Class summary for day 3

Riki's picture

On Day 3, "Natural Born Cyborgs,"
We first watched the Selarc video, which mentioned the idea of the body as a sculptural medium and an evolutionary architecture. Many people in the class seemed disturbed and/or intrigued by the art. Thinning the boundary between self and other makes us feel existentially uncomfortable.

We reflected on our initial postings and the Clark reading:

  • technology is more simplistic than we might first assume -- for example, we usually think of computers, but simple tools like pens are also technology
  • where is agency located? You can't completely blame technology for your actions... shared agency?
  • a relationship with technology is driven by desire/intention; no one is being forced to use a cell phone
  • we are wired to create interpersonal relationships with our environment
  • there is a prejudice about technology separating people
  • is the use of technology really a biological desire or just social programming? This brings about the nature-nurture debate, which is just another boundary that needs to be blurred

Clark's argument:

  • he tries to redefine the cartoon image of a cyborg
  • he encourages us to accept and embrace ourselves as natural-born cyborgs

Thinking points and metaphors:

  • Clark explains that as a species, we have been using technology for a long time
  • full-integration with technology in the future
  • we already have extended cognition into technology -- for example, feeling disabled when your computer breaks
  • the body is a "fortress" designed to be breached

Adaptation and evolutionary psychology:

  • Clark tries to argue against evopsych -- it's not relevant or helpful to talk about our behavior in relation to hunter/gatherers
  • adaptation as an active feedback loop? Perhaps our capacity to adapt increases as more technology is present
  • as we create new technology, we are creating ourselves
    • ethical choices about what to create?

Back to class thoughts on Clark...

  • Clark doesn't seem to discuss the downsides of embracing our cyborg nature
  • if we don't have to remember things now (i.e. phone numbers), will that impair our ability to remember details later in life?
  • connectivity brings burdens -- example: parents thinking you're dead if you don't answer your phone for a few hours
  • is the act of rejecting technology unnatural?
  • does "natural" refer to the biological world or the social world?
  • by naming our technology, we make it a part of us
    • does this mean it's natural for us to want to connect to everything?
  • union of body + technology = scaffolding

Haraway vs. Clark:

  • Haraway wrote her article to model her thesis -- she has a political agenda; she wants to challenge and change the way we think
  • Clark doesn't seem to be challenging us, just trying to prove his point
  • Haraway's writing is more timeless and allows for multiple interpretations
  • Clark's writing could easily be outdated
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