As technology becomes more ubiquitous in our day-to-day, more and more people are concerned with how to switch off and re-engage with the real world. We can see examples of this in the growing popularity of the ‘digital detox’, where participants aim to go device-free. More often, we have university lecturers instituting a no-device policy in classrooms, to encourage students to engage with the classroom environment. Workplaces encourage employees to disconnect for periods of time to encourage creativity and inter-personal interaction.
In my personal life, I’ve found myself confronted with these issues more frequently. Do my phone and Facebook genuinely make me happy? Or does my joy and wellbeing come from taking it slow, and just enjoying life?
For my DIGC335 research project, I will aim to investigate these issues by comparing examples at each extreme of these arguments.
Transhumanism is a movement that is interested in using technology to enhance humans and further overcome the limitations and capacities of the human condition. It seeks to use technology to extend life span, to improve quality of life, and to change the parameters of our experience.
In practice, this looks like RFID chips implanted under the skin that can act as a key. It looks like prosthetic and cybernetic artificial limbs that can be controlled by thought. It’s gene therapy, replacing a ‘malfunctioning’ gene that causes a disease with a new, working one.The Transhuman agenda is to use technologies such as these to ‘redesign’ the experience of being human.
On the other side of the spectrum are various anti-technology groups, such as the Neo-Luddite movement. At the heart of these movements is the concern that technology is being used to control, not enhance, our lives and experiences as social beings. Looking at the long lines of people waiting to shell out hundreds of dollars on the latest iPhone (despite its lack of improvement or innovation in the overall smartphone field) it’s easy to believe that technology is contributing to the rat race, rather than helping us overcome it.
My research this semester will be primarily concerned with a critical analytic comparison of the Transhumanist movement and the Neo-Luddite movement as competing theologies of how to live a happy and fulfilled human life.