This article reports on the influence of an important project of our time, the creation of thinking machines or cyborgs, on the essence of human spirituality. The popular work of Kurzweil was used as a starting point. Kurzweil believes that the cyborgs or man-machine hybrids will not only be a simulation of human cognition but also of consciousness and spirituality. In fact, they will be more than a simulation; they will enhance and alter consciousness and spirituality in a radical, unfathomable way. The basis of Kurzweil's argument is his law of accelerating returns, which predicts such a progress in technology that, if an algorithm for the working of the brain can be formulated, it will be possible to develop software emulating the conscious brain. In this way, current limitations experienced by human beings, including mortality, will be overcome. This assumption was investigated from an anthropological view using Janicaud's concepts. The cyborg is seen as an illustration of people's innate desire to overcome the human condition. Humanity is characterised by a constant struggle to find a balance between the superhuman and the inhuman as the extreme states of human spirituality. This also characterises human liberty - humans are free to choose. Given this characterisation of humanity, the nature of the cyborg as superhuman is then considered. Different possibilities are sketched: the superhuman who will exercise the pure will to power (awakening the inhuman) or a person with a complete naïve freedom. The future is not easy to predict. Janicaud considers the view of the cyborg as superhuman to be a myth. The real danger facing humanity is the inhuman. The growth and progress of technology do not guarantee moral progress. Currently, technology seems to create a sharp divide between a privileged few and the rest. The two world wars in the previous century illustrated ways in which technology could be used to commit cold-blooded barbaric acts on a mass scale. In addition, biotechnology and other technological innovations could give rise to new forms of violence which can effectively be spread by new media. The inhuman is a place from where it is difficult to return.
The challenge of our time is to carry the responsibility of our freedom in such a way that we can defend ourselves against our inhumanity; but in a manner that would enable us also to open up to the radical creativity and strangeness of superhumans lying dormant in us. It is clear that now, more than ever before, human spirituality needs to be as alive and rich as possible to rise to the challenge. However, the belief in technology as utopia enslaves the human spirit. We forget that we are the creators of technology and fabricate excuses for moral and intellectual abdications. Furthermore, the assumption that cognition can be mechanised or formalised leads to the disembodiment of intelligence and thought. Humans are placed outside of the world to which they belong. We become estranged from ourselves and each other. The human spirit seems to be wounded by the prevailing metaphors of disembodiment and mechanisation accompanying technological dominance. This article contributes to the call for the struggle for the re-enchantment of the human spirit. It is imperative that thinkers and innovators - leaders - create new metaphors to provide richer descriptions of humanity. Social sciences, having studied the human condition for centuries, might contribute valuable ideas. Technology can be used in this struggle, but only if human beings understand their own paradoxical nature as well as that of technology. The fortified spirit is one that accepts its mortality and fragility but takes responsibility for its freedom. In this way, meaning is re-introduced in the lives of human beings.
In hierdie artikel word die invloed van die projek van die bou van denkende masjiene of kuborge op die grondslag van menslike geestelikheid bespreek. Die idee van die kuborge word gebruik om die toekoms te bedink. Die kuborg as supermens word as mite uitgewys, terwyl die ontaarding van die mens as 'n realistiese moontlikheid geskets word. Mense, as geestelike wesens, kom noodgedwonge te staan voor die uitdaging om verantwoordelikheid te aanvaar en die toenemend moeilike balans te bewaar tussen die onmenslike en die supermens wat in ons sluimer. Die onmenslike moet in toom gehou word te midde van 'n openheid vir die radikale kreatiwiteit van die supermens. Dit blyk egter dat die gees verwond en aan bande gelê word deur die onderliggende metafore van meganisering en ontliggaming van die tegnologieë van ons tyd. Die gesprek sluit aan by die stryd om die heropluistering van die gees. Tegnologie kan gebruik word in hierdie stryd maar slegs as mense hulle eindigheid verstaan en aanvaar asook dié van tegnologie. Sodoende sal 'n ryker begrip van menslikheid vorendag kom wat betekenis in mense se lewens bring deur die ontwikkeling en gebruik van tegnologie sinvol te rig.