Technoself

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Technoself studies is an emerging, interdisciplinary domain of scholarly research dealing with all aspects of human identity in a technological society [1] focusing on the changing nature of relationships between the human and technology. As new and constantly changing experiences of human identity emerge due to constant technological change, technoself studies seeks to map and analyze these mutually influential developments with a focus on identity, rather than technical developments. The self is thus a key concept of TSS. The term "technoself," advanced by Luppicini (2013), broadly denotes evolving human identity as a result of the adoption of new technology, while avoiding ideological or philosophical biases inherent in other related terms including cyborg, posthuman, transhuman, technohuman, beman, digital identity, avatar, and homotechnicus, though Luppicini acknowledges that these categories "capture important aspects of human identity" (p. 4).[1]

Large portions of many people's lives are lived online or through online tools that develop and influence who we are online and offline. The Internet provides virtual worlds that, in turn, provide individuals an outlet for their virtual identity or identities (Turkle, 1995).[2] Technology also enables many people to have multiple identifications through online personification on social networks and in online games for example.[3] This is when the concept of Online Anonymity comes into play.

Context[edit]

Central to the understanding of the development of technoself studies as a field of research is the idea that human identity is shaped by the adoption of new technologies and the relationship between humans and technology. Advancements in digital technology have recently forced researchers to consider the conception of the self in relation to the increasing reliance of society on the use of technologies in daily tasks in people's personal and professional lives.[1] New technologies, particularly computer-mediated communication tools, have raised questions related to identity in relationship to privacy issues, virtual identity boundaries, online fraud, citizen surveillance, etc. New studies on human identity and technology have emerged from interdisciplinary researchers to interconnect technology domains which were previously unconnected and address the identity challenges related to the rapid technological advancements of modern society.[1]

Identity studies by Descartes (I think therefore I am), followed by Freud (id, ego and super ego), Erikson (ego as an identity within a social reality), Goffman (dramaturgical theory), and Foucault (the materiality of technologies of the self) were essential theoretical precursors upon which the discipline of Technoself Studies was built.[1]

Philosophical Inquiry and Theoretical Framing[edit]

Technoself evolved from early groundwork in identity studies, philosophy of mind, and cognitive science.[1] René Descartes is often credited as one of the first identity theorists of Modernity to question the material world and the certainty of knowledge from the self. Despite heavy criticism, the question he posed regarding the necessary relation between the mind and body is still considered a prevalent theme in contemporary discussions of identity and technology.[4] Another major development in identity studies came from early Social Psychology, Sociology and Psychoanalysis. Beginning with Freud, the psychoanalytic tradition shed some light on the dynamics of identity and personality development. Erving Goffman expanded the inquiry of identity with his dramaturgical theory, which emphasized the centrality of the social realm and the notion of self-presentation to identity. Later, Foucault further expanded the area of inquiry by contemplating how technologies could facilitate the emergence of new ways of relating to oneself.[5]

The most entrenched area of technoself studies is revolved around ontological considerations and conceptualizations of technoself.[1] The effort to identify the essence of human being is frequent in philosophical circles and is entrenched within emerging theoretical scholarship on technoself.[1] DeGrazia’s (2005) examination on identify/numerical identity to shed light on the ethics of human enhancement. According to DeGrazia, human identity is divided into two parts: 1) numerical identity (concerns the continuity of an individual as the same object over time or across procedure), and 2) narrative identity (concerns the changes in self-perception experienced by an individual over time).[6] By dividing human identity into two parts, DeGrazia is facilitating a discussion on the ethics of human enhancements.[6] Meanwhile, Croon Fors (2012) research on the entanglement of the self and digitalization have helped frame ontological considerations related to the conceptualization of technoself studies.[1] Furthermore, the changing nature of identity is a common theme within Technoself studies.[1] As a result, this has given way for scholars to analyze questions such as: How are advances in sensing technologies, biometrics, and genetics changing the way we define and recognize identity? How are technologies changing the way people define themselves and present themselves in society? These types of questions are being heavily analyzed as the conceptualization of identity is changing rapidly.

Homotechnicus and the technoself[edit]

One drawback to the concept of the Technoself, like many other terms used to capture the changing world of technology, is its slight ambiguity. Due to the rapid pace of technological evolution, formalized terms are still seemingly vague. One of the forerunners of technoself studies, Rocci Luppicini, defines the technoself as "a recent concept advanced to address the changing state of human identity in society resulting from the adoption of new technologies." (Luppicini, 2) Based on this definition, some view the technoself as a literal extension of the individual via technology; i.e. an advanced prosthetic arm or a robot that takes thorough and specific instruction from the operator.

Others view the term as a psychological state of mind as opposed to a physical extension. They believe the technoself is the mentality that this society is wholly tethered to technology, dependent on it for survival. Technology literally becomes a part of the self, dictating actions and shaping a generation. The specified meaning of the technoself depends upon individual interpretation, and the formalized terms of this technological era are still developing, creating a variety of opinions.

Homotechnicus[edit]

The homotechnicus is a pivotal aspect of the technoself and the development of future technologies. The term was coined by Galvin in 2003, yet elaborated on by Galvin and Luppicini in 2011, explaining homotechnicus as follows:

Animals are naturally endowed with the necessary instruments for their interaction with the rest of the nature; the human being is born without these means but has the possibility of building artificial instruments, since he himself is an artificial creature, in the sense that artificial is what is formalized by freedom and not by instinct. The original condition of man requires the free interaction with the material cosmos to produce technology. At the end, man is homotechnicus.[7]

The largest defining factor that differentiates humans from animals is the constant hunger for further technological developments. Current technologies are never enough, homosapiens have the urge to continually learn and create more.

History of the Homotechnicus[edit]

There have been five major chapters in the evolution of technology and the progression of the homotechnicus into present day.

Pre-industrial society[edit]

Early western culture saw technology not as an addition to humankind, but as a way in which humans were able to separate themselves from animals. This chapter in evolution focused on the development of basic tools that provided humans with a sense control that was independent of nature. Humans were distinguished from other species as being technologically proficient and developed technology for actions of primary survival, such as agriculture.[1]

Industrial Revolution[edit]

During this time, the evolution of the technoself was a result of the potentially dehumanizing effects that technology was thought to have on humans. There was a fear that technology and technical systems were disruptive forces that eliminated traditional life processes and controlled human society. The human-technology relationship at this time promoted individualism and there was a focus on mastering organizational tools and industry-based technologies. The industrial revolution resulted in increased control over life and society through individualism and industrial growth.[1]

Internet Revolution[edit]

The creation of the internet in 1969 triggered this phase of technoself development. Human beings were empowered by digital technologies which resulted in increased self-expression and social engagement within virtual environments. Human-technical relationships reached past the physical world and human beings were able to experiment with constructing identity in global virtual networks that were separate from real world settings. This period focused on the mastery of information and communication tools which led to online communities and global connectivity. Additionally, advancements in digital technologies also led to new forms of social control and surveillance, both of which influenced how humans related to technology.[1]

Human Enhancement Revolution[edit]

In response to advancements in genetic and medical research, the human enhancement revolution emerged. Technology was developed to assist in the augmentation of physical, emotional, and mental states, e.g. prosthetic limbs, neurochips, and mood enhancing drugs. This period focused on mastering tools and techniques that stimulated new human-technological relationships. Technology was no longer solely for the masses, it became an individualized/personalized concept.[1]

Technoself Revolution[edit]

This period is a merging of the internet revolution and the human enhancement revolution. There is a high value placed on digital technology and developing genetic research and human enhancement technologies, both of which are thought to improve human mental, physical, and emotional abilities. This phase of the technoself revolution was met with the introduction of Smart Phones and advanced robotics. Humans no longer consciously acknowledge technology as a distant feature but as part of the individual. This technological relationship has created an environment conducive to potential dependency between humans and technology—technology formulates identity and vice versa.[1] This technological relationship echoes the primary characteristics of Technological Determinism.

Consequences of the Technoself and the Development of Homotechnicus[edit]

In the history of human existence there have been five major chapters of technological identity, and three of them have been in the past 44 years. Technology has been evolving faster than individual generations can keep up. Yet how much is too much? Because of the tethering and co-dependency on technology as an extension of self, are basic human communicative skills diminishing? Technology has become a part of everyday life whether consciously or not, it is present. Autonomy is a figment of the past; constant connectivity is the norm. Human beings must develop the self-control to become consciously aware of the technoself, and focus on thriving as an individual emancipated from the lure of technology.

Homotechnicus and on-line avatars[edit]

An avatar represents an individual, an individual's alter ego, or character(s) within online environments.[8] The subject of online avatars is a relatively new one and there are positive aspects to it, in terms of self-development. If you look at avatars through the lens of the homotechnicus, it would be how this ‘other life’ would help you maintain your psychological well-being in your real life. From the perspective of the homotechnicus theory, online avatars would be a tool that a human would use in order to maintain or improve upon their psychological well-being.

This exercise is a form of escapism by creating an online avatar (computing) where you live a second life like the ones seen on the platforms Habbo Hotel, IMVU, neopets, bebo, Club Penguin, Gaia Online, The Sims Online and Second Life. It is theorized that people use these platforms for various reasons, such as escapism, identity formation, role playing, loneliness or for reasons linked to gender bending. Creating an online avatar can help address those reasons and concerns. Escapism would be addressed because a person would want to live a life that would be different from their offline one. If a person has gender confusion or simply wishes to explore a different gender role or behaviour (gender bender), creating an avatar of the opposite gender can be quite simple and useful in clarifying their own life, or using online avatars for identity formation. They may be trying out how they like being identified as, for example, a 21 year old punk or a 43 year old marine biologist. This concept is also related to role playing, where you can pretend and act like you are someone else. Avatars allow for individuals to explore different personas through identity play.[9]

An example would be that of a husband and wife trying out different characters online to add a different dynamic to their relationship. Another way that online avatars can be useful is for people that experience loneliness. This could be due to a lack of confidence in social situations or a handicap that inhibits their ability to make friends. In sum, online avatars can fill a void in a person's psyche that is centered around a human's basic need for communication. Ultimately, the avatar can be seen as a relatively new tool at the fingertips of the homotechnicus.

Key concepts[edit]

Cyborg[edit]

A cyborg (cybernetic organism) is a term referring to individuals with “both biological and artificial parts.” Cyborgs are known as being half-human, half machine organisms, due to the fact that they are always connected with technology. This term, which was coined in 1960 by Manfred Clynes, refers to and acknowledges those beings whose abilities have been enhanced due to the presence and advancement of technology. The notion of cyborg has played a part in breaking down boundaries between humans and non-humans living within a technologically advanced society. For example, those who have installed pacemakers, hearing aids, artificial body parts, cochlear implants as well as other technologies that may aid in enhancing an organisms abilities and capacities to perform, either physically or mentally.[1]

Transhuman[edit]

Transhuman is a concept that emerged as a result of the transhumanist movement which was centred around the notion of improving the abilities of human beings mainly through both ‘scientific and technical means.' Unlike the posthuman concept, the notion of transhuman is based on human augmentation but does not commit itself to positing a new separate species.[1] The philosophy of transhumanism was developed in the 1990s by British philosopher Max More who articulated the principles of transhumanism as a futurist philosophy. However, the transhuman philosophy has also been subject to scrutiny by prominent scholars such as Francis Fukuyama.

Posthuman[edit]

Posthuman is a concept that aims towards signifying and characterizing a fresh and enhanced type of being. This organism is highly representative of a being that embraces drastic capabilities that exceed current human capabilities that are presently defining human beings. This posthuman state of identity has mainly resulted from the advancement of technological presence. According to Luppicini, posthuman capabilities "suggest a new type of being over and above human. This compromises the neutrality needed for a clear conception of human identity in the face of human-technological integration." This concept aims towards enabling a brighter future concerned with gaining a better perception of the world through various viewpoints.[1]

Online identity[edit]

Forming an online identity is considered to be the action of forming a social identity through the aid of the internet and various online social networking services such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and many others. Online, users are given the option of portraying their real identity or concealing it. They may choose to be themselves, or they may create an exaggerated persona of their character, in order to enhance their qualities and become the ideal self, they have always wanted to be. Online anonymity is in fact one of the downfalls of the digital era. Parks and Floyd (1996) acknowledge the negative aspects of computer-mediated communication, which are manipulation and deception.[10] Moreover, the online world provides individuals with great opportunities of expressing themselves freely, knowing that they are hiding behind anonymous identities. It gives them the opportunity to explore different interests and aspects of their identities that they might not have been able to explore in the real world, meanwhile giving them the opportunity to not only alter their identities, but to create entirely new and unrestrained identities. The Internet has the potential to reduce identity and rid it of its potential complexity- but can strengthen solid identities. Technology entails escaping of expectations, e.g. leaving home to escape local community may have some similarity to going online to try out new identities and test the self and the other.[11]

Technotherapy[edit]

Technotherapy, is computer generated therapy people receive. It is like a diary for people to talk or write out their feelings enabling self-reflection and attention through computer generated responses. It provides a cost-effective means that is convenient but does not provide the interpersonal relationship that face to face therapy does.[12]

Key areas and issues[edit]

The key areas and issues in technoself studies are divided into several sections. The areas of focus are: philosophical inquiry and theoretical framing, digital identity and virtual life, human enhancement technologies, and their regulation.[1] The selection of these key areas and issues in technoself studies were influenced by extensive research on the field for several years, and input from an editorial advisory, and review board [1]

Digital Identity and Virtual Life[edit]

The second key area of technoself scholarship deals with digital identity construction and virtual life. That is because digital identity, and virtual life research has raised many issues within TSS concerning mediated identity and its implications.[1] The areas of focus on this issue include: how individuals treat the identity of others in an online space, how people use media to develop and project their identity, and how digital representation can alter life meaning and identity (Luppicini, 2013). These distinct issues of identity and technology are critical topics of research in TSS.

The term "technoself" is often used interchangeably with "virtual self". In this case, technoself is used to refer to a virtual manifestation of one's self. The ability to project themselves into virtual worlds allows users to completely control their appearance. Users are able to customize their virtual identity and craft a persona to their liking. The process of identity construction is an important aspect to communication.[13] The malleability of online identities allows users not only to create their own virtual self, but also to continual change and mold their online selves in ways impossible to do to their real identities. Users can edit and change their virtual selves' appearance and behavior to control other users' perception of them.[14]

Luppicini argues that the rise of online life creates serious questions on the advantages and disadvantages of online communities along with the challenges to online identity construction (Turkle, 1999). He notes the negative influence of the impersonality of virtual communities on offline interaction and the consequence of Internet addiction. Sherry Turkle states: “ We discovered the network – the world of connectivity- to be uniquely suited to the overworked and overscheduled life it makes possible. And now we look to the network to defend us against loneliness even as we want it to control the intensity of our connections.[15] (Luppicini p. 11)

Human Enhancement[edit]

Rights and privacy issues over human enhancement technology has given rise to challenging topics within technoself studies.[1] For example, the consideration of ethical polices and guidelines in the deployment of HET is an emerging topic within TSS.[1] Further, the question of access to HET, and where we draw the line between necessary therapeutic technologies, and frivolous human enhancement are being raised in TSS.[1] Therefore, the emerging topic regarding the rights and privacy over HET is of great interest within TSS. Popular HET's topics in recent research academia include: Sex (re assignment) (Diamond & Sigmundson, 1997; Zucker, 2002), mood enhancers (Rabin, 2006), cognitive enhancers (Walker, 2008), genomics (Zwart, 2009), and neuro enhancement (Northoff,1996). A second line of inquiry explores social, legal, and ethical aspects of human enhancement and possible threats to human dignity that could arise from the implementation of human enhancements (Bostrom, 2005).

Privacy and Surveillance of the Technoself[edit]

Computer networking and smart technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID), geographical information systems (GIS), and global positioning systems (GPS) are providing new tools and techniques for monitoring individuals and their behavior.[1] The rise in these types of technologies has raised concerns over the invasion of privacy, and the misuse of information.[1] That is because the networked identity of technoselves can be exploited by third parties who may want to gain access and control over personal information.[1] Moreover, the implications of the sophisticated technologies for identifying and tracking people, the storage of this data, and the governmental use of surveillance to track suspicious types of people are significant issues in privacy/surveillance and TSS.[1] The availability of related technologies (e.g. EyeTap, Memoto) to individuals (as opposed to governments or commercial interests) has also led to the phenomenon dubbed sousveillance, whereby individuals track or record authorities' activities either online or in real environments.

Leading scholars in the study of surveillance include David Lyon and Mark Andrejevic. In addition to contributing to the advent of citizen journalism, the proliferation of sousveillance technologies has suggested a number of legal/regulatory, ethical, and social implications for democratic and consumer rights. A dramatic illustration of these concerns comes from University of Toronto Professor Steve Mann, a privacy rights advocate and pioneering engineer of such technologies. After being allegedly assaulted in a French McDonalds restaurant for wearing an augmented-reality digital eye glass device, Mann was, ironically, allegedly denied access to McDonald’s own surveillance camera footage. This led to Mann’s coinage of the term “McVeillance” for instances of surveillance/sousveillance double standards and to his contribution the proposal of the Mann-Wassell law in the New York legislature.

Digital Identity and Virtual Life[edit]

Digital identity and virtual life are key areas of investigation in Technoself Studies.[16] These areas of TSS explore how individuals explore, develop and represent their identities in online, virtual or mediated environments. Some topic include: online identity and intellectual disability, avatars and online identity, immigrant identity and digital diaspora, gender identity, identity and mass media in sport, identity and social networking.[17] Research into virtual life and digital identities is concerned not only with how individuals relate to their own mediated identities, but also with how they relate to those of others. Yet other TSS scholars are interested in how technologies affect individual identity. Research into digital identity and virtual life has a history of examining both the advantages and disadvantages of online life and digital identity constriction.[18]

Anonymity is a paramount and dynamic feature of virtual social interaction within the online public sphere. When an individual has no need to disclose their manifest identity, they are enabled to explore undiscovered aspects of themselves.[19] In this expansion of the self, anonymous individuals may try on various identities which break traditional social norms, without fear of retribution or judgment. This contributes to the creation of ‘super-selves’, through which individuals may amplify aspects of their projected identities in order to form an ideal expression of the self.[5] The fact that the vast majority of virtual encounters are anonymous in nature allows a ‘strangers on a train’ phenomenon to take place. Through invented and unknown persona, individuals are able to engage in self-disclosure, transvestism and fantasizing. However, this freedom may not be absolute, as there are many risks in participating in an online community, including identity theft and the potential linkage between anonymous and manifest identities.[20] Anonymity also may have legal ramifications, making it difficult for law enforcement to maintain control over online communities. Tracking down online law-breakers is difficult when their identity is unknown. Anonymity also frees individuals to behave in socially undesirable and harmful ways which can result in forms of hate speech and cruel online behaviour. Lastly, anonymity also diminishes the integrity of information, and as a result, diminished the overall trust of online environment.[21]

Within these areas of scholarship various topics of study have become quite popular. One of the more popular topics for research on digital identity and virtual life has been online avatars. Here scholars have focused on the role of avatars in identity exploration, in priming certain behaviours, and in self-presentation.[22] Other TSS research on virtual life and digital identities have looked specifically at the use of communication technologies by immigrant individuals as part of a digital diaspora.[23] These scholars examine a trend in which diasporic immigrants who feel disconnected from their cultural identities have turned to digital technologies as a way to reconnect. With the current popularity of social networking sites it is no surprise that TSS scholars have also begun studying the effects that such constant and mediated social connections have on identity.[24] Other areas of TSS research on digital identity and virtual life have included intellectual disability, gender identity, and mass media in sport.[16]

Dictionary definition of an Avatar: 1) A manifestation of a deity in bodily form on earth; 2) An incarnation, embodiment, or manifestation of a person or idea. In terms of avatars and computing, they are a kind of technology used by an active online audience.[25] Users associate themselves with avatars as digital representatives within a duplicated and simulated virtual community. The user’s body is essentially plugged in and at rest within the avatar world, thereby creating the illusion of infinite “space” behind the computer screen. As a result, they provide the opportunity for users to manipulate their worlds and the spaces and objects they interact with.[26] Participation in online communities has resulted in the creation of a virtual economy based on the semantic value of digital products.[27] This form of online consumerism is centered on the creation of avatars as extensions of the self. The purchase of symbolic goods for these avatars relates to the emotional and social value that the user holds for these items. These products may indicate roles or personality traits of players within a community and consist primarily of task oriented and nonfunctional items.[27]

Human Enhancement[edit]

Human enhancement technology (HET) is the study of tools that would better and improve a human being's way of life.[16] It seeks to advance and progress what humans already do within their normal lives. However, customarily it seeks to aid any illnesses and weaknesses in the body. Popular topics within this new area of study include, sex reassignment, mood enhancers, genomics, and neuro enhancement.[16] Enhancement within the workplace is a new topic of discussion, while the workplace should be adapting to the various types of human impairment, it seems that improving the workers is of more concern to corporations.[28] Through the use of cyborg prosthetics one can assemble themselves in their own vision, any disfigurement or handicap can possibly disappear.[29] Within the evolution of cyborg prosthetics a human is able to physically grasp things more easily, allowing more or the population to engage in whatever they choose. A large aspect of this technology stems from the ability to determine who may and may not benefit, as well as how should access to these new technologies be determined. In our current society we see change occurring in the most superficial ways possible, through the constant alterations and transformation that the body is put through. Human bodies can be improved upon through natural effects, and more popularly effects the involve technology.[29] This new form of enhancement is connected with what humans perceive of themselves, and as to how their own identity is created. A human operates based on their abilities; these capabilities are the factors and characteristics that create a personality.[30] The augmentation of these aptitudes leads to a new human, who has a renewed sense of who they are. The term ‘free to be me’ is closely related to this new form of enhancement, wherein technological enhancements can be either cosmetic or reconstructive.[29] Through the incorporation of medicine and technology “…cosmetic surgery then becomes a technology through which the body is normalized and homogenized as much as enhanced”.[29]

Transhumanism[edit]

Transhuman thought focuses on beliefs held that the fundamental transformation of the human condition will be through the development of various technology, which will eventually eliminate human aging and will enhance human capacities, both physical and mental.[31] Believers in this theory think that the future of human development will see a new intelligent species that will be enhanced by the technological advances. They use these technological advances to approach various issues regarding the human experience, like morality and health issues.[32] They see this convergence happening through the support of current technologies and the vision of technology in the future; using these advances to eventually make humans more than human, enhanced through this technology. Their central argument is that humans need to be able to choose whether or not this technology is used by them or not.[33]

This theory expands on the notion of technoself, as transhumanism poses what to many who hold these beliefs is the natural evolution of the human condition. Many look to the history of technological advancements as proof that these future advancements are possible, at least in theory.

Real and Virtual Identities[edit]

Avatars are a visual representation of a user in an online environment. This representation may be an accurate physical representation of the user, or may be completely different. This online representation may affect the offline self. Pena and his colleagues explored a phenomenon known as the “Proteus Effect” wherein “avatars can prime negative attitudes and cognition in desktop virtual settings”.[34] They conducted a study that demonstrated how the appearance and affiliations of an individual’s online avatar can alter the individual’s offscreen personality and attitudes. Pena’s group used virtual group discussions to gauge the aggressiveness of individuals using avatars wearing black cloaks versus their control group counterparts wearing white and found more aggressive intentions and attitudes in the black cloak group.

Similar results were found in a second study that used Thematic Apperception Test studies to determine the differences between values and attitudes of a control group and a group using a Ku Klux Klan (KKK)-associated avatar. Individuals using the KKK-associated avatars were less affiliative and displayed more negative thoughts than the control group. Further support for Pena et al.’s work can be found in other studies that yielded similar results: “Yee and Bailenson found that, in an immersive 3D environment, participants using avatars with more attractive faces walked closer and disclosed more information when compared to those using avatars with less attractive faces.[35] In addition...participants using taller avatars tended to negotiate more forcefully in comparison to those using shorter avatars.”.[34] A growing body of evidence supports how our online personas can affect our offline self; altering our attitudes and values.

Online anonymity and presentation of the self[edit]

Online anonymity is commonly described using the phrase “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog". Online anonymity allows users to present different versions of themselves in online environments. Unconstrained by physical limitations, users are free to choose and construct their virtual form(s) and identities. Virtual spaces which foster such freedom and anonymity therefore allow users to depart from the expectations, norms, and behaviours of their daily lives.[36]

A user’s online identity is a social identity that represents the user in the online environment, allowing a user a high level of control over their identity in a way that differs from the offline world. Turkle found that the level of control over creating an online identity also extends to the intensity of connections made in such virtual spaces, as users may engage and disengage at will.[37] Dervin and Abbas note that Turkle, in her early work was “one of the first to show how anonymity ‘provides ample room for individuals to express unexplored parts of themselves’ more easily than in face-to-face interaction”.[38]

Avatars can be an important element of the online presentation of the user. In many cases, “avatars in blogging were created to accurately reflect their owners’ physical appearance, lifestyle and preferences. By contrast, participants in the dating and gaming treatments accentuated certain aspects of their avatar to reflect the tone and perceived expectations of the context”.[39] In other words, individuals often emphasize or downplay certain characteristics depending upon the context of their online interactions. These inconsistencies tend to be trivial, however. For instance, men tend to mildly exaggerate their height, while women often underestimate their weight. This is typically not an attempt to mislead others but to be as honest as possible while still presenting themselves in the best light.

According to Vasalou & Joinson, although various online forums may present us with the opportunity to create (an) alternate persona(s), we typically choose to create an avatar or represent ourselves in a way that is consistent with reality: “In having equal access to everyday artifacts and fantasy options, participants were inclined to draw on existing self-views rather than grasping the opportunity to explore other personas". Furthermore, Vasalou and Joinson also claim that, in the context of online communication, high self-awareness (as demonstrated by an avatar largely consistent with an individual’s offline persona), contributes to a higher rate of interpersonal communication.[39]

Influential scholars and works[edit]

The field of technoself studies, being a relatively new field of study, is somewhat limited in the number of relevant scholars and academic works. One of the more relevant works in this emerging research domain is the “Handbook of Research on Technoself: Identity in Technological Society” by Rocci Luppicini.[40] Luppicini is a professor at the University of Ottawa, Canada. In the work, Luppicini gives a thorough overview of Technoself Studies (TSS), examining its emergence, key developments and key areas and issues, among other things.[40]

There are several other academic scholars and works that examine technological identity and creation of the self which align with the concept of “Technoself”. Among these are Robert Andrew Dunn’s “Identity Theories and Technology”[41] and Nach and Lejuene’s "Coping with information technology challenges to identity: A theoretical framework".[42] Both works are relatively new pieces that focus on online identity creation in the emerging digital world, a key area of technoself studies.

New Directions and Opportunities in Technoself Research[edit]

Personalized robots and social integration of artificial creatures[edit]

New directions and opportunities in technoself research involving personalized robots and social integration of artificial creatures is becoming an increasing reality. Considering the work of pioneering computer scientists and robotics experts such a Rodney Brooks and Hiroshi Ishiguro, human interaction with personal and social robots reached mainstream audiences beginning with the popularization of robotic dolls and pets for children.[43] There are also robots for adults aimed at therapeutic, personal, and social applications (Paro Cosmobot, Phobot, Roxxxy, etc.).[43] With personalized robots and the social integration of artificial intelligence, technoself is developing in children through relationships with robotic pets and related robotic technologies based on animals, objects, or people (Tamagotchi, Furby, AIBO, etc.).[43] Current areas of interest in this topic are reported in Melson (2012), which provide helpful insights into children’s views about robot pets, children’s relationship with robotic pets and, conceptualizations of self-identity within child-robot relationships.[43] Other research is focusing more on personalized robots for adults. If the trend towards the personalization of robots and social integration of artificial creatures continues, it is expected that this research will become more prevalent.[43]

Human Enhancement Regulation and Governance[edit]

Human enhancement regulation, governance, and legal concerns has become another growing concern for the opportunity of TSS research. According to Saner and Geelen (2012): there is one framework to guide Technoself governance that distinguishes six different approaches which emerging technologies may affect human identity:

  1. physiscal alteration of existing human beings
  2. changes to how existing human bodies are perceived
  3. the creation of novel humanoid bodies
  4. psychical alteration of existing human environments
  5. changes to the way we perceive existing human environments
  6. creation of novel human environments.[44]

Luppicini posits that this sort of model could "prove invaluable for guiding future devision making directed at the framing of HET regulation debates, as well as leveraging strategic planning and deicision making concerning HET adaption standards." [45]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab Luppicini, R. (2013). The Emerging Field of Technoself Studies. Handbook of Research on Technoself: Identity in a Technological Society, (pp.1-25). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.
  2. ^ Dunn, R. (2012). Identity Theories and Technology (p.27)
  3. ^ Luppicini, R. (2013). The Emerging Field of Technoself Studies. Handbook of Research on Technoself: Identity in a Technological Society, (pp.1-2). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.
  4. ^ Dixon, D. (1990). Man after man: An anthropology of the future.
  5. ^ a b Abbas, Y., and Dervin, F., (2009), Digital Technologies of the Self. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  6. ^ a b DeGrazia, D. (2005). Enhancement technologies and human identity. Journal Of Medicine & Philosophy, 30(3), 261-283.
  7. ^ Galvan, J. & Luppicini, R. Conversation on technoethics and cyborgs. IEEE Pulse, pp. 12-17, January/February 2011
  8. ^ Luppicini, R. (2013). The emerging field of Technoself Studies. In R. Luppicini (ed.). Handbook of Research of Technoself. Hershey: IGI Global., 5
  9. ^ Winder, Davey (2008). Being Virtual, Who You Really Are Online. England: John Wiley & Sons Ltd. p. 7. 
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  14. ^ Seung-A, Annie Jin (November 2012). "The virtual malleable self and the virtual identity discrepancy model: Investigative frameworks for virtual possible selves and others in avatar-based identity construction and social interaction". Computers in Human Behavior 28 (6): 2161. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2012.06.022. 
  15. ^ Luppicini, R., 2013. Handbook of research on technoself: Identity in a technological society. Information Science Reference. p.11
  16. ^ a b c d Luppicini, R. (2013). The emerging field of Technoself Studies. In R. Luppicini (ed.). Handbook of Research of Technoself. Hershey: IGI Global., 15.
  17. ^ Ibid., 15 -16
  18. ^ Ibid., 15 -16
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  20. ^ Turkle, Sherry. (2011). Alone Together. New York: Basic Books.
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  25. ^ Avatar. (2012). Retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/avatar?s=t
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  27. ^ a b Chen, Y., Huang, S., & Shang, R. (2012). A private versus a public space: Anonymity and buying decorative symbolic goods for avatars in a virtual world. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(6), 2227-2235.
  28. ^ Human enhancement. (2012). Psychologist, 25(12), 875-875.
  29. ^ a b c d Hogle, L. F. (2005). Enhancement technologies and the body. Annual Review of Anthropology, 34(1), 695-716. doi: 10.1146/annurev.anthro.33.070203.144020
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  31. ^ Moravec, Hans (1998). "When will computer hardware match the human brain?". Journal of Evolution and Technology 1. Retrieved 2006-06-23.
  32. ^ Moreno, Jonathan D. (2006). Mind Wars: Brain Research and National Defense. Dana Press.
  33. ^ Clark, Amanda C. R. (March 12, 2010). "Transhumanism and Posthumanism: Lifting Man Up or Pulling Him Down?". Ignatius Insight. Retrieved 2012-05-18.
  34. ^ a b Peña, J., Hancock, J., & Merola, N. (2009). The priming effects of avatars in virtual settings. Communication Research, 36(6), 838-856. doi: 10.1177/0093650209346802
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  37. ^ Turkle, S. (2011). Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other. NY: Basic Books
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  40. ^ a b Luppicini, R. (2013). The emerging field of Technoself Studies. In R. Luppicini (ed.). Handbook of Research of Technoself. Hershey: IGI Global., 15.
  41. ^ Dunn, R. A. (2013). Identity Theories and Technology. In R. Luppicini (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Technoself: Identity in a Technological Society (pp. 26-44). Hershey, Pennsylvania: Information Science Publishing. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-2211-1.ch002
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  43. ^ a b c d e Luppicini, R. (2013). The emerging field of Technoself Studies. In R. Luppicini (ed.). Handbook of Research of Technoself. Hershey: IGI Global., 17.
  44. ^ Ibid.
  45. ^ Ibid.

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