Week 9 Immersion and Embeddedness

Immersion and embeddedness are related but differ at the level of analytic capabilities and levels of objectivity. An immersive experience like getting “sucked in” to video games hinders the articulation of an objective reality. Immersive experiences tap into our unconscious perceptual habits that guide our actions and decisions, rather than rational reasoning. We are overtaken by our emotions. This implies that the agency of the player or participant is questionable as they rely on the integrated circuit they are part of, without consideration for a larger perspective.

Embeddedness, also implies being part of a circuit of information, but, as in the case of Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto, it is a recognition of being part of that system and examining that place within it. An analysis that takes into account our embeddedness within a larger system, is a truer representation than one that looks at a situation or system from an imagined outside. Acknowledging our embeddedness includes understanding that we are part of the problem, and understanding the instrumentalization of agency in the social sphere. It lets us think about the ways in which oppression operates in terms of self-oppression. That being said, immersion can be a very effective tool in understanding other people’s experiences, and can serve as a useful input in social research. Getting outside of ourselves is important in this sense, as it frees up our imagination, and lets us think outside logic through lived experience.

Haraway’s approach is one that acknowledges the alienation of the human by technology, and in fact celebrates it. The human subject that is threatened by the idea of the cyborg is to a large extent the white male colonizer. The logic that separates human and machine, and human and animal, is the logic of nature vs culture, where nature is something to be dominated. Therefore, the view that is challenged by the idea of the cyborg is one of domination. By recognising that we are all already part human, part animal, part machine, we are recognising our embeddedness in a system, which challenges the superiority of any one thing. Additionally, Haraway is in this way challenging the myth of origin that acts as a confinement based on a “natural” way of being, that has been the enslaver of women throughout history.

Utopian approaches to technology are focused on the future, imagining emancipation without reconciliation with the brutal and complicated history of humanity. Haraway’s approach is one based in materiality and social reality, not only looking to the future, but also reconceptualising the past in an attempt to break out of the recurring cycles of enslavement and liberation.

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2 Comments

  1. It’s interesting how you put this in terms of domination, especially in a colonial sense. I agree with you, but it’s interesting to make that stretch between seeing an aspect of the human race as the enemy vs. seeing AI as the enemy. Can you really see a non human object as the cause of problems in humanity?

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  2. I’m not sure I understand what you are saying. I don’t mean to say that technology is the source of problems for humanity, if anything, I’m saying the exact opposite, that thinking in terms of the cyborg is liberating because it takes us away from biological determinism. This is also what I take Haraway’s position to be.

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