The intersection of humanity and technology

Woman and machine

This, from a great piece by @tcarmody on the film Alien, and what it teaches us about ourselves and technology:

That’s what technology is. It’s the world of things, some impossibly stupid, some smarter than we are, we have assembled around ourselves to cover over our fundamental weaknesses as a species. The strength we have, the advantage this gives us, is our ability to stand apart from the things we’ve made: to use them and set them aside; to make them prosthetic extensions of ourselves and to let them go.

Our ability to put technology to one side when we want to, and return to being fully human is what I was getting at in this post about larger screen phones and the Apple Watch. Of course, we are never entirely separated – our brains are plastic and we are forever forging new neural pathways and patterns that take advantage of the tools we have developed. We may even be supplementing our skills to the point where we become more and more dependent on technology. When the computer is an implant under the skin, or embedded in a tooth, (rather than in a pocket or strapped to your wrist, it then becomes a mental exercise to “separate” ourselves from the technology.

Perhaps the greatest risk to the human species is whether our brains evolve to the point where the idea of “putting the technology down” becomes unthinkable – and in doing so, perhaps we increase our fragility.