The slow move from human to machine shows up in such a variety of ways in our modern lives. It is interesting how it has snuck up on us. The beginnings of this movement seemed innocent enough. I doubt if anyone actually recognized them as being sinister or even speculated something was happening that at some point would be considered a bad move. Maybe it is just human nature to move away from being a human, but I tend to doubt that. Something is probably behind it.
Where is everybody???
So who does the transhumanism? Transhumanists, right? Who are the transhumanists, are they people like us? At first glance, It appears that they are human but looking at what they do and not what they say they come across as beings in a human outfit but beyond that outfit there is not much humanity left or there was not much humanity in the first place.
Oh my gosh how this hit home!!! I wrote a comment yesterday on Facebook about how the loss of cursive actually makes people less creative. The physical act of the flow of the hand while writing cursive is connected to both the right and left brain in both logical and ARTISTIC ways. And music! I cannot listen to Mozart without a REAL orchestra with HUMANS playing the instruments! What will happen to humanity if people quit learning to play instruments?!! How tragic. And the telephone calls are not only insulting, but make you feel completely unimportant. Now I am required to sign into my doctor appointment on my phone before I even go there. I can't see well enough to do this and the receptionists are annoyed that they have to actually help me in the traditional ways. Yes, not only is it depressing, but it is inhuman and makes us feel helplessly alone. I do understand that there are just too many people and not enough helpers so this will probably just keep on, but I think younger people just go along with all this digital life with blind acceptance. I also recently have been shocked by ads in The Atlantic advertising gentle biotech enhancements to the human body to increase life experience. Good Grief.
And lastly, a comment on an inability to produce cursive writing. Not having learned how to write cursively means you cannot take notes in a real-time situation, producing an inordinate dependence upon digital representation of reality for future reference. It has to either be recorded, which precludes the distillation of verbiage into cogent points worth noting (which is, of course, the whole point of taking notes, as this is where learning occurs!), or reduced to a set of bare bones PowerPoint slides, which too miss any nuance and wipe from memory most details that render an argument clear and relevant to human cognition. I also wonder, but haven't the neurophysiological knowledge to address, whether cursive writing engages different parts of the brain that printing does not stimulate, thereby reducing a particular kind of intelligence, perhaps one associated with analog awareness and its sequelae- context, meaning, morality and empathy.
On another note entirely, children who cannot read an analog clock lose context of their activities within a spectrum of time. That is, they cannot relate what is actually happening to what comes before or after, and, as Weber pointed out over a hundred years ago, understanding of social behavior only arises when activities are seen in a social context. That means if you can't read an analog clock, chancez are you don't understand your actions except as isolated from a web of meanin. This precludes any kind of moral yardstick, as morality rests entirely in contextual understanding of specific moments in time. Ergo, indeed, digital-think produces a Foucauldian existence without any touchstone of morality, reality, or meaning. Without these aspects, how can a life have meaning? (And now I am sure there will be a chorus of existential objectors, claiming that no such meaning is ever possible, which, of course, it isn't in such an a posteriori universe.)
What seems to me to be commonly missed is this idea that digital is innocuous. It's not so much a case of not recognizing human variations, which are infinite, within any given paradigmatic spectrum of behavior, but of forcing people into behavioral boxes. If certain behaviors are not recognized for long enough, they cease to exist because they cease to be conceptually constructed as a phenomenon apart from the background field. For example, in medicine if a list of checkboxes does not describe a patient's' symptoms, these symptoms cease to exist, both in the minds of the clinician and the patient, and certainly historically, as they never make it into the documentation. In the obstetric world, where I spent several decades, women's prenatal and intrapartum progress were forced into fitting into certain time limits, the limits of which were determined by statistical manipulation that produced an artifactual woman. Consequently, if an individual woman and her labor persisted outside these artifactual parameters (too slow OR too fast), then she was assaulted with risk- and harm-inducing interventions so as to make her behavior fit within the supposed normal guidelines. The ancients recognized what this was, but we don't: it is a Procrustean bed, where if you're too tall they cut off your feet, and if you're too short they stretch you on the rack. Right now we are being cut off and mangled and stretched in order to fit a particularly manageable bureaucratic grid of artifactual beings, of which there is probably not one single example. all bureaucratic grids, that attempt to characterize individuals as a set of yes or no ticks in a list of supposedly definitive check boxes, end up wiping out recognition of entire sectors of individuals whose profiles do not fit the states definition. This has long been a recognized phenomenon in sociological and political theory.
You hit me in one of my favorite subjects, Todd. At some point in my life (several years ago) I used to think that reality (including humanity) was digital. My idea came from studying some eastern philosophies and encountering the concept of Yin-Yang (apparently digital). Also the concept of light consisting of discrete "photons" reinforced the idea. But, I have revised my thinking, and I am convinced that reality (and humanity) is analog. The digital construct is just a convenient idea that helps us understand and classify certain phenomena or observations in convenient "boxes". But, as you illustrated, "there are an infinite number of points between any two other points". The world is analog... we construct digital machines, which are useful tools; but machines cannot be human.
Let's not get started talking about analog and digital in music...
Oliver Reiser's 'The World Sensorium' provides early insights into what researcher Alison McDowell today describes as the 'ant-computer'.
Tolkien mentions 'One Ring to rule them all..', the question now for all of us is to identify the lynch-pin of this corrupt system and focus our energy.
I wanted to connect with my 30 something niece and she suggested zoom. I refused and told her that I don't do digital. She changed her mind within 24 hours and we met together for a lovely visit and lunch. My advice is to reject the offerings of the digital universe as much as possible and demand I.R.L. - In Real Life.
What I find most interesting is people's obliviousness to phasing themselves out of a job, in real-time. With no other options at 6am for coffee on the road, I reluctantly popped into a McDonalds. The staff were encouraging everyone to use the automated touch screen towers to order. It was not busy. I said I wanted to deal with a human, and the girl walked out from behind the cashier and said she'd help me to use the touchscreen. She refused to serve me at the cashier. I walked out.