Replacement of the Self

Throughout the text Carr looks into the developing relationship between people and technology. He discusses the way that simple changes in writing and reading have impacted people and their cognitive capabilities. He considers that writing things down helped memory and critical thinking while technology like the computer and the internet have become a replacement for memory and shortened attention spans. While previous technology was an extension of ourselves, in Carr’s opinion the internet has taken place of the self. It is something that we hear often, people would rather text than talk or take a picture than look. Carr takes this a step further by considering not only our developing relationship with the internet but also how it has impacted our views of own minds.

First, the relationship with technology. Carr notes that we build relationships with the things we use, one example being that the brain considers the tools a carpenter uses as part of his hand, an extension of himself. The tools used impact the work produced. People feel that they make connections with the content of books or movies. However, Carr notes something that struck me as odd, the implication that the human is actually inferior to the computer. He quotes several people who essentially say the same thing, that the human brain is not as good as what the internet can provide. There is no question that the internet is a step in technology, but the next step for human kind seems like something out of a terrible Sci-Fi film. The internet has more information, but it is only a human creation, a conglomeration of various opinions.


However, this line between man and machine becomes blurred when interacting with Artificial intelligence. This is not an uncommon theme in modern media. Various shows, such as the Twilight Zone or Black Mirror, explore the ideas of forming intimate relationships with computer programs that imitate human behavior. In 2013 there was a movie about a man falling for an AI that he spoke to on his phone and computer, Her. It is a big jump, but it made me think of Siri. A voice in a phone, something that I find myself yelling at in frustration and referring to as a “her.” In a study that Carr discusses, conducted by Weizenbaum, the computer program ELIZA was so popular because people wanted to give the program human qualities, to pretend that it was human. Carr, taking pessimism a step forward, not only shows technology changing relationships but also replacing relationships and then replacing human nature.


Author: meligibs

I am an English Major because I enjoy reading and writing. I am considering a Minor in Museums Studies or in History because I like art, both looking at it and trying to make it, and learning about the past. Hope to use the skills I acquire here to become a published professional writer, like a novelist or to publicize exhibits

6 thoughts on “Replacement of the Self”

  1. I think the whole “human bran vs computer” debate is very interesting. of course the Internet or computer “knows” more than the human brain; it was programmed for that exact purpose. It was built to aid humans in expanding their knowledge by leading them mot millions of different web pages containing new information. I do agree that the line is now blurred because of how much we rely on technology- we all carry at least one small computer with us all the time.


  2. I have seen the movie “Her”, and had the same thought as you, “Siri”. Although I never use Siri because she frustrates the hell out of me, I know many people who rely on her constantly. I think it is our human desire to make the computer humanistic. We spend so much time with it, on it, why wouldn’t we want to have an actual, personal connection with it? I, however, am completely fine with not humanizing technology. I think that is an unnecessary step for the evolution of human beings.
    I have not heard of Siri Pro, but whether the pictures and headlines are just for marketing purpose or whether they are actually true to what they are branding, it’s weird. It literally looks like it came out of a scene from “Her”.


  3. One day, perhaps, these technologies will guide much more than our need for instant gratification. Our love lives might become involved as well. For example, Tinder, the online dating application, has garnered attention around the world, with many million users setting up account to find romantic (and sometimes sexual) partnerships. I believe that could be the tip of the iceberg. Imagine a world, similar to the movie Her, where our devices act and think like humans. A world where the device you talk to is actually more than just a device – it’s something you care about. Or, quite possibly, someone you care about. It’s not presumptuous to think that humans could assign human value to phones and computers. From my understanding, that’s already happened. But it could be worse.


  4. Allowing our brains to be shaped by technology can be difficult, but I’m unsure if our brains are inferior. I understand that the internet has a much larger memory storage than the brain but a human had to program it to do so. I hope that computers never fully surpass humans because what would we do then?


  5. I think it is just a marketing thing, maybe a parody of things like “her,” but its still weird. Also , I never considered the act of communication with technology and that it impacts our relationship. Not using it to contact other people but actually talking to the computer. It is distinctly different from other forms of technology. It shapes our behavior and how we view things. We begin to care.


  6. Melinda, A fun post! I’d like to hear more of your thoughts about the image from Apple that you include in our post. As I look at it, it seems like they are being more ironic than serious in putting Siri forward as a love object. But I’d like to hear more about what you think about all this in relation to things like the ELIZA experiment. ~Joe


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