Author: Avery Padula

Re-defining and Saving Humanity

Initially, the only exposure I had to ideas relating to this class were in movies. Wall-e takes on ideas about technology becoming a catalyst in humanity’s inevitable decay into self-indulgence and laziness. However, the end of the film reveals a hopeful message regarding both humans and technology in general. This is due to the fact that Wall-e is the protagonist of the film, and one who does not use language in a conventional way that humans do. Despite the alienation of his origin and his way of communication, Wall-e clings to the very essence of humanity in the garbage that he is meant to store away. A robot designed to take trash and compact it into easy organizable cubes, he subverts the tropes of a conventional robot by sifting through the rubbish. It is this compassion that he feels for everyday objects that sustains the films heart and hope about the restoration of passion in the collective human soul. Wall-e is a mainstream animated film that allows its protagonist to exist beyond conceptions of race, gender, etc, while still creating empathy. I never thought about this in depth before the information that I learned taking the class Posthumanism in Literature, which operated at a more conceptual level than what we have explored in this class so far. A loose definition of posthumanism in its relation to the course is “a branch of cultural theory critical of the foundational assumptions of humanism and its legacy that examines and questions the historical notions of “human” and “human nature”, often challenging typical notions of human subjectivity and embodiment and strives to move beyond archaic concepts of “human nature” to develop ones which constantly adapt to contemporary technoscientific knowledge”. Essentially we discussed what representations of cyborgs, artificial intelligence, and future improvements in technology meant in relation to shifting from classic narratives and representation. I also have been interested in the intersection of digital imagery technology in archaeological digging sites to recreate virtually what could have been destroyed and curated originally. One example is the use of 3D cameras to compile one million 3-D images of at-risk cultural heritage sites and objects by distributing them to volunteers from NGOs, museums, government organizations across Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, and Yemen. Not only does this preserve the history despite it not surviving its original burial place, its implications for the preservation of archaeological sites of indigenous groups is positive. With imaging technology, the desire to pillage native land for the purpose of biological or historical analysis seems especially invasive as well as borderline illegal in some areas of the world. Moving on from technology that I do not comprehend the logistics of, my understanding of computing is probably the most average, the furthest extent to my computing education ended in digital literacy in the 6th grade. This was my choice however, as I was more drawn to reading and less technical subjects. However I did have to learn to code in a program called Stata for my Modern Political Analysis statistics class, so I am not entirely dumbfounded by some of the language used in extremely basic coding I suppose. I created graphs and input information to reveal relationships between the data. I appreciated learning the intricacies of what exactly created the statistics seen in the media as well as in academic writings. My personal relationship with my computer is one that is not too deep I admit, I use it to write papers and sometimes to play games but besides that I truly do not do anything extraordinary on it. When I took film courses here at Geneseo I often used it to watch the films, before being informed by my professor that it was not the correct way to view it. Even that comment brought up questions about the nature of our perception being altered by technology in general. Watching 2001: A Space Odyssey in theaters with surround sound is going to be an entirely different dynamic than watching it with earbuds on ones laptop. This does beg the question, which is superior? Perhaps that is not the question that needs asking, rather does the alteration in how people are viewing and consuming media ultimately matter? What exactly is going to happen when accessibility of one medium is far more economical than another? I hope that conversations surrounding technology will begin to be tolerant rather than rigid in defining what is better and why, especially when there are further implications surrounding class. Nevertheless, when I am at Geneseo I am always using my laptop, yet when I am home for a winter or summer break it largely remains untouched. If I need something done on the internet, I use my families computer. Nothing I do on my laptop ever truly was unique to that device itself, until this class which required me to do some internal hardware changes. Now, my computer and I will never be the same!