Daniel Tsadok
Week 5

Last week, the class watched "Beyond Human", a documentary on practical and theoretical cybernetic enhancement. In this film, we see how this technology is used to help victims of spinal cord injuries, deafness, and blindness. It also shows how nanotechnology can be used for medical purposes. Finally, it discusses how it can also extend our abilities as humans in other ways, such as enhanced perception and communication, but also to read information from brain waves. The film brings up the question of what it means to be human in the first place, once we have so much electronic gadgetry lodged in our bodies. It also forces us to reconsider the nature of our sensory perception. One example in the film: a man walks around school with a camera in his glasses, and the glasses themselves are monitors. Therefore, he is looking at an image of what is directly in front of him. Is he really looking at what is front of him? How are his senses affected by this? These two questions are related - our senses are what we use to interact with the world. It is how we as humans relate to the outside world. Once our perceptions are changed, our humanity is changed as well.

The assigned readings also bring up similar questions. Chapter thirteen goes through the respective histories of artificial intelligence (automata), virtual reality (illusion in art), and rejection of the body (that is, releasing the "soul" from the body in some way). The author shows how all of these ideas are centuries-old, in some cases more. He then claims that telepresence connects all three ideas, although how the first of the three fits in is not clear. The article considers the effects on sensory perception, and how telepresence affects our sense of distance. Also, although we only interact current technology visually and audially, in the future we may interact with the senses of smell, touch, and taste as well. At that point, we will literally feel like we are somewhere else, with almost no distinction between illusion and reality. Finally, chapter eighteen discusses "film and the new psychology". The main point of this chapter is that the new psychology deals with how a person's consciousness interacts with the world. Old psychology held that our perception and interpretation to a large extent determine reality. However, new psychology claims that things have their own essence, and that we interact with the world on many levels, not just interpretation. In addition, classical psychology looks at emotions in others by drawing on interpretations based on experience. I know you are angry, because I see how you are acting, and have been angry before, and I therefore understand the emotion you are now experiencing. New psychology, by contrast, says that emotions are defined by the behavior resulting from them (behavorism). For example, anger means behaving in an angry way. That means that the way a person interacts with the world *is* the emotion that person is having. This is indicated by the variety of different indicators that a person is angry - his appearance, his behavior, his speech patterns, and even his handwriting all reveal his anger. Finally, film shows us this connection between individuals as a whole and the world as a whole by connecting us to the film in many ways - the order and durations of the scenes, the music in the background, and the tone and style of the dialogue, among others.

Therefore, according to this last reading, we are defined by our perceptions - our interface with the world. If that is the case, how are we *redefined* when we have our vision modified electronically? What happens to our emotions? This is already a very practical question - when we use a "chat" program, how do we express anger? Happiness? Confusion? Many misunderstandings happen because our perception of our chatting partners are not in place. As technology develops, this will certainly happen again.