As we come to the end of the semester, it’s natural to look back, and draw conclusions about the course as a whole. The dominant notion rattling around my head recently has been the idea that we’ve always been posthuman, or, since this is clearly a paradox, that posthumanism as a term is flawed.
Of course, modern posthumanist theories have immediate relevance to our lives and those of our children, as new technologies may radically change our identities for better or worse. The discussion surrounding this issue is also evidently worth having, as it allows us to understand ourselves better, or at least to accept that the human is near-impossible to define. This conclusion then enables us to think critically about what motivations lie behind any definition given of humanity, and whether this act precludes an attempt to exclude someone from humankind. However, the main issue surrounding posthumanism at the moment is the idea that we may at some point become corporeally integrated with technological creations. This scares many people, mostly because they fear that the poor will be left behind in terms of ability, and that the rich may become inhuman machines. This ignores the fact that as a species, we have always interacted with technology in a way which is utterly foreign to other natural creatures. Our ability and desire to create new ways to improve our lives, whether individually or collectively, may actually be a defining feature of humanity. From the moment our ancestors first made a fire to keep warm, constructed a hut to stay dry, or used a spear to kill for meat, we were irrecoverably altered. Since this impulse has always been a part of our species, this means that we have never been truly natural, in the animal sense of the word. We were and still remain a step above the rest of the animal kingdom in terms of intelligence, emotion and this impulse to better our lives in fundamental ways.
Additionally, this popular fear over a possible transhumanist future where the rich and poor have widely different opportunities is nonsensical, because it already exists. The advanced technology we have is consumed by the upper and middle classes, while the lower classes struggle to try to improve their situation, despite an uneven playing field.