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how we became posthuman

Turing, you use the responses to decide which is the human, which the machine. Turing argued, that machines can think.the formal generation and manipulation of informational patterns. Shannon and Wiener. information as an entity distinct from the substrates carrying it. >> information as a kind of bodiless fluid that could flow between different substrates with- out loss of meaning or form.

Moravec proposed that human identity is essentially an informational pattern rather than an embodied enaction.machines repository of human consciousnes

enacted body- represented body

What the Turing test "proves" is that the overlay between the enacted and the represented bodies is no longer a natural in evitability but a contingent production, mediated by a technology that has become so entwined with the production of identity that it can no longer meaningfully be separated from the human subject a cybernetic circuit that splices your will, desire, and per- ception into a distributed cognitive system in which represented bodies are joined with enacted bodies through mutating and flexible machine inter- faces.

critisicm Hayles to Moravec: how would body be separated from brain, how would consiousness remain the same in another medium

molecular biology treats information as the essential code the body ex- presses.In fact, a defining characteristic of the present cultural moment is the belief that information can circulate unchanged among different material substrates

cyborg-informational pathways connecting the organic body to its prosthetic extensions. This presumes a conception of information as a (disembodied) entity the idea of the feedback loop implies that the boundaries of the autonomous subject are up for grabs, since feedback loops can flow not only within the subject but also between the subject and the envi ronment. From Norbert Wiener on, the flow of information through feed- back loops has been associated with the deconstruction of the liberal humanist subject, the version of the "human" with which I will be con- cerned.

posthuman: privileges informational pattern over material instantiation, s consciousness, regarded as the seat of human identity as an epiphenomenon, as an evolutionary upstart trying to claim that it is the whole show when in actuality it is only a minor sideshow. body as the original prosthesis we all learn to manipulate

C. B. Macpherson's analysis of possessive individualism. Its possessive quality is found in its conception of the individual as essentially the proprietor of his own person or capaci- ties, owing nothing to society for them . ... The human essence is freedom from the wills of others, and freedom is a function of possession, The liberal self is produced by market relations and does not in fact predate them. posthuman by doing away with the "natural" self.

for the posthuman's collective heterogeneous quality implies a dis- tributed cognition located in disparate parts that may be in only tenuous communication with one another If "human essence is freedom from the wills of others," the posthuman is "post" not because it is necessarily unfree but because there is no a priori way to identify a selfwill that can be clearly distingUished from an otherwil liberal humanist subject (feminism=white European male, postcolonialism = unified identity , Delleuze and Guattari Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari have linked it with capitalism, body without organs)

erasure of embodiment

Only because the body is not identified with the self is it possible to claim for the liberal subject its notorious universality,

(human)first of all embodied being, and the complexities of this embodiment mean that human awareness unfolds in ways very different from those of intelligence embodied in cybernetic machines.” (1999, p. 284)


information over materiality

The triumph of information over materiality was a major theme at the first Macy Conference. John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener led the way by making clear that the important entity in the man-machine equation was information, not energy. Central was how much information could flow through the system and how quickly it could move. Wiener, emphasizing the move- ment from energy to information, made the point explicitly: "The funda- mental idea is the message . . . and the fundamental element of the message is the decision."l Decisions are important not because they pro- duce material goods but because they produce information. Control infor- mation, and power follows.

Since structural information indicates how a message should be inter- preted, semantics necessarily enters the picture

Claude Shan- non defined information as a probability function with no dimensions, no materiality, and no necessary connection with meaning.

Like Shannon, Wiener thought of information as representing a choice. More specifically, it represents a choice of one message from among a range of possible messages.

LIBERAL SUBJECTIVITY IMPERILED first-wave cybernetics conveyed, perhaps none was more disturbing and potentially revolutionary than the idea that the boundaries of the human subject are constructed rather than given. Conceptualizing control, communication, and information as an integrated system, cybernetics radically changed how boundaries were conceived.

the cyborg violates the human/machine distinction; replacing cognition with neural feedback, it challenges the human-animal difference;

As George Lakoff and Mark Johnson have shown in their study of em- bodied metaphors, our images of our bodies, their limitations and possibilities, openings and self-containments, inform how we envision the intellectual territories we stake out and occupy.

At the same time that cybernetics was re- configuring the body as an informational system, it was also presenting itself as a science of information that would remap intellectual terrains.

the values ofliberal humanisma coherent, rational self, the right of that self to autonomy and freedom, and a sense of agency linked with a belief in enlightened self-interest-deeply inform Wiener's thinking.

But the confluence of cybernetics with liberal humanism was not to run so smoothly. The parallel between self-regulating machinery and liberal humanism has a history that stretches back into the eighteenth century, as Otto Mayr demonstrates in AuthOrity, Liberty, and Automatic Machinery in Early Modem Europe. Mayr argues that ideas about self-regulation were instrumental in effecting a shift from the centralized authoritarian control that characterized European political philosophy during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (especially in England, France, and Germany) to the Enlightenment philosophies of democracy, decentralized control, and liberal self-regulation. Because systems were envisioned as self-regulating, they could be left to work on their own-from the Invisible Hand of Adam Smith's self-regulating market to the political philosophy of enlightened self-interest. These visions of self-regulating economic and political systems produced a complementary notion of the liberal self as an autonomous, self-regulating subject. By the mid-twentieth century, liberal humanism, self-regulating machinery, and possessive individualism had come together in an uneasy alliance that at once helped to create the cyborg and also undermined the foundations ofliberal subjectivity. Ph.Dick=should a cybernetic machine, sufficiently powerful in its self-regulating processes to become fully conscious and rational, be allowed to own itself? If owning oneself was a constitutive premise for liberal humanism, the cyborg complicated that premise by its figuring of a rational subject who is always already constituted by the forces of capitalist markets.

control =mechanical, thermodynamic, informational

the reification of information, the cultural and technological construction of the cyborg, and the transformation of the human into the posthuman

Maturana: fundamental cognitive operation that an observer performs is the operation of distinction as marking space so that an undifferentiated mass is separated into an in- side and an outside or, in Maturana's terminology, into a unity and a medium in which the unity is embedded. Unities distinguished by the observer can be of two types, simple and composite. A simple unity" only has the properties with which it is endowed by the operations of distinction through which it becomes separated from a background." Composite unities, by contrast, have "structure and organization," terms that Maturana uses in special senses and that require further explanation.

organization to denote the relations actually instantiated by the autopoietic unity's circular processes. Structure, by con- trast, is the particular instantiation that a composite unity enacts at a particular moment.

ability of living organisms to conserve their autopoietic organization is the necessary and sufficient condition for them to count as living systems

life and autopoiesis

All living organisms must be structurally coupled to their environments to continue living; humans, for example, have to breathe air, drink water, eat food and systems to eachother

Information, coding, and teleology are likewise inferences drawn by an observer rather than qualities intrinsic to autopoietic processes. In the au- topoietic account, there are no messages Circulating in feedback loops, nor are there even any genetic codes. These are abstractions invented by the observer to explain what is seen; they exist in the observer's "domain of in- teractions" rather than in autopoiesis itself "the notion of information refers to the observer's degree of uncertainty in his behavior within a domain of alternatives defined by him, hence the notion of information only applies \vithin his cognitive domain"

systems always behave as they should, which is to say, they always operate in accord with their struc- tures, whatever those may be.

==Reconfiguring the Liberal Humanist Subject