Are you reading this blog post on a smartphone? Does your smartphone ever leave your side? Do you freak out if you ever misplace or lose your smartphone? Do you ever feel less than whole when your smartphone is not within easy reach?
You’ve just confirmed that you are a cyborg.
We are all cyborgs – the next time you are in public, whether you are on public transit, in a coffee shop, or just walking – take a look around and confirm that you are the only one not looking at your smartphone.
Even though we aren’t cyborgs in the traditional sense, we have become virtual cyborgs, relegating much of our mental data storage to the unlimited space on our devices, as opposed to the limited space in our puny human brains.
Some people have a problem with this.
They feel that we should store all of the knowledge within our minds at all times, that we should be able to live independently from our electronic parts, but I think that ship has sailed – we are already so wedded to our devices, that even experiments to extricate ourselves from our devices have failed miserably.
There have been studies done where Millennials and Gen Z have been asked to give up their devices for 24 hours, and many cannot even make it that far, the ones that did lay in their beds in a catatonic stupor, unable to process life, without their device in their hands.
So I say, ok let’s give up.
The device will always be a part of us; we can’t give it up any more than we can an arm or a leg. What does this mean? If we indeed decide that we are cyborgs (homo mechanica), then we need to go all the way and treat humans as human/mechanical hybrids in all things.
This means allowing humans to use smartphones to look things up during a job interview, or an exam. Will we need to force humans to learn things through 4+ year degrees, when they can learn tasks just in time through YouTube videos just before completing the tasks? Will we not allow prospective employees to look things up in the middle of job interviews – they would be able to do so in real life in the job itself (the whole hiring process needs to be disrupted, but that’s a topic for another post).
Think of any situation where someone should be able to think for themselves. If we assume that humans are already part machine and that is the new definition of humanity, then we need to change a lot of our educational system, our conception of knowledge and work, our conception of memory, and our conception of what it means to be human.
From my perspective, we’ve already passed the threshold, having a device as your backup brain, storing the worlds (and your own personal) information at your fingertips, answering almost every question, is already part of the core human experience. Not having access to a device and the information on that device permanently disables you.
Somehow, you are less than human without one.