Sunday, February 1, 2009

Transhumanism and the Third Frontier

For my Anthropology 101 class I was required to read an excerpt from Richard Louv's Last Child in the Woods about American culture's changing relationship with nature. This particular chapter was about what he called the third frontier.

Basically, he stated that America has gone through two frontiers and each one changed how we interacted with nature, from direct utilitarianism during the first, to romantic attachment during the second, and now intellectual detachment during the third. He attributed the third frontier mainly to the rise of urbanism and suburbia, but that wasn't what intrigued me, it was the role of technology in this new frontier. As people become less personally attached to nature but know more about it, biotechnology is blurring the lines between humans and animals, and life-forms and machines. At least that is what he said.

Personally, I don't see why he's so concerned. So what if people have less of a connection to nature, it's because we are able to create our own environments and are reducing our need for nature every year. In a few decades it's likely that people will start living in arcologies, artificial ecologies/self-contained cities that will be even more isolated from nature than modern cities, and in a couple centuries we'll have colonies in outer space. As for the supposed lines dividing humanity from animals and machines, what lines? Humanity is nothing special really, we're just really smart social animals capable of using tools, if, for example wolves had hands and more complex brains they might have done what we have. Also organisms are really just complex chemical machines, why not improve them with silicon and metal, or vice-versa.

3 comments:

Jeweler Mom said...

Ah, but so many of us love nature: walking through the forest, swimming in a lake or paddling in a canoe and just looking up at the stars. I know you enjoy those things too. Nature is our home, our past, our mother. To many of us, detaching from nature is like detaching from your roots - your source of nourishment, stability and joy. Sure, technology's possibilities are exciting but that doesn't mean we should use it to obliterate our home. We should use it to try to preserve nature just like we preserve our history.

waxing poetic.....

ZarPaulus said...

I never said that we should obliterate nature, I just said that we no longer need it. Humanity could live in Arcologies or space habitats and make most of Earth into a nature preserve.

Jeweler Mom said...

You're right, you didn't say we should obliterate nature. But doesn't detachment lead to apathy which leads to negligence which leads to destruction? You do know that there are plenty of people to live off the land now - either making income by working it or actually subsisting with nature. I DO understand why the author of your ANT book is concerned - that's what I'm trying to say. 100 people's negligence/detachment effects 10 people's subsistence. Most people would likely say they NEED nature.