Intimate technology is helping us to overcome our physical and cognitive limitations. New interfaces are ancillary to our senses, robotics strengthen us physically and we perceive our dealings with digital assistants to be an extension of our cognitive capacities. Developments in intimate technology such as wearables and the field of bionics showcase the more visible side of the cyborg, with artificial hearts and brain-computer interfaces as paradigmatic innovations. On a deeper level, the wish for automation has always been a strong push factor in the development of artificial intelligence. Furthermore, often overlooked, the idea that we can and are allowed to engineer, tweak and enhance our biological givenness demands a secular and postmodern ideology.
Creating or producing people that are more effective, smarter, healthier is an important way to boost society’s total factor productivity, and thus to boost the economy as well as to boost scientific research and development.
Mankind has long been plagued by three main evils: poverty, famine and sickness. By understanding social structures as data processing systems, and given the rapid advances of AI systems and the abundance of digital data, Harari expects that autonomous smart systems could help mankind to get rid of these three evils. As such, we are moving beyond the traditional boundaries of human kind, and transforming from homo sapiens into a homo deus. This belief in the “sanctifying” powers of digital technology is what we have called “technological divination”.
We increasingly interact with the world and with our technology through ICTs (as well as ICTs interacting amongst themselves invisibly), we are going to interpret the world in ICT-friendly terms: informationally. And on the other hand, by creating digital living worlds, we will see the world as inherently informationally. This thinking and acting about and in the world informationally recreates reality as an “infosphere”: the whole informational environment constituted by all informational entities, their properties, interactions, processes, and mutual relations. For example, we increasingly perceive biology as a technology, perceive everybody as a self-tracker, or see football referees as information systems.
The neologism cyborg hints at the hybridity of technology (cybernetic) and man (organism) and mostly deals with the intimate relationship society has with its digital extensions. Although some still advocate the strong separation of the realm of technology and the human, most contemporary thinkers in this field are inclined to blur the traditional boundaries and search for new meaningful conceptions and distinctions. In the posthuman era, the human becomes technological and the technological becomes human. That is the new reality we have to cope with. Computers are perceived as distributed cognition and our wearables enhance our human capabilities.