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From Technology as Agent to Technology as Substitute: Human Obsolescence?

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.10, 2020

 

From Technology as Agent to Technology as Substitute: Human Obsolescence?

(Abstract)

 

Li He

 

The philosophy of technology should become the “prime philosophy” of our time, as a philosophy that deals with such questions as where technology, the humanities, and humankind are headed. However you look at it, technologies oriented to “external nature of the body” are merely extensions of human organs, and are thus “agents” of human beings; but technologies oriented to human “body nature” itself are increasingly showing that they function as substitutes for the natural human body. Contemporary bioengineering and artificial intelligence represent two technological approaches that are substitutes for the natural human body. “Substitution” is the core theme of the transformation from human to post-human technology and from anthropocentric humanism to post-humanism, so it should be the primary theme of this prime philosophy. Exploration of this theme, or reconsideration of the nature of technology, is inseparable from discussion of “human obsolescence,” of the “Prometheus principle of contrasting differences,” of “post-human/post-humanism,” of “algorithmic ontology,” of the “posthuman implications of the digital humanities,” of “the death of the author—the death of the classics—the death of reading the classics” and of other concepts along those lines.