Wednesday, October 15, 2008

single vision produces the worst vision

Human nature is the concept that there are a set of logical characteristics, including ways of thinking, feeling, and acting, which all ’normal’ human beings have in common.
Technology is a broad concept that deals with a species’ usage and knowledge of tools and crafts, and how it affects a species’ ability to control and adapt to its environment.

The relationship between human nature and technology is a tough one to describe, especially when I have a problem with the definition of human nature. To clarify what a ‘normal’ human being is, we will use an average American around the age of 30. For me, it would be tough to say that technology is not part of human nature. In our generation, technology is so prominent. So many lives revolve around the newest inventions and the latest technologies that it is very easy to say that technology is very much a part of human nature.

The reason I chose age 30 for my ‘normal’ human being is because of the time-frame that a 30 year-old grew up in. When someone thinks of technology nowadays, they think of computers, microchips, cell phones and all those other fancy gadgets. If I would select an older age for a norm, they would think technology is a new word that all the ‘hip youngsters’ throw around. The problem is technology is any type of tool that will affect how you adapt to your surroundings. Technologies have been around since man first discovered the wheel or how to control fire. Although technologies have changed throughout generations, they have had the same affect on human nature.

With the advancing of technology, human nature does change. Advances in science have help people live and feel life for many more years than before. Books and computers have changed the way people think; think about solving problems and life in general. The television and popular culture has changed the way almost every child in our norm acts because they want to be ‘normal’.

Technology unfortunately determines human nature. I would be as bold to say that technology is human nature in most of our normal human beings. Of course, our society is different from the rest of the actual world. One of the reasons the United States is struggling as a country is because there are no individuals. There are very few people who come up with original ideas and whose lives are not completely influenced by other people. Other people can be technology, after all, they are used as a tool to help one adapt to an environment.

“The experiences of the atomic scientists clearly show the need to take a personal responsibility, the danger that things will move too fast, and the way in which a process can take on a life of its own. We can, as they did, create insurmountable problems in almost no time flat. We must do more thinking up front if we are not to be similarly surprised and shocked by the consequences o our inventions.”[2]

Joy was not the only author who warns us of unknown powers. In “The House of the Seven Gables”, Holgrave tells a story to Phoebe about a Maule ancestor who uses hypnotism to control Alice Pyncheon. The actions by the Maule ancestor lead to the death of Alice. This is in comparison to Joy’s writings because Maule was accused of dealing with something he did not understand, hypnotism, the same way Joy accuses us of not understanding the technology we are inventing. In Hawthorne’s story, he gives us hope through Holgrave. Holgrave really likes Phoebe and could use the same powers that Maule used on Alice. Holgrave holds back though. He thinks about hypnotizing Phoebe, but he looked back at the mistakes in the past and made the correct decision not to play with his unknown power. Holgrave sticks to what he knows, the basics, and eventually wins Phoebe over.

Bill Joy warned of the problems that come with unknown technologies. Unfortunately, many people did not listen and got into problems so quickly that they did not even know they were in trouble. The people of our time are so reliant on technologies that they do not know what to do with themselves when they do not have their iPod or computer to use. There is hope for these lost electric sheep. When people are separated from these machines and returned to nature, that’s when real human nature kicks in, Survival. Although many people get caught up in technologies and different ways of life, in the back of everyone’s mind is survival. After all, what else are we doing here?

The human mental capability, combined with an erect body carriage that frees the arms for manipulating objects, has allowed humans to make far greater use of tools than any other species. It seems we were bound to let technology overpower us because of our physical attraction towards it. I have no problem with technology being an aspect of our lives; after all, there is no way to avoid it. Before you are even born, you are surrounded by all sorts of technology and as the old saying goes, ‘you are what you eat’. The problem I do have is when someone lets technology overwhelm their life and threaten their human nature. When this happens, these people become like cyborgs or machines. Haraway talks about these types of people. “They could not achieve man’s dream, only mock it. They were not man, an author to himself, but only a caricature of that masculinist reproductive dream. “[1] Yes, it has some other meanings, but Haraway is trying to say that without originality you might as well be a robot. The only way to get ahead in life is to make your own decisions and not let others choose your destiny.

“Single vision produces worse illusions than double vision or many-headed monsters.”[1]

In today’s world, there are too many people focused on the small picture, focusing on things they think are important. Really, they are closing their mind off to the truly great things in life. The only way to really learn is to be open-minded. Many vantage points are always better than one. There is more clarity in a television screen when there are more pixels. I am all for accepting technology and allowing it to be a part of our lives. In fact, I do not think there is any way to avoid it. Technology cannot rule the lives of any more generations. I know it will be a part of their lives, but they must learn to think, feel, and act for themselves. Technology is an aspect of human nature. It may alter us, the same way a child alters his parents, but it cannot dictate who we are as human beings.

[1] Haraway, Donna “A Cyborg Manifesto”
[2] Joy, Bill “Why the future doesn’t need us.”


sgl5 said...

this is option 2

Adam Johns said...

I don't object to your definitions, but I am curious about them - why do these definitions seem important or effective to you?

Why on earth would you define "human nature" using a 30 yr old American? You're trying to define a general category using a highly specific subcategory. Would you define the concept of "shapes" as "squares," because squares are an example of a shape? I sort of - but only sort of - see what you're getting at in terms of generational change. It needed clarified.

When you claim that technology changes human nature, you don't relate it back at all to your definition of human nature - or, indeed, of technology. You seem to be arguing that people change, or cultures changes - but you defined human nature as something more than that initially.

I have no idea where you get the idea that there are no individuals in the U.S.; I don't even know what you mean, really. If this was important, you needed to explain it a little more.

Your argument shifts again. This material represents a big change: "There is hope for these lost electric sheep. When people are separated from these machines and returned to nature, that’s when real human nature kicks in, Survival." It seems to me that you're dealing with a third implicit definition of human nature here; human nature as the biological need to survive. How does this relate to your previous ideas about human nature?

The contradictions continue through to the end. "Technology is an aspect of human nature. It may alter us, the same way a child alters his parents, but it cannot dictate who we are as human beings." So does technology change human nature or not? It seems that you want to have it both ways not only throughout the paper, but also at the very ending.

Summary: Your goals and interests shift, seemingly, from sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph. Some of the things you say are interesting, but they don't add up to a consistent argument - and you offer almost no evidence for any of your positions.