Exploring Technology Tendencies and Their Impact on Human-Human Interactions

Exploring Technology Tendencies and Their Impact on Human-Human Interactions

Heather C. Lum (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, USA)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6453-0.ch010
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Although traditionally researchers have focused on making robotics more user-friendly from a human perspective, a new theory has begun to take shape in which humans take on the perspective of a robotic entity. The following set of studies examined the concept of technomorphism defined as the attribution of technological characteristics to humans. This concept has been mentioned anecdotally and studied indirectly, but there is nothing currently available to tap into the various forms that technomorphism may take. Through the study of technomorphism, researchers have come slightly closer to the question of how technology is influencing our perceptions of what it means to be human. The findings from this work should help fuel the desire of others in the field to think about the potential influences of technomorphism during the design and implementation of new devices as well as in how technology may be related to how we perceive each other.
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Defining Technomorphism

The concept of technomorphism (first termed mechanomorphism) was mentioned initially in passing by Caporael (1986) as a “schema (albeit an elaboration of anthropomorphism) used by the scientific community, especially by researchers in artificial intelligence and cognitive science” to explain their field and understand complex concepts (p. 216). This term has since been expanded upon to define the attribution of technological characteristics to humans. In considering and perceiving a problem, a typical inclination is to consider the situation in an anthropomorphic way (Nowak & Bloca, 2003). Anthropomorphism involves the attribution of human-like characteristics to non-human entities that may be organic such as an animal, or inorganic, such as a robot or other object (Aggarwal & McGill, 2007). Although it is common to anthropomorphize as a way to understand and relate to non-human entities, perhaps equally as important is an examination of how we use those non-human entities to understand more about ourselves as human beings. Yet, only a handful of studies have even mentioned technomorphism in any form. It has been seen in the science fiction genre with countless characters in movies and books that are described in terms of their mechanical nature. For example, a series of commercials have been produced for the Droid cell phone in which a human using the phone is transformed into a cyborg while using the device. From a scientific perspective, however, technomorphism is something that researchers have been slow to investigate.

It should be noted that technonomorphism may have been employed, at least anecdotally, for many years. As Caporeal mentioned, computer scientists and those in similar fields have used technomorphism to explain how the human brain works by breaking it down into computer terms. For example, in explaining how human memory works, it is common to describe the human memory system by using RAM as a symbol of working memory, whereas a computer hard drive can be considered a long-term memory structure. Thinking in technomorphic terms can help us understand a complex structure such as the brain in much simpler concrete and relatable ways. Because the construct of technonomorphism would not be present without the presence of technology, so next will be a discussion of how the world has changed in the wake of technology’s presence.

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