Len Ellis

Silicon Simulacra

Silicon Simulacra: Post-humans of the Machine Worlds

The assimilation of humans into machines, once science fiction, is a reality today.  Each of us has virtual versions inside the two great machines of the late modern age.  In the datascape, the vast array of databases in which the details of our daily lives are recorded and analyzed, we appear as profiles.  In cyberspace, the global network of computers in which everyone can connect with everyone, we appear as personas.  

Both are part human.  We continually update both machines, passively and actively, and, as we do, our simulacra change in tandem.  Both are part machine.  The profile is a probabilistic portrait, conjured up by others to inform their decision making; it’s an informational output. The persona is a pattern of connections, created as we present ourselves to and interact with others; it’s a network effect. 

Neither looks anything like the continuous, whole and bounded self of the modern tradition.  Rather, these hybrid entities are contingent, relative and open.  Silicon Simulacra describes how these two semblances come to be, how each represents us and what opportunities and challenges each poses.  The conclusion suggests they are post-human forms -- digital doppelgangers of living humans in their near real-time particulars assimilated into machine worlds.

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