More than human

Humans it seems are becoming more mechanized.

Technology is allowing us to progress farther than we ever have before, but I worry that our advancements have outstripped our humanity.

The camera has long been an extension of the human eye and prosthetics are used as extensions of the body, but when they perform better than the natural body, are we still human?

Machines have their benefits from hearing implants, to headphones, to contact lenses. But what the newest waves of technology have done is externalize a number of human tasks.

In the last several decades, machines have begun to offer mental support.

How much of your “memory” is stored externally on a cell phone,

hard drive or other gadgets? Countless moments, trivial and magnificent, are stored outside your brain.

This is both fascinating and disturbing. The definition of a machine doesn’t cover mental power, but it should.

The human brain is remarkable but circuit boards and the Internet have facilitated a phenomenal expansion beyond the tangible grey matter within our skulls. But all of this technology makes the concept of feeling difficult.

The concept of memory retention, especially within classrooms, is being questioned. Why learn to solve cubic roots when your calculator can do that for you? Why bother taking notes when your camera can capture an entire chalkboard?

Steven Mann, a professor at the University of Toronto, was described as “the world’s first cyborg” as one of the pioneers of wearable computing, webcams in particular. The webcams he works with serve as an extension of the human eye, allowing us to see wavelengths we couldn’t before, extending the spectrum that the “human” eye can see. Technology allows us to do more, but its problem has always been accessibility. With affordable technology such as the $35 touch-screen tablet from India, the technology gap is shrinking.

Not everyone may have an iPad, but everyone could potentially have a touch-screen device.

What I hope when everyone is wired and computerized, is that we never forget the simple things: fistbumps and ice cream on sunny days.

What we need more than ever is not better technology, but more humanity.

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