technology and our traditional selves is blurred, almost beyond recognition for most of us in the technological, mediated landscape we live in. Our phones, tablets, laptops, computers, and other technology has become an add-on, or an extension of our humanity as we interact with our environment. Just because these tools of technology are not implanted in our bodies (yet) doesn’t mean that it is not representative of our projected selves, nor does it mean that it is not used as a tool to interact with our world, just as our hands or words do. Further to that, our societal reliance on capitalism, and capitalism’s entrenchment in the commodification of daily life activities and forms of pseudo-individualism, supports this progression. In that, I think the progression towards transhumanity/neohumanity has already begun and began, arguably, with the invention of the telephone in 1876.

We Are Cyborg

 

 

[1] cited from Amber Case’s bio on her Cyborg Anthropology web site (Cyborg Anthropology)

Do the women of SF share a common mythological ancestor?

William Gibson recently wrote on his Twitter account, regarding Molly Millions, that:

“In 1984, amazingly, [the] idea of [a] protagonist’s female buddy kicking more and deadlier ass was considered radical and outre”.

meatpuppet

There is no question in my mind that Gibson is right, and that in popular culture, in the decades prior to Molly Millions arrival on the literary scene, many of the women were characterized as damsels in distress rather than ass-kicking warriors. For me, it was Molly’s innate differentness that initially drew me into reading and re-read Neuromancer when I was 15, because, at that age she was like nothing I had ever seen or read before.

                However, how unique is Molly’s characterization as a masculinized female mercenary really? The late mythologist and writer Joseph Campbell wrote in several of his books, including Hero with a Thousand Faces and The Power of Myth, that heroes/heroines throughout history come from a shared set of mythological touch stones. For Campbell, and somewhat Carl Jung before him, it was truly possible that all our heroes and heroines arrived at our feet in the shape of similar archetypes, having followed similar paths. Could Molly, and the other driven, autonomous women that popped up after her inception, be echoes of mythological identities and journeys from the past? Could female protagonists that display an abundance of masculine traits and/or feminine strength just be an echo of Greek mythology’s Athena, for example?

This is my first attempt at making a video. If you watch it there is a cat in it for you