It should be considered that the human condition, culturally and developmentally, can be measured by advances in computer technology. Inequalities are created, exaggerated and/or corrected rapidly, as the symbolic and objective worlds are manipulated by advanced machines. The power relationships between nations and populations are maintained or altered through the use of computers and the information they provide. These fast changes are propelled by the power of symbols, which play crucial roles in the formation of ideas, identity and the manipulation of the material world.
Computers are our great symbol machines. They are driving the development of cultural symbols by creating them, providing access to them, and by being icons themselves. Programmed with symbols and reporting results with them, they provide us with an opportunity to observe how symbols are used to change and modify our behaviors and our physical structure. Building devices as a means of self-modification is part of being human, and the process has been empowered greatly. We’re part of an accelerating evolutionary process mediated by machines that are extensions of our thinking processes, just as a knife extends the teeth and fire extends the power of digestion.
These tools and developments offer insight into the variations of human experience and the plasticity of biological and cultural structures, propelling us to create more powerful reflections of ourselves. Artificial Intelligence is patterned and structured from our explorations of mind, brain, computer science and philosophy. Human-computer interaction results in cognitive and behavioral changes that spread quickly through an interconnected population, creating a living feedback loop that gives rise to an expanded, human/machine organism. Both group and individual movements are influenced by algorithms and those movements can be translated into algorithms themselves. There is an elegance to this relationship that can be expressed in words, engineering and mathematics. The algorithmic nature of shapes and symbols is a study within ethnomathematics. Individual movement can be evaluated in ergonomic terms or the activity level and productivity of workers who use computers to accomplish daily work tasks. Human abilities are enhanced through computers, the psychological and physiological aspects of this phenomenon are quickly summing to equal radical structural changes within our species.
These changes are happening against resistance, of course. Resistance to change within and between societal structures, resistance from those who defend established cultural norms, voicing their opinions on the Internet. All opinions and world views thus expressed are absorbed into a collective of stored knowledge to be analyzed and used in the construction of various models. Ideas and models of reality, of the future, past and present, are being shared and modified through communications that are being continually updated and archived. The multidimensional growth of knowledge and opinions based on knowledge is astoundingly fast and powerful in its effects upon thought, policy and action.
So what are the questions to be asked, what is the role and work of the AnthroCyberist?
Studying the trajectory and value of cultural, societal and technological developments and their impact on humankind. Providing oversight to the philosophies and technologies propelling our progression as a species into uncharted territories of thought, values, relations and being. Participating in the human/computer integration process with a mind toward achieving life affirming goals.
Vincent C. Paladino has a B.A. in Anthropology and is a CEA audio engineer.