Jeremy Pettitt on Communication and Culture

Human vs Machine

Posted on January 03, 2022


Over the last several years, I’ve been hearing humans being described using terms for machines and technology.

On the surface, these words and phrases may seem like innocent additions to our conversations as culture adapts to the world around it.

But as a professor who teaches communication I can tell that language matters. A LOT!

You see these terms are being used because they all agree upon and assume a basic concept: that humans are machines.

Here is the problem: Humans are not machines!

Humans have bodies with amazingly tactile skin, nerves that sense pleasure, pressure and pain, and muscles that allow to move in powerful and unexpected ways.

Our bodies are not hardware. While we may be able to replace a knee, hip or even a heart, none of those replacements come without serious trade offs.

Humans also have souls - rational minds, relational emotions, creative imaginations and purposeful wills - each one blending together to make unique and beautiful individual identities.

Our souls are not software. While we can learn new ideas and change our minds, imagine new stories and experience new emotions through a variety of events, the core of who we are cannot simply be reprogrammed like flipping a switch on a machine or altering a line of code in a computer.

We are so much more than machines!

If you need proof, look no further than our creativity. Humans are constantly coming up with new and fresh ideas to solve problems, create art and music and tell stories.

If you need better language to describe us as humans, look to the stronger metaphors of the past for our bodies and souls: natural and organic metaphors.

We have more in common with a tree than we do with a laptop!



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