Some more ramblings inspired by How We Became Posthuman (other post is here).
The interface that was to transform us turned out not to be the human/machine coupling, but instead the human/biology coupling, in which the transformation of biological life inside and outside of us is the key.
The Technicolor wonder of the man-as-machine has faded for the integration of man into the world in its entirety. Machines turned out to not be a specific category in the world, just as man was not. Hayles details in her book the late 20th century obsession and anxiety with androids and AI that complicate the boundaries of subjectivity and the human subject. But today, this boundary making just does not seem to be of the same significance, as more and more we come to realize that subjectivity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. From a materialist perspective, here represented by Jane Bennett in her book Vibrant Matter:
“The philosophical project of naming where subjectivity begins and ends is too often bound up with fantasies of a human uniqueness in the eyes of God, of escape from materiality, or of mastery of nature; and even where it is not, it remains an aporetic or quixotic endeavor.”
“The story will highlight the extent to which human being and thinghood overlap, the extent to which the us and the it slip-slide into each other. One moral of the story is that we are also non-humans and that things, too, are vital players in the world.”
This is why the machine/man-boundary troubles implied by How We Became Posthuman (and other boundary problems which are prevalent in a lot of STS) is not really going to cut it these days. As Timothy Morton notes in a particularly grumpy blog post on a recent collection of ecophilosophy (Integral Ecology):
“We just don’t have time for another remix of nature and culture […] It’s not a matter of picking and mixing from the best of “Nature” ideas and “Culture” ideas. Let me just level with you for a moment. Here is my very, very condensed version of Ecology without Nature [Mortons own book] for those of you who don’t have the time: The concepts Nature and culture are fucked. Fuck them. It’s over.”
Could not agree more.