The New Mobile Subject: Space, Agency, and Ownership in the Techno-Utopian Age
The digital devices we carry around with us have a unique way of defining our practices of embodied space throughout the day, particularly if they are devices that allow us to connect to others. In Natural Born Cyborgs, Andy Clark argues that humans have always had a natural proclivity towards tool-based human extension, beginning with the first uses of speech and language.1 With the development of recent smart technologies, he sees us resembling cyborgs, though not through the merging of flesh and wires, but in the more profound sense of being “human-technological symbionts”2 that are starting to accept machines as tools for overcoming human limitations. Some posthumanist thinkers tend to look at emerging technologies as enhancing the body, with the eventual goal of transforming the human into the posthuman, which relates to Donna Haraway’s rendition of the cyborg.3 The terms “cyborg” and “posthuman” have been used in the media to suggest that our relationship with technology is precarious, and that as our technologies evolve, we in turn become more and more reliant on them. For the purposes of this study, I will be using “posthuman” to refer to a progressive cyborg entity that embraces technology as a tool for human enhancement without sacrificing its agency and identity. Like Haraway, I reject traditional notions of the science-fiction cyborg that provoke images of a being ruled and overtaken by technology, and acknowledge that humans and machines have always overlapped. In viewing the cyborg as a natural step towards our posthuman progression, what I call the “new mobile subject” is part of an evolving balance between the human organic body and its technical self. Throughout this chapter, I will examine the posthuman as a speculative, transient being that is constantly seeking to re-define
itself in the wake of technological developments, while representing a utopian framework for man’s acceptance of technology as a tool for extension.