extinct artificial

Maria Chatzipoulidou
Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of American Lit. and Culture, School of English
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
E-mail: [email protected]
Let there be Websight : The Rise of Posthuman Consciousness and the Question
‘Togetherness’ in Robert J. Sawyer’s WWW: Wake (2009).
Technological dystopias are ubiquitous in the genre of science fiction
literature. Artificial intelligences seeking world domination, sentient robots desiring
to extinct the human race or all-mighty posthumans enslaving the “good old Homo
Sapiens” are common scenarios. In the first installment of his science fiction trilogy
WWW, Canadian writer Robert J. Sawyer makes a different proposition. One in which
“the advent of superintelligence” does not entail subjugation or elimination of the
human race, but interestingly marks the formation of unexpected, and at times,
unintentional human/non-human alliances, leading to an almost ‘naturally born’
togetherness. WWW:Wake, however, is far from a technophiliac’s fantasy. Evertantalizing questions on the essence of post/human identity are the axon around which
Sawyer weaves his characters’ interconnections: Does the posthuman mark the death
of liberal humanism? Can human and posthuman co-exist, or, rather, can they survive
without each other, in a technologically saturated future? A ‘cyborgian’ teenage girl
who interacts with the newly awakened artificial intelligence of the World Wide Web
and ‘wired,’ chimpanzee-bonobo hybrids chatting online attempt to answer those
questions, in Wake. The notion of post-human ‘togetherness’, as it is portrayed in the
novel, will be addressed and contrasted to Haraway’s notion of a “promising autremondialisation,” in order to illustrate that, contrary to current theories of
posthumanism, notions of humanity and individuality are central in Sawyer’s vision
of the posthuman identity.