Having a Sense of Ourselves: TEchnology and Personal Identity
CPM Report No.: 00-64
By: Leslie Henrickson
Date: 2nd May 2000
A Paper at: The "Starting from
Society" symposium at ASIB'2000
convention, Birmingham University, 16th-19th April 2000.
Also published as: Leslie Henrickson (2000), "Having a Sense of
Ourselves: TEchnology and Personal Identity", in the Proceedings of the AISB'00
Symposium on Starting from Society - the Application of Social Analogies to
Computational Systems, Birmingham, UK: AISB, 61-66. (ISBN 1 902956 13 8)
The rapidity of technological advancement staggers the imagination and catches many people
off-guard as they try to absorb the impact of learning new technologies, new tools, new ways of
knowing. Reactions toward new technologies can elicit resistance and adoption. This paper
explores the character of resistance and adoption of technology from the theoretical
perspectives of instrumentalism and critical theory. Key to this analysis is the interplay between
human senses and technology as it alters notions of personal identity and of social world views.
The implications of identity alteration affect both computational modeling researchers and
educators. In particular, computational modeling researchers who wish to incorporate socially
constructed identity into their models learn that personal identity is not fixed in time or space,
and that the use of electronic technology plays a role in such changes. More broadly, for
educators the implications are explicitly focused on developing multiple literacies in anticipation
of the changing role that human senses play in communications technologies.