Response to 4.4. Concerning technology and decentering the human (Jon Sakata)

Threading the earlier posts concerning 4E, particularly 'extension,' and Taney's prompt concerning technology and decentering of the human, I'm recalling McLuhan's critical nugget/warning about how each new form of technology (whether a tool or other technological enhancement) brings with it some level, or kind, of compensatory "auto-amputation" (or self-amputation) -- a loss of capacity, ability, faculty, functionality, etc. As my index finger pokes and beaks and swipes the touchscreen to write this post, think of the crude impoverishment of tactility that I'm exercising...[quick, back to the piano!]

With humor and alarm, J. G. Ballard's 'personal computers' entry in his Project for a Glossary of the Twentieth Century also comes to mind: "Perhaps unwisely, the brain is subcontracting many of its core functions, creating a series of branch economies that may one day amalgamate and mount a management buy-out."

In the context of what we've been exploring in this Symposium, McLuhan's "auto-amputation" and Ballard's "subcontracting of functions" raise for me a dark curiosity: if the human species is incessantly committing such amputations and subcontracting (unknowingly, of course) at who knows what rate, then I'm wondering out loud if "decentering the human" may be coming down the pipeline in a way that is less willed action and transformative shift; and more on the lines of blind self-extinguishing and sensorial sewering? Clearly, a very different form of post-humanism.

I'm just beginning to think about this as I write and have no (clear) sense about this; but hopefully others here have been and can share their perspectives on this as I end this improv of a post...

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