Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Questions from the Humanities about the Future of Humanity

Marilyn Middendorf.

Throughout the 20th century, various disciplines within the Humanities have questioned the relationship between Humanity and "its machinery." The perceived threat of being controlled—"taken over"—by the machines we've created looms large in our literature, drama, films, TV shows and public debate. Our historical imagination has worried about the "usually imminent" battle between Humanity and the machines we create and employ as technology-adapting beings.
Because of the rapid advances in our Machinery and technology, we need to redefine Humanity in the 21st century. Our great grandparents actually had little to fear from Machinery and robots. Yet they worried. Because of the technical "realities" of our century, our humanities disciplines must keep questioning the role of machines in our lives. 21st century science is pondering the actuality of the Post Human, or Transhuman world. Many diverse arenas of cutting-edge science are proposing, quite seriously, the prospect of life without Humanity. These far-sighted folks are acting as though the fears of the last century have been considered, and dismissed. We in the Humanities must keep our questioning alive and insistent. Now that the reality of Machines "taking over" Humanity is seen as scientifically possible (and desirable), they've quit asking the signicant questions of the last century. We still need to.


Marilyn Middendorf  (United States)
Associate Professor
Humanities/Social Sciences
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University

My Humanites courses are highly multi-disciplinary and focus on uses of technology.

  • Future
  • Technology
  • Humanities
  • Posthumanity

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)