ABSTRACT

In this article I broaden the discussion of posthuman pedagogy by arguing that when humans and Artificial Intelligences (AIs) engage, they are not separate entities but are instead “in-phenomena” (K. Barad, “Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 28[3] [2003]: 801–31). I contend that the division between humans and AI is artificial, and dispute the ontological separability of the two entities while they are in-phenomena. Instead, using anthropologist Tim Ingold’s notion of “correspondence-thinking,” I argue that humans and technology “sync up” and enter into “correspondence” (T. Ingold, “On Human Correspondence,” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 23[1] [2017a]: 9–27). By doing so, I contend that the human body enters a different ontological category, which I describe using the neologism “humAIn.” I take inspiration from philosopher and physicist Karen Barad, and using her approach to causality and agency, contend that the ontological gap between human and AI is collapsed during “intra-actions.” Thus, the blood-filled veins of the human body and the blinking light of the metallic body coordinate and operate in unison—they are in sync. To explore the transient state humans enter while syncing with AIs, I outline ethnographic research carried out with the “chatterbot” hosted in my smartphone. While syncing with the device, I consider collaborative learning, a modality that attends to the role of education in wider society, and think through the repercussions of syncing for human–AI civic life. I argue that humAIn entities generate a valuable quasi-synthetic resource—proto-data—and these are the new coal beds of generations X, Y, and Z.

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