By A. Cranny-Francis
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Additional info for Technology and Touch: The Biopolitics of Emerging Technologies
219–20) Gaskell generates a chain of significations that includes class, with the newly industrial working class constituted as the monstrous hybrid, and the opposition middle class/working class becoming central to her analysis. In this formulation, the workers have lost the status of ‘human’, which is now the preserve of the powerful middle class to which Gaskell herself belongs. The human–machine or human–technology hybrid was the focus of much fiction and theory throughout the twentieth century, with the greatest concern reserved for those machines that might pass for human.
Picard is, in the Borg’s own term, ‘assimilated’. This image carries a weight of cultural associations and meanings, including the dread of being fundamentally changed, indeed invaded, by technology. This was a particular concern in the late 1980s and early 1990s during the invasion of Western society by a series of viral vectors, biological and technological; including AIDS, (fears of) Ebola, flu viruses and digital viruses transmitted by email (Cranny-Francis, 1995, pp. 95–7). At the same time, however, this image of technological transformation and related powers is compelling, particularly when Picard’s ‘humanity’ re-establishes control over his cyborged-being; he then has the power of the technology under the control of his rational human mind.
On the other hand, designers such as Schroeder and Rebelo (2007) and Kettley (2008) argue for the foregrounding of the interface and its materiality. Without a sense of the boundary between human and technology, they argue, users do not understand that their actions, behaviours and responses are shaped by the parameters or boundaries of the technology they are using; instead they ‘naturalize’ the interaction as simply ‘common sense’ or obvious. These users are radically disempowered, they argue, because they have lost a sense of their own positioning; instead they have been subsumed by the discourses that create the technology.