[My first blog post for CCR 733]
Digital humanities, and a good portion of academia at large, is a bit like RoboCop in RoboCop 3. For those unfamiliar with the brilliantly corny 90s flick, the plot is essentially this: large, militarized corporation is trying to evict people for an international business deal. To get RoboCop on their side, the company tries to tune down his human elements and make him more susceptible to programmed orders. Of course, this doesn’t work, and RoboCop gets involved with the rebels, later joined by police and blue collar Detroit citizens, to fight the corporate army.
“Humanity,” in the movie, seems at odds with programming. Or more particularly, humanity lets RoboCop morally settle his conflicting programming when law enforcement is no longer on the side of the people. RoboCop, unlike the fully robotic assassin he fights in the film, is human. And through that humanity, he can behave with compassion, violating immoral orders.
I think a similar fear is lurking in academia, especially in the humanities, that emotions and all the human elements that speak to our “human condition” are getting vacuumed out by technology and neoliberal policy.