The Essential Human Experience
In his essay, “Human Dignity,” Francis Fukuyama discusses his fear of a technological future that includes bioengineered humans and artificial intelligences and how they would affect the human status quo. Steve Olson’s “The End of Race: Hawaii and the Mixing of Peoples” complements these issues as he discusses the effects of physical appearance in determining humanness and yet in all actuality humans are essentially equal. Pat Cadigan’s short story, “Pretty Boy Crossover,” paints a hypothetical picture of Fukuyama’s fears for the future and how that may affect Olson’s working definition of human equality. Looking at all three writings leads one to question how we quantify consciousness, which is an essentially unquantifiable trait. However, in Cadigan’s hypothetical universe, humans have supposedly discovered a way to quantify consciousness and download people onto computer chips where they can exist perfectly indefinitely in cyberspace as glorified and idolized artificial intelligences. Moreover, Cadigan’s writing, much like Fukuyama, questions if these cyber-manifestations are truly human anymore. Taking all three writers into account, it would seem that it remains a challenge to define what it is that makes us human, especially with the continuing progression of human integration with technology. This paper will make the argument that our physical environments and bodies have a direct influence on our consciousness and how we perceive the world.
Fukuyama makes a reasonable attempt at quantifying humanity through his definition of “Factor X,” which is a culmination of essential human traits such as consciousness, morality, and personality. He continues to use this working definition as a key argument “to protect the full range of our complex, evolved natures against attempts at self-modification” (Fukuyama 159). Cadigan would likely agree that Fukuyama is right to be fearful...
Cited: Cadigan, Pat. “Pretty Boy Crossover.” 2001. 1-11. Short Story.
Fukuyama, Francis. "Human Dignity." Emerging: Contemporary Readings for Writers. Ed.
Barrios, Barclay. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin 's, 2010. 141-163. Collection.
Olson, Steve. “The End of Race: Hawaii and the Mixing of Peoples.” Emerging: Contemporary
Readings for Writers. Ed. Barrios, Barclay. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010. 250-262.
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