How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, L... and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more


or
Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
Trade in Yours
For a 2.62 Gift Card
Trade in
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Colour:
Image not available

 
Start reading How We Became Posthuman on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies In Cybernetics, Literature, And Informatics [Paperback]

Katherine Hayles
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 16.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
In stock.
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
Want it tomorrow, 26 July? Choose Express delivery at checkout. Details

Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition 7.72  
Hardcover --  
Paperback 16.00  
Trade In this Item for up to 2.62
Trade in How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies In Cybernetics, Literature, And Informatics for an Amazon Gift Card of up to 2.62, which you can then spend on millions of items across the site. Trade-in values may vary (terms apply). Learn more

Book Description

15 Feb 1999
Separating hype from fact, this text investigates the fate of embodiment in the information age. It relates three interwoven stories: how information lost its body, that is, how it came to be conceptualized as an entity separate from the material forms that carry it; the cultural and technological constuction of the cyborg; and the dismantling of the humanist "subject" in cybernetic discourse, along with the emergence of the "posthuman". Ranging across the history of technology, cultural studies and literary criticism, the text shows what had erased, forgotten, and elided to conceive of information as a disembodied entity. The author moves from the post-World War II Macy Conferences on cybernetics to the 1952 novel "Limbo" by Bernard Wolfe; from the concept of self-making to Philip K. Dick's literary explorations of hallucination and reality; and from artificial life to postmodern novels exploring the implications of seeing humans as cybernetic systems.

Frequently Bought Together

How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies In Cybernetics, Literature, And Informatics + The Posthuman
Buy the selected items together
  • The Posthuman 13.79


Product details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 74th edition (15 Feb 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226321460
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226321462
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.3 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 104,138 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
This book began with a roboticist's dream that struck me as a nightmare. Read the first page
Explore More
Concordance
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


Customer Reviews

3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Resistance is futile - read this book 3 May 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
In this book of panoramic scope Hayles considers no less than the fate of the human race. In a rich and detailed discussion ranging from the science fiction of Greg Bear and Philip K. Dick to the science of Norbert Wiener's cybernetics and Claude Shannon's information theory, Hayles traces the changing conception of human consciousness and claims that a great many of us are already posthuman. A posthuman is someone who has been reconstructed in some sense, either physically or mentally, such that he or she exceeds, or believes they can exceed, the boundaries of a human. About ten percent of Americans can be considered cyborgs in the technical sense by virtue of having some kind of artificial implant - these people would qualify as posthuman since they have compensated for some limitation of their bodies through technological augmentation. However, Hayles claims that to be posthuman no prosthesis is necessary, simply the way in which we think about ourselves as conscious agents needs to change. The advent of Shannon's information theory has led to the modern convention of treating information as if it were entirely non-physical. If this idea is applied to the information in our heads - that is, the collection of memories that make each of us unique - then we quickly arrive at the conclusion that our consciousness can be uploaded into a computer, decanted into a robot-body, or even backed-up onto computer disk, giving us eternal life.
This is the story of how information lost its body and it is an idea which is now well established in Western culture and technology. Yet, Hayles believes it to be misguided. Any informational pattern, be it pebbles on the beach or electrons whizzing across the internet, must have a physical embodiment to exist.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
HOW WE BECAME POSTHUMAN by N. Katherine Hayles (Chicago, $18, paper) explores the relation between the computer revolution and our changing ideas of what it means to be a human being. Her pet theme: how information became an entity in itself, divorced from the material that carries it, in both science and literature. Norbert Wiener meets P.K. Dick. (p. 178)
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How We Became Posthuman 10 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you are looking for a book that discusses cloned figures in science fiction then this book may not be for you as Hayles' focus is on cybernetics, informatics and how these have affected the concept of 'human' and 'nonhuman'. In spite of this, her introductions and conclusions, in which she makes general comments about the posthuman figure and how they can function in literature are very compelling. Hayles argues that there is no paradigm in how the posthuman figure can be portrayed; the posthuman can either be exciting because it opens up new ways of looking at what being human means, or the poshuman can be a fearful figure because their presence suggests the end of mankind. The posthuman figure also reflects the fears and hopes of generations and so they can evolve over time. However, such evolution is a continuum and there are no sharp breaks or distinctions in changes to how the posthuman is conceived. The book is very interesting and I would definitely recommend it to any student studying science fiction, or science in fiction.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Read this book to see how an American writes in that obtuse French post-modern style. She covers the psybernetic/media territory from 1943 to 1999 the best I've ever seen. Zig-zags from Gregory Bateson & Alan Turing on to William Gibson and covers the very interesting idea that "information" probably does not exist like we generally think of it...a la Franciso Varela. Most importantly, She retreives Embodiment as the fundamental ground of all consciousness..that no feature of consciousness is ever not physical and even "information"-bits & bytes on/in the 'Net... cyber"space" is always embodied in servers/fiber optic lines/memory storage magnetic fields,etc.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Resistance is futile - read this book 20 April 2002
By C. S. Webster - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In this book of panoramic scope Hayles considers no less than the fate of the human race. In a rich and detailed discussion ranging from the science fiction of Greg Bear and Philip K. Dick to the science of Norbert Wiener's cybernetics and Claude Shannon's information theory, Hayles traces the changing conception of human consciousness and claims that a great many of us are already posthuman. A posthuman is someone who has been reconstructed in some sense, either physically or mentally, such that he or she exceeds, or believes they can exceed, the boundaries of a human. About ten percent of Americans can be considered cyborgs in the technical sense by virtue of having some kind of artificial implant - these people would qualify as posthuman since they have compensated for some limitation of their bodies through technological augmentation. However, Hayles claims that to be posthuman no prosthesis is necessary, simply the way in which we think about ourselves as conscious agents needs to change. The advent of Shannon's information theory has led to the modern convention of treating information as if it were entirely non-physical. If this idea is applied to the information in our heads - that is, the collection of memories that make each of us unique - then we quickly arrive at the conclusion that our consciousness can be uploaded into a computer, decanted into a robot-body, or even backed-up onto computer disk, giving us eternal life.
This is the story of how information lost its body and it is an idea which is now well established in Western culture and technology. Yet, Hayles believes it to be misguided. Any informational pattern, be it pebbles on the beach or electrons whizzing across the internet, must have a physical embodiment to exist. The importance of embodiment is also being discovered in fields such as neurology and experimental robotics. A surprisingly large amount of the information processing essential for being a responsive agent in the world goes on in body parts such as nerves, the spine and the proprioception of joints - our powerful human consciousness is a relatively recent add-on.
Hayles argues that future posthumans will not be the ethereal information-beings of much of current science fiction, but they will certainly have a much more intimate relationship with computers than we do today. In terms of information flows, a collection of humans and computers contains no boundaries between one and the next. As computers approach the complexity of our bodies and information becomes more important to our work and leisure, humans and computers will become more compatible with each other and there will be an increasing potential for one to collapse into the other. Whether this is to the detriment or betterment of humanity represents a cross-roads which urgently needs to be addressed. Hayles is well aware that technology issues such as these currently concern relatively few people - the majority of the world's population has yet to make their first phone call. Yet, now is precisely when such issues need to be aired before our posthuman futures are set in stone as either assimilated components in a vast machine or as free agents with powerful human-integrated technology at our disposal.
52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hayles delivers a (virtual) reality check. 1 Dec 1999
By Neal Stanifer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Finally, a well-informed, razor-smart analysis of the cultural evolution of information as we (mis)understand it today. Hayles does for information and cybernetics what Foucault has done for sexuality, madness and the penal system, and she does it in a way that is thorough-going, highly contemporary, and enjoyable. Hayles offers the paradoxically devastating thesis that, in our visions of information, in our approaches to cybernetics, and in our handling of our own place in the world, Western culture has been hurtling down the wrong path. We have forgotten the physical. Worse, in order to forget the physical, to elide our own bodies, we had to forget or disregard a mountain of evidence. Not content to let us remain ignorant, Hayles recalls that evidence for us, shows us where we've come from, where we are, and offers some insight into where we're going. This is one of those books that you will tell all your friends about.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What is the Posthuman Future? 23 Oct 2005
By Roger D. Launius - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is an important, impressive, and infuriating book that should be read by all those interested in the posthuman movement, the possibility of a cyborg future, and the nature of cyberspace. I agree with other reviewers that it is a penetrating analysis of the cultural revolution taking place in information and what it means for human (and posthuman) society. It is important as a powerful statement of the post-modern concern with embodiment and what that might portend for the future of humanity. It is impressive as a wide-ranging analysis of the inter-linkages of technology, culture, and the human body. It is infuriating because of the jargon-filled text and convoluted nature of the writing. That last criticism is one that is generic for post-modern works such as this, and certainly not a specific criticism of this book.

UCLA professor of English N. Katherine Hayles makes the case that the body (or lack thereof) is central to this posthuman future. She notes that the body is lost in the information age, as disembodied voices/knowledge/data came to dominate thinking about a posthuman evolutionary stage. She also explores the development of the concept of the cyborg, and what the merger of humans and machines might eventually come to mean. She undertakes the analysis through a series of case studies. One of the best of them is her chapter on the science fiction of Philip K. Dick, whose novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" was made into the classic feature film "Blade Runner." His obsession with artificial life, and by extension "real" life, consumed much of Dick's writing and has much to say about the essence of the posthuman.

The most challenging and interesting part of this book is Hayles argument that Homo sapiens as a species are endangered in ways we have never conceptualized. Hayles notes that the rise of artificial life will lead to the next stage of the evolution of life on Earth. "If the name of the game is processing information," she writes, "it is only a matter of time until intelligent machines replace us as our evolutionary heirs. Whether we decide to fight them or join them by becoming computers ourselves, the days of the human race are numbered" (p. 243). The author does not view this with serious trepidation. As her last sentence in the book states: "Although some current versions of the posthuman point toward the anti-human and the apocalyptic, we can craft others that will be conducive to the long-range survival of humans and of the other life-forms, biological and artificial, with whom we share the planet and ourselves" (p. 291).

I think Hayles would agree with the Borg's slogan, "resistance is futile," but not with the dystopian concept of the human future it offers.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning tour de "force" ! Hayles burns up brain circuits! 3 Mar 1999
By Clear Pilot - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Read this book to see how an American writes in that obtuse French post-modern style. She covers the psybernetic/media territory from 1943 to 1999 the best I've ever seen. Zig-zags from Gregory Bateson & Alan Turing on to William Gibson and covers the very interesting idea that "information" probably does not exist like we generally think of it...a la Franciso Varela. Most importantly, She retreives Embodiment as the fundamental ground of all consciousness..that no feature of consciousness is ever not physical and even "information"-bits & bytes on/in the 'Net... cyber"space" is always embodied in servers/fiber optic lines/memory storage magnetic fields,etc.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She's definitely onto something here 10 Jan 2002
By Tara F. Chace - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
When the U.S. president called our war against terrorism a new kind of war--a war of information instead of a traditional war--I was struck by the similarity between what he said and what Hayles wrote a couple years earlier in How We Became Posthuman.
Hayles describes how:
1) information is more important than physical presence
2) consciousness is only part of what makes us human
3) we can think of the body as a prosthesis
4) humans and intelligent machines merge seamlessly
The book is well written, accessible, and has been very useful to me in my PhD literary studies. I highly recommend it!
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
Topic:
First post:
Prompts for sign-in
 

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions
   


Look for similar items by category


Feedback