Check Marks & Being

I submitted my chapter/essay over the weekend (and had the obligatory editing exchange) and at this time, I believe it is safely tucked away, earning another check mark on my list of things to do. The last thing on my list is the groundwork for our AoIR paper on community building through course websites (with Shanly Dixon). Completely out of my scope of research but not experience, it will be interesting mining for information without my usual feelers on.

It is sunny, with a warm breeze. Nice enough to sit outside and read a book. After contemplating my bookshelf to pick a book off of the “to read” shelf, I picked The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil. Interestingly, another science oriented book (the 2nd in a row; strange for my reading habits..), it was written in 1999, so it is interesting to read statements that address the first 2 decades of this century; whether they have proven false, developed in the direction the author anticipated etc etc.

I chose this book because of my resistance against believing in the cyborg ideal. Although I believe that humans have become inextricably linked with technology in many ways (from pace makers to blackberrys) and in this way, cyborg may be an appropriate term to use as individual become increasingly digital/technical etc. I am still resistant to the idea that machines will surpass humans as intelligent beings. This is not to say that a machine will not (and has not) surpassed the computing capacity of the human brain, but rather, I am resistant towards the idea that a machine will write a better fictional novel, create its own art movement (outside of humans using the machines to create such artefacts).

As the early pages of the book suggests, the answer to this question really lies in the bigger (philosophical) question of the meaning of being. What it means to be human… a question that we have been struggling with for what seems like an eternity. Looking forward to seeing how Kurzweil works it into his overall argument.


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