Cybernetics

“The community extends only so far as there extends an effectual transmission of information” (Wiener 158).  Information is at the base of our entire existence and hinging on information is the most essential of human functions – communication.  Our societies thrive on the existence of communication and thus, control can only be obtained through possession of information or knowledge.  Simply possessing information yields a certain amount of control to the individual in that one can chose to either communicate this information or withhold it from others.

In his description of the importance of information and communication, Wiener develops a strong relationship between humans and information, which Hayles criticizes in her analysis of Wiener’s work.  He develops this relationship to the point where humans seem to become no more than systems of information and we lose all sense of distinction between man and machine.  Everything begins to fall somewhere in between these two extremes in the realm of the cyborg.

“The cybernetic machine was to be designed so that it did not threaten the autonomous, self-regulating subject of liberal humanism.  On the contrary, it was to extend that self into the realm of the machine” (Hayles 86).  Hayles’s criticism lies not so much in the deterioration of the self and the human being, but rather, the individualization and humanization of the machine.  But she neglects to dispute the fact that human beings are made up of anything more than a system of information.  Thus, not providing sufficient evidence as to why machines cannot enter the realm of humanity.

Although I find Hayles’s argument to be unsatisfactory, I do not disagree that some type of line should be drawn between man and machine.  But where that line exists seems to be growing increasingly hazy.  My first instinct is to turn toward emotion.  Certainly that is something unique to human beings.  However, emotion really is nothing more than chemicals sending messages to your brain.  A transportation of information that can easily be manufactured and is all the time in the form of mood-altering medications.

Our only hope for separation then, is in creation.  Machines cannot create humans or machines.  Only humans can create other humans and machines.  Or can they?  If a man with a cane becomes a cyborg as Hayles suggests, then what can really be considered human anymore?  None of our world today exists without machines.  So perhaps the line has been erased.  Perhaps we have moved beyond that barrier.  Or perhaps it never really existed to begin with.

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