Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Technology alters Human Nature (option 2

“The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.” -Warren G. Bennis. This is how I feel technology is making human nature. Slowly but surely, we are being taken over by technology. Before you know it the technology will be controlling us. Many of the readings this semester we had convey this certain aspect. In “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” Dick showed us this precisely. In other works like Joy, Lyotard, and Hawthorne – technology can take over or threaten us. So like the quote I stated, one day I think that technology will control human nature. We are an aspect of technology because we organize different things to be who we are. People’s intuition about what the future could hold drives this – what we can know or what we can figure out about our past -- could ultimately drive us to danger.

I first wanted to define what I think human nature is and what technology is to me. Human Nature, according to Locke, we are born with a blank slate and through perception and sensation we learn different things (Kemerling 2). I feel as though human nature is what we learn from experience. If we never experienced anything we would not be with human nature. This makes me think of a movie I watched in Psychology 0100 freshman year. A girl was caged up until she was a teenager. She never walked or was social with anyone but maybe her parents. When they found her she couldn’t walk right and she couldn’t talk. They tried to use flash cards and different techniques to have her be a normal person but it was a lot of work. This is what I feel is human nature – having perception and sensation of the world around us.

Technology on the other hand is, as we said in class, the study of technique. I found a definition online that says “A specific definition for the word "technology" is difficult to determine, because "technology" can refer to material objects of use to humanity, such as machines, hardware or utensils, but can also encompass broader themes, including systems, methods of organization, and techniques(What is technology? 1)”. Lyotard tells us that “technology wasn’t invented by us humans. Rather the other way around. As anthropologists and biologists admit, even the simplest life forms, infusoria are already technical devices. Any material system is technological if it filters information useful to its survival, if it memorizes and processes that information and makes inferences… (Lyotard 12)”. I feel as though technology is what Lyotard is saying – human nature is technology as a way of organizing our perceptions and sensations.

Technology is a part of human nature is a broad sense, but I feel that technology could surpass human nature. Joy warns us that our own voluntary actions can be danger to us (Joy 11). Could it just be our human nature of learning that is the danger? Learning is how we become who we are and how we are all different. Our knowledge wants to know more about our past and future. I think that knowledge in turn creates human nature. I also think that we use technology to gain knowledge. If we had a graph of human nature and technology, I think that it would be at an exponential rate until one day the technology passes our human nature. Closer and closer one day that technology could surpass human nature.

For example, in “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep?” we find no one can tell any more between the technology we created and the human nature we used to have. I think that at this point there are certain moments that we can see the human nature of perception shine through the technology. For instance when Rick said that Luba had a wonderful voice and was good for society he had a split instance of being a real human with sensation and perception (Dick 120). I feel as though if that world they lived in kept going that technology would over take everything. Our human nature was being diminished when they created things like robots or the memory destroyer that we can not even tell the difference from human nature and technology. As said before I think that technology can over take human nature at some point if it keeps going.

Lyotard’s task in his essay is how to make thought without a body possible (Lyotard 13). I think that this simple concept from Lyotard concerns how technology could surpass human nature. I feel that the only way to go about the task he proposes in his essay is with technology. This would surpass human nature because our thought really would be technology. He also says that this way of simulating conditions of life is used today in things like genetics and tissue synthesis (Lyotard 12). That means that technology is getting closer to surpassing our human nature.

I think technology alters and threatens human nature. It alters us because now we grow up with computers and knowledge at our fingers. In times before us knowledge was harder to find. We have become lazy in this aspect. If we hear that we have to go to the library to research because we can not use the internet we groan. Why should I go do that when I have all the knowledge at my fingertips? The sensation and perception part is becoming easier and easier to gain. I think that can alter human nature of experiencing different things for our self. Technology to me obviously threatens human nature and can destroy it. Robots and/or nuclear war, just like in Androids, can over take us. In my synopsis before I said that technology is a part of human nature. Then, human nature threatens human nature.

In “Blade Runner”, technology alters human nature. At the very beginning of the novel they use the mood organ (Dick 12). This all in all definitely alters human nature. Personality is what makes us human and to take it all away to change your mood on how you want changes the real person. Personality is a big part of human nature. Our experience can make our personality and if we do not even have our real personality that alters our human nature. World War Terminus also alters human nature. Before they did not think animals were sacred but now they do (Dick 6). This alters our empathy towards things that are close to human nature. Anything that is close to how it was before people become obsessed with. Perhaps that means that people don’t want technology to alter their human nature.

Another example could be in “The House of the Seven Gables”. Holgrave used a new form of pictures and paintings when he was at the house. Although he sounded smart, the author says that he really does not know what he is talking about and is dumb (Hawthorne 211). This could perhaps show that technology is making us not as intelligent as we could be and is altering human nature. Another example that it can alter human perception is whenever Holgrave took a real picture of the judge instead of a portrait. He looked different and not as happy as he normally would have in a painting or in real life (Hawthorne 64). This alters the way we look at people and how we perceive the world around us. Through Holgrave’s photography the world looked different to people and ultimately alters human nature.

Human nature can also be threatened by technology. Bill Joy quotes a man named Freeman Dyson saying that machines are irresistible and that there is a glitter to nuclear weapons (Joy 13). If man thinks that technology is irresistible who’s to say that they could ultimately threaten people because of their questions. Their human nature could also threaten life. The human nature to know why things are the way they are through technology. I think that is a consequence of our truth seeking (Joy 15). I think life is threatened in all of the passages I have talked about. In Hawthorne technology threatens the Pyncheons because Clifford is scared of the future and what it might hold. Although they are threatened I think the future is better for Clifford. In “Blade Runner” the whole book is threatened by technology. Rick has to kill robots so that human nature can be protected. In Lyotard he is trying to find a solution for us because we are threatened by technology to live after technology destroys us.

Ultimately I think that technology alters and threatens us while surpassing us at the same time. Human nature is sensation and perception of the world around us. Technology, on the other hand, is storing and organizing this information in our systems. Technology could surpass us in time just like it did in several examples. In “Blade Runner” and in Lyotard we find that this can be true by the future. Technology also can alter human nature. It alters our learning process and our personality. Technology can also threaten us by learning more and more about us and finally threatening our human nature. So like the quote at the beginning of my essay, one day technology can overcome human nature.

Work Cited

Dick, Philip K. Blade Runner : Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Westminster: Del Rey, 1990.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The House of the Seven Gables. Minneapolis: Dover Publications, Incorporated, 2003.

Joy, Bill. "Why the Future doesn't need us." Aug. 2004. 15 Oct. 2008 .

Kemerling, Garth. "John Locke." Philosophy Pages. Aug. 2006. Britannica. 15 Oct. 2008 .

Lyotard, Jean F. "Can Thought go on without a Body?" The Inhuman : Reflections on Time. By Jean-Francois Lyotard. Trans. Geoffrey Bennington. New York: Stanford UP, 1992.

"What is Technology?" 2008. EXxtenison. 15 Oct. 2008 .

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

I liked your opening quote, and your introduction is reasonably focused and interesting. I'd like to know, though, what you want us to *do* about what's happening to us.

The idea of the blank slate as human nature is highly controversial, of course. It's also highly specific - it actually gives you something interesting to talk about.

Your use of Lyotard is clever, but I would have liked a little more - it seems that you don't think that we are precisely a blank slate - if we have particularly ways we process information, even before we know anything, are we really "blank"? By the way - this takes you in the direction of Immanuel Kant's conception of human nature.

Some of your material is rather Lyotardian - it's interesting, but I would have liked to see you work through some of the details a little more than you do (maybe with examples?). Take this, for instance: "Our knowledge wants to know more about our past and future. I think that knowledge in turn creates human nature. I also think that we use technology to gain knowledge. If we had a graph of human nature and technology, I think that it would be at an exponential rate until one day the technology passes our human nature. Closer and closer one day that technology could surpass human nature."
I would have liked to see you make these ideas more precise/concrete.

There is some good material in your discussion of DADES and Joy, but something bothers me here. You keep repeating the idea that technology threatens human nature. But you defined human nature as "the blank slate" -- that is, our nature is the nature of how we learn and develop from nothing. You have pointed out ways in which technology changes us (both in the real world and in the books), but there's nothing about how it changes/threatens human nature *as you define it*.

You have a number of interesting ideas here, many of them rooted in Lyotard, but you have some difficulty keeping focus -- by the end you're talking about how technology threatens *us* more than *our nature*, at least as you've defined it.