I recently read an excerpt from N. Katherine Hayles's seminal work How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics, a crucial exploration of posthumanism and the increasing dominance of technological bodies and artificial intelligence. The posthuman condition is the state of existence beyond human, meaning beyond our mere bodies and minds. Posthumanism has been a prominent literary and scientific topic as of recent decades, ranging from Haraway's A Cyborg Manifesto to illustrations of the technological singularity. Science-fiction media commonly illustrates the future as a digital posthuman world, where society is completely controlled by, dependent on, and incorporated with machines, or at least some element of mechanical processing.
Hayles, however, entertains the notion of the posthuman as already an inherent element of humanity currently and not so neatly associated with the expansion of technology. Typical depicctions of posthuman futures have conventionally conveyed that humanity has become seduced by immortality and preserved intelligence by way of digital functions and networks. But Hayles believes that organic life can only remain finite and corporeal. Her vision of the posthuman instead lies only in the proposition that the human mind is to be perceived as a machine and can never explicitly be a machine. When thinking of the brain objectively as an amalgamation of many informational processes, we can perhaps better understand and improve our subjective mental capabilities.
It is hard for me to accept that humans and technology will explicitly be one and the same—how can people really be open to welcoming digital and electronic functions into their bodies? But there is evidence now that suggests such circumstances may materialize. Tattoos make up a large trend in body modification, and other ideas about inserting more artificial substances into the body could grow in the future. Medical tools like pacemakers are already in wide circulation, so more permanent devices could become more common. On the other hand, there is also evidence that supports people's rejection of more invasive technology. The advent of Google Glass was sufficiently unsuccessful, so perhaps humans are not inclined to have digital processes always present in their everyday thinking. I, therefore, align my perspective with Hayles's; the posthuman condition is already apparent in how we merely understand human intellect as a scientific function, but the more extreme version of the posthuman that involves total technological integration seems unlikely.