Humans = Machines

Humans = Machines March 20, 2024

We Christians used to complain about “humanism,” a.k.a., “secular humanism,” a religion centered on how wonderful human beings are. Though some atheists still claim it, that term isn’t really used very much anymore.  Hardly any secularists think human beings are all that great, what with all of our wars and environmental degradation, nor are we better than animals, which are often considered to be morally superior.

Today the talk is about “post-humanism,” or the state of being “post-human.”  This is due to the excitement over our new technology and the prospect that human beings can be improved by merging with machines.

The Dissolution of the Human Being.   He argues that human beings now think of themselves as machines.  Which makes it easy to think of machines as human beings.  If humans = machines, then machines = humans.

This mindset lies behind the hype and the fears of Artificial Intelligence (the prospect of AI becoming so intelligent that it acquires consciousness, the fantasies about sentient robots, and belief in the Singularity, in which the internet evolves into an all-knowing and all-controlling god).  This also gives us the projects of synthesizing humans and machines by implanting computer chips into our brains or wearing glasses that will overlay everything we see with clickable computer icons.

For some contemporary thinkers, things are crystal clear: we are living in a post-human world. This means something very precise. Humans, living beings in general, can be understood and explained according to scientifically established laws and rules of existence. The much-heralded Human Genome Project (HGP) is nothing more than the “engineering” plan (or map) of the gigantic digital-electro-chemical machinery that is the human being. We are sophisticated artifacts, nothing more. . . .

We are living in a world where it is widely accepted that human beings can be fixed, just like cars, planes, or computers. But not only do we change our bodies’ limbs and organs as damaged parts of an electronic or mechanical device; we can also choose what we ourselves want to be. The current state of affairs seems to be as Andres Vaccari observes: nature is going to be disintegrated. Nothing stable exists. . . .

But how could something like this be possible? It is possible because life itself is gone. Whether in the form of digital AI or a physical humanoid robot like Elon Musk’s Optimus, the “machine” is the only triumphant reality.

[Keep reading. . .]

Kmita discusses the portrayal of automatons–robots, androids, other human-like machines–in our literature and films.  He shows that in the contemporary imagination, human beings themselves are reduced to automatons.

As we’ve blogged about, the brain is NOT a computer and a computer CANNOT be a brain.  If people think of themselves as just a machine that can be repaired, souped up, or customized at will, no wonder they believe they can change their sex just by ingesting some chemicals and having a little surgery.  Or that machines we don’t want can simply be discarded, like we trash any consumer device that doesn’t meet our needs, making abortion no big deal.

If we are all just meat robots, though, there is no heart, no conscience, no soul, no image of God.  Everything that makes us human is left out of consideration.  But that makes us not post-human but inhuman.


Photo:  Cyborg holding green apple and looking at camera isolated on grey, future technology concept – , attributed free license

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