“Posthuman” as a term is used quite widely and in flowery prose for a range of aggregations of human and other external entities… machinery as in the cyborg, with bionic devices, sensitivity to the environment, connections with others, remote sensing capability beyond normal human sensing, etc.
A person “connected the Internet” by whatever means seems to me to transcend simple improvements to technology which allow us communicate to other separate individuals. The Internet becomes an extension of their capabilities. They can have agents which act within that space in a conceptual sense, and, via connectors, outside that space and back into the real environment. This does not require biological/machine connectivity. The amalgam of a person, their mean of connection to the Internet, and the embodiment of a surrogate on-line agent are sufficient to take us to this “posthuman” state.
We can endow our “avatars” or on-line agents with semi-autonomous capabilities and knowledge via sets of FAQs and answers as we would choose to answer, with sets of processes and procedures, with tutorial capabilities (e.g. MyCybertwin).
But this is a symbiosis of human and AI agent for that person. Not a separately created entity. That raises other issues.
Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner film explores issues of personal identity when autonomous cyborgs are created. Blade Runner is based on the sci-fi story “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”. One aspects covers the nature of our memories and how “real” they might seem even if implanted, adopted or transferred. A discussion of some of these issues is at http://www.philfilms.utm.edu/1/blade.htm.
I personally like the interesting depiction of two types of autonomous AI in Steven Spielberg’s “Artificial Intelligence” movie. This is based on the short story “Supertoys Last All Summer Long”. “David” is the child-like robot who implants on his adopted parents and seeks love from them – for thousands of years. “Teddy” is the wise guardian embedded in a toy and there to support David (AI supporting AI).
I think we will see “Teddy” style robots in our life times especially for the young and the old. Imagine a time when the robotic companion or aid along with the Internet is a part of your wider self, and can supplement the biological self as memory fades and capabilities are lost, and keep you in touch with others.
Further Posthuman Thoughts
See also Presence in the MSc Graduation – Austin Tate, his avatar Ai Austin and his PSA (Personal Satellite Avatar) at the MSc in e-Learning graduation ceremony, University of Edinburgh, 29th November 2012.