So, what happens when the metaphor of singularity occurs and the human and computer ultimately come together as one? More importantly, how do we get there?
By asking what it means to be digital, we are essentially trying to see what the future holds for humanity. In fact, a singularity is best defined as a point at which a function takes an infinite value — a point we cannot see past. To answer this question, nonetheless, we must understand that technology has made us who we are. By being digital, we as human beings can no longer be separated from technology (think about the mild heart attack that occurs with a dead iPhone battery.)
Marshall McLuhan’s message involved the idea that our technology writes us as much as we write it. Think about how drastically Instagram is affecting our vacations. Do we even vacation to relieve stress anymore, or do we only visit the beach so that we can take a picture that will receive 100+ likes?
While today’s current media include Facebook and Twitter, our bodies were actually the first medium. We all seemingly want to be individuals (i.e. the hipster movement,) but we simultaneously long to be the same. After all, our bodies are home to one of the first types of communication, speaking. Still, with the rise of the digital world, the first ever medium now causes misunderstandings and builds barriers everyday.
Technology is constantly changing. However, the next big change isn’t necessarily an updated tablet or smart device. The next thing to change is us. In fact, it is safe to say that the future of the digital world involves stripping away the flesh in hopes of making humans more eternal. How cool would it be if I could touch my girlfriend and know exactly what she was thinking? The current “What’s wrong?” “Nothing” texts would become nonexistent, and odds are there would be much less bickering. However, how can we accomplish this goal without changing ourselves beyond recognition?
The answer to this is in fact technology. In fact, Ray Kurzweil’s The Age of Spiritual Machines defines technology as evolution by other means. Ultimately, standard evolution moves too slowly for the liking of human beings in today’s world. Think of the major transformations in the world of technology that we have seen in recent years — the World Wide Web was an invention that greatly shifted the course of technology. With creations like these, computing is growing at an exponential rate.
As the idea of the human flesh is beginning to diminish, we must always remember the ideas of Lev Manovich: we can’t just move on to the “new.” It is important to understand that change never occurs overnight. After all, we did not jump directly from Alexander Graham Bell’s version of the telephone to the iPhone that most of us have in our pockets right now. It is important to understand the value of our past, just like Bell’s telephone: Old media must always inspire the new.