What it means to be human

Leya De Nil

Technology is a field that is always changing and advancing. Every time a new type of gadget is created, it’s extremely interesting to see what it can do and how it is able to help us in our everyday lives. Think about glasses. Today we do not think of glasses as a strange kind of technology because we have become so accustomed to their presence that we barely even notice them. To the people constantly using a particular form of technology, it quickly stops being an alien part of them and becomes an extension of their individuals. I remember after picking out my first pair of glasses, I was sitting in the car on my way home and the presence of the frames on my nose felt strange and somewhat uncomfortable. This was a form of technology that was helping me, but one that I didn’t consider as part of my being. In the present day, I barely notice the presence of my glasses on my nose or behind my ears; they have become a part of my identity and an extension of myself.

It is undeniable that technology has a constantly increasing presence in our everyday lives. There is so much technology that we take for granted, and no longer truly consider “technology”. It surrounds us causing us to become so accustomed to it, that we no longer consider it as unnatural. As humans we adapt to these changes and advancements in technology and to us, the notion of them as gadgets diminishes quickly and they merely become a part of us. I have grown up in a generation that is constantly aware of the changing technology. There is so much rapid technology enhancement and improvement that the rate at which we are becoming accustomed to these changes is constantly accelerating. Technology surrounds us and it has come to play an extremely prominent role in my life and I am not ignorant of the fact that it has altered the way in which I live my everyday life and the lens through which I see the world.

During our Tuesday night class, conducted by Professor Samantha Brennan, we watched the documentary FIXED – the Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement, which spoke about the technological advancements, focusing on its effect on individuals with disabilities. The documentary showed both people born with disabilities and individuals who acquired disabilities later in life, using technology to help with movement. For us, the technology being shown, such as the use of mechanical legs, seems much more advanced than owning a pair of glasses, but in the future, who is to say that we will not consider these creations the glasses of today? Technology that is initially being developed to assist those with disabilities will come to pave the way for technology used by everyone.

To a certain extent, the usage and increasing presence of technology in our lives makes me uncomfortable. How drastically is this constant increase in usage and decrease in awareness of technology going to affect our lives and what it means to be human? I cannot help but wonder if the use of technology is taking away from our humanity or if it is merely increasing the extent to which we are able to be human. I continue to become increasingly aware of how much I rely on technology and I remain uncertain of its benefits. What scares me the most is that if technology allows us to become a form of “superhuman”, being merely our natural selves is no longer going to be enough. I do not deny that technology is fascinating and provides positive advancements for society, however it is when this technology is commonly used that I start to weigh its benefits and its consequences. I suppose that this is what people living one hundred, or even fifty years ago wondered as well, and we still consider ourselves just as human as them. I’m curious to see where these constant technological advancements lead us and to see if they have affected what it means to be human in fifty years. Only time will tell.

This is a great link to read more: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/technology-may-influencing-human-evolution/

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