After shocks: Posthuman ambivalence

  • N Katherine Hayles
Response Essay

When I began writing How We Became Posthuman(1999), I was drawn to the topic in part because of the intense ambivalence I felt toward the idea of the posthuman. I thought, no doubt naively, that writing would help me resolve it. Far from overcoming mixed feelings, the writing intensified my emotions by bringing the issues into sharper focus. As David Gary Shaw rightly observes, the book is drenched in feelings – feelings of dread, possibility and hope. More than a decade later, my ambivalence remains unresolved. I do not doubt that coming decades will see us plunging deeper into what I have elsewhere called the regime of computation, creating more intelligent machines and more pervasive data systems that, having already transformed the meaning of ‘human,’ will continue to do so with increasing urgency and momentum. What are we to make of this trajectory, and what are the possibilities for constructive interventions?

While I have not escaped dread in contemplating these questions, I...


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • N Katherine Hayles
    • 1
  1. 1.Program in Literature, Duke University

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