TED Conversations

Ayesha Sayed

Student, UAEU


This conversation is closed.

Are we becoming less human?

I was chatting with my friends last night and we got on the subject of work/education. As I was listening, I was shocked to discover almost all of them speaking of their work/studies as being very robotic, not human, emotion less. And when I pointed it out, they were equally shocked to realize that they don't really feel human whilst working/studying. They feel like they lose parts of themselves and become like a device that executes this or that. Are we becoming less human?
A second part of the debate was what makes us human, are we losing our humanity as well? I realize it's a very open question but I wanted to put it out there.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Jan 11 2012: I saw this sci-fi movie once called "Dune". In it, a prince was being tested by a female religious order to determine whether or not he was a human being. He had a choice in this ordeal: remove his hand from a box (that was sending him the sensation of pain)and die, or bear the pain and live. Actually, this only demonstrates that the prospect of continued existence was a greater pleasure to him than the potential for relief from removing his hand from the box but immediate death. For now, the ability to calculate toward continued existence over immediate gratification constitutes a human being--or at least a very smart primate. However, I have to disagree with the idea that awareness of our feelings and desiring change make us human( even bacteria exchange chemical data and seek the ideal tonicity of whatever medium them exist in), these traits merely make us talented opportunists and exploiters of others and situations for personal benefit. Should we start realizing and acting consciously within the system of connection between people-be it economic, political, or psychological( or most human, all of them together) -toward the system's benefit and not for self benefit, this would be closer to Human. For the time being, our actions are like those of individual neurons that think the data and sensations they perceive constitutes real awareness and are content with that level of being. However, were they to link with other neurons and and function toward the edification of the revealed connection and all the wonders manifested therein, they'd never revert to their small chemical + and - existence again.
    • E Pines

      • +12
      Jan 11 2012: Monte, I think that your point about the "gome jabbar" needle ring is very pointed indeed (triple pun intended - :) ). And indeed per Shakespeare, that is the question: "Whether t'is nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or..."

      I was a bit of a Frank Herbert fan myself, and I think that we see still further in his thinking, that the road to being human starts wth the choice of life with its pain, or death with its appearance of carefree oblivion. However, the one who successfully completes it can end the true leader of humanity -- here, Herbert's Dune messiah, the "Muad'Dib".

      I agree with you and Frank Herbert too, in that being intelligent apprehension of our emotions and following our desires only makes us clever beasties -- not humans. What makes us human is to strive to rise above the beast and rather than merely being a slave to the pull of lust and the push of pain, actively understand where we ae to evolve to and of our own free will, become a partner rather than mindless part in that path. One can't fight Nature, but one can willing join it.

      We see where the world is going: technological leaps and globally limits on growth that bind the globe in evertightening interdependence between all people, and even the ecology/climate. And that direction is two-fold. One is a chaos of evergrowing problems in an evergrowing number of dimensions, per Einstein's dire warning that the human mind produces technologies whose problems are beyond it ken. The other is a communication/computational linking of all of Humanity -- in other words, we are being evolved by high tech lust into a megacolony -- a supermind -- that IS capable of lthriving in this new world.

      The problem is our puzzle pieces are not being nicely fit together by Nature but are being shaken around to fit. Will ourselves to mutual concern and guarantee, and we will all fit smoothly. So lets will to do what those bacterial megacolonies do mindlessly --that's true human.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.