Articles  |    |  October 26, 2016

Homo Technologicus: Threat or Opportunity?

Article by Kevin Warwick.
Published in Philosophies 2016.

Abstract:

Homo sapiens is entering a vital era in which the human-technology link is an inexorable trend. In this paper a look is taken as to how and why this is coming about and what exactly it means for both the posthuman species Homo technologicus and its originator Homo sapiens. Clearly moral and ethical issues are at stake. Different practical experimentation results that relate to the theme are described and the argument is raised as to why and how this can be regarded as a new species. A picture is taken of the status of cyborgs as it stands today but also how this will change in the near future, as the effects of increased technological power have a more dramatic influence. An important ultimate consideration is whether Homo technologicus will act in the best interests of Homo sapiens or not. This paper concludes that the answer is clear.

Excerpt:

The subject area of cyborgs and posthumanism has been well developed in the social sciences and humanities for many years now. This has been influenced strongly by the general trend of humans to embrace technology in their everyday lives and depend on it for their existence. At the center of the discussion is ‘Homo technologicus, a symbiotic creature in which biology and technology intimately interact’, with the overall effect that the end result is ‘not simply “Homo sapiens plus technology”, but the original Homo sapiens morphed by the addition of technology into ‘a new evolutionary unit, undergoing a new kind of evolution in a new environment’ .

But we must consider what, in practice, we mean by Homo technologicus. The critical element here is the concept of boundary. As has been pointed out by many researchers, the human brain is affected by the technology around us. It develops over time to interact more efficiently with that technology. However it is perhaps somewhat flippant to suggest that we are therefore all cyborgs, even though there may well be a gradual change in our neural make up over a period as a result of the environment around us. Some have gone further and suggested that a blind man with his cane is a cyborg, on the basis that the cane feeds important information to the man about his local environment. Meanwhile a pair of glasses or a hearing aid for a deaf person could be regarded in the same way. In recent years many researchers in the field of wearable computers have become self-professed cyborgs whilst, in some instances, having much less interaction with the object worn than the blind man with his cane . . .