Can a human be human without technology?
Since the dawn of man, technology has been a defining factor of what a human being is. In the famous scene from Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ a monkey separates itself from other animals by re-defining a bone as the tool of a hammer, and later throws the bone in the air suddenly match cut as a spaceship: The history of man in one second. But the history is not over and technology continually shapes what it means to be human.
Artificial intelligence is on its way and it is here to stay. But what brings it to the human condition? Since technology is the advancement of a human’s possibility to reach an object, is artificial intelligence then an advancement of the capacities of being human? If the bone was a replacement of the fist, is A.I. the replacement of a human? Not necessarily, but it will affect and question what it means to be human.
Since technology is constantly being enhanced, new and former untouched areas will be affected by technology. It is no longer manual labour or transport that is being optimized. Knowledge work: visual, cognitive, and oral areas, areas that was before restricted to what was defined human, are now also being enhanced by technology. What happens is that technology is constantly re-defining the boundary of being human. Not in the sense that the human biology is getting enhanced as well, but in the sense that without technology humans core nature would render insufficient and hence, not live up to the criteria of being human in the future of tomorrow.
Already now, we see how technology literally merges with the human body, as well as technology helps us reaching our ‘nature’. In a stressed and hectic day, people are constantly on. To go offline people do not just leave their phone behind, they set it as being offline. Apps are created to keep us away from other apps and to focus we listen to music-files of streaming water and falling rain. All this technology is trying to get us feel more in touch with our human side. But maybe the other thing is more true in the future. Maybe we have become alienated from our nature because of technology, and as a result, the use of technology is the only way we can get in touch with our human side again?
The future is yet to come, but one thing is for sure: Artificial intelligence will affect the conception of the human nature. In ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ every time the monolith appears, man transcend into a improved step of humanity. From ape to man, from man to space man, from space man to the ambiguous figure of the space child ... Will our final journey through the use of technology be the evolution of artificial intelligence and hence, the a new step of what it means to be human?