5.5.09

Transhuman, Cylon, Progress

This post on the term transhuman sparked further thoughts about what constitutes human progress. Whether technophobe or technophile, our collective habits reveal our vote for technology as a means of progress. Remembering when our cell phones were the size of suitcases, we marvel at the elegant digital dance of our iPhones and BlackBerries. We have learned to vote for the party in power - science in this case - and welcome the seduction of Moore's Law and all it implies.

Our ability to measure the progress of our social fabric is less clear and thus it is more difficult to establish real progress. Some question the larger framing that definitive progress requires. Others point out that we have made great gains and it's hard to disagree when cases of enlightened governance are compared with previous oppressions. But a larger measure social fabric strength is not easy to establish.

Computers didn't exist a couple-hundred years ago so the fact that we have them is proof of technological gains. The human ills that beset us today have a much more persistent history. In the case of Battlestar Galactica, the Cylons demonstrate one vision of transhuman development that isn't exactly benign. Our own abilities to enact injustices of all kinds reveal that our own lesser augmentations have, in a similar way, failed to change the some of deeply engrained habits.

Serres has a lot to say about technology and human social inequalities. Are we making progress?

2 comments:

mutablematter said...

I can't remember whether I've sent you this one:
http://www.euractiv.com/en/science/interview-democracy-science-needed/article-169372

Angela :)

Ingenuity Arts said...

I remember reading this but I don't think I posted anything about it. The democracy of science is a good topic to write a short piece on. Thanks for the reminder.

What do you think about a more democratic approach to scientific exploration? Rather than scientists or funding sources deciding what to study, the public does that?

If I am uber rich and want to pay for research on how to levitate, should I be able to command the leading minds to pursue that particular line of inquiry? Is government funding of scientific research democratic enough?