Technogenesis and Adaptation

“Contemporary technogenesis, like evolution in general, is not about progress. That is, it offers no guarantees that the dynamic transformations taking place between humans and technics are moving in a positive direction. Rather, contemporary technogenesis is about adaptation, the fit between organisms and their environments, recognizing that both sides of the engagement (humans and technologies) are undergoing coordinated transformations.”

How Do We Think? 

-N. Katherine Hayles, 2012


- Her, Spike Jonze / Theodore falls in love with his OS, an AI named Samantha.

The more I look at the people I see daily and how they interact with their devices and how it shapes their lives, the more I find that this coordinated transformation of human behavior and technology is more fact than theory. Looking at the latest mobile devices, there is metadata connected to every photo we take, internet where there is LTE connection, and a know-it-all friend like Siri to guide us through the world. Our lives are starting to center around this technology, rather than being unable to function, but being able to function more efficiently.

The technology we use could modify our unconscious behaviors and save or improve millions of lives. Rates of diabetes and heart disease, for example, could be dramatically reduced using a device that teaches us to make healthier decisions about diet and exercise. The device could support habits that reduce accidents at the workplace, or promote the kind of social engagement that reduces crime and improves quality of life.


- Her, Spike Jonze / Wearable technology is not so distant in the future. Google Glass and Siri are eerily similar to the portrayal of Samantha, the OS.

Look at the Spike Jonze movie, Her. Set in the not so distant future, the protagonist’s earpiece is a supercomputer with whom he falls in love with. The interactivity with the device is human-like, with a voice and thoughts, and speaking naturally to the computer is more like a conversation rather than a point and click experience, giving the computer a human-like personality. The people in this future are permanently connected to an internet that is close to cognitive, and screen interfaces that exist in this universe are at most, minimal.

Hayles’s point reminds me of a quote of Marshall McLuhan’s, “First we shape our tools, thereafter they shape us.” More and more evidence suggests this reality with our devices, and we may find ourselves in a world closer to that Spike Jonze had envisioned.

- A