by L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.

I don’t for a minute imagine that we shall ever exceed our human limitations – whatever may be their manifestations.  There are apparently some who think otherwise though to me the theorem is utterly preposterous. I haven’t either the interest or energy to inquire in what fanciful manner or to what extent we might possibly do so.  For me it is a no-brainer; we are confined by nature to our human carton of bricks and mortar. Certainly advancements in medicine are possible but that doesn’t change who we are. Even the evolutionary transformation of life from fins to wings – aside from being accomplished over millions of years (frankly such an inconveivable measurement as to be almost meaningless) – is technically just an incremental organic metamorphosis not a transcendence.

Yet in this terribly modern world of ours – and perhaps in a limited metaphysical sense only – transcending humanity acquires the flavour of legitimacy in an analysis of the effect of computer technology upon us.  Electronic technology is to my thinking gradually purifying (some might say sterilizing) humanity by its imposition of clinical and binary data and re-creating the uncompromising sensory context of our human experience . Contemporaneously this data is being greedily consumed and unwittingly we’re becoming sanitized by the very data we hasten to acquire. The rough edges of life are being sanded and polished. We’ve accelerated a submission to the indifferent but critical world of applied science. I concede too that if by some unanticipated event we’re derailed in this relentless pursuit we risk catapulting ourselves into the mire of a very different order but that is a mockery my instincts prefer to ignore. For the moment anyway we’re on a path of perpetual transcendence.

Interestingly the germination  of this surpassing activity springs from the playground of games that have evolved through technology.  Remember the Pac-Man arcade game from 1980? At the time it was seemingly nothing more than gobbling up a maze of dots.  It was for many unsuspecting people the first introduction to the capability of a computer, specifically the process of composition and editing (a pre-cursor to literary applications).  Although an incredible amount has been reported about the stunning success of the game (including of course its post-production alterations and even a movie), what sticks with me is its precision  and succinctness. The game has an indisputable clarity – you win or you lose, the characters live or die (if you prefer the metaphor). There is a sharpness and vigour to technology which surpasses the customary human narrative.

It is this perfect clarity about technology (and its attendant systematic treatment) which attracts me. There is nothing messy about the world of technology.  Even in a swirl of data the constituent parts remain identifiable and independent. Can there possibly be a greater complement to the human construct?

While it is normal to suggest that adults don’t play games, that they are (or should be) more interested in “intellectual” pursuits, it isn’t much of a stretch from Pac-Man to  the delight extrapolated by so many adults in creating a “blog”.

“It is a place to express yourself to the world. A place to share your thoughts and your passions. Really, it’s anything you want it to be.”

“…the first journalistic model that actually harnesses rather than merely exploits the true democratic nature of the web. It’s a new medium finally finding a unique voice.”–Andrew Sullivan

The technology affords more than fun, it is a re-birth of personal expression. As is now well-known, “the medium is the message” and that medium is one of impeccable precision and production, dare I say perfection!  Surely that epithet qualifies as transcending humanity. I suppose that the ultimate goal of transcending humanity would have to be eternal existence. While there is even talk about accomplishing that goal – where people could live forever – the more fetching allure is the purification of our earthly projects. Consider for example the import of mathematical purity into the world of manufacturing.  Robots, armed with the virtue of uncompromising exactitude, can produce exactly what is imagined. Technology has already begun to infiltrate our food production. And then there are those transportable pocket-sized sound systems which stream microscopic collections of music from our tiny iPhones. We can now hold in the palm of one hand the capacity of a former mainframe computer. Already corporations are talking about embedded chips for their employees; and self-driving automobiles are old hat.

To those who say that technology has produced a proliferation of disorganized information I say that it isn’t long before the management of those “bits” is harnessed and filtered for whatever aspect, purpose or posture may be preferred. The segregation won’t prohibit individuality; rather, like technology generally, it will just make it more accessible and user-friendly. Indeed the search for answers may be turned on its head by cultivating instead a talent for asking the right question and letting the computer do the rest. Consider for example the development of artificial intelligence to create a legally binding contract or a last Will and Testament or even a tax-avoidance scheme. If we accept that knowledge is power there is no reason to deny the empowerment of others. One can as easily speculate that the random moves of an arcade game could be replaced by the predictable strategy of engineered intellectualism, maybe one day replacing the acrimony and stodginess of government to produce workable legislation. The sky is the limit! Beam me up, Scottie!