In a “postdigital” era in which the Internet shapes much of our interaction with others, German media writer Pschera argues that animals can help us see the digital revolution in a new light—and situate ourselves within it more comfortably.
Humans and animals have a richly symbiotic but complicated relationship that has been the focus of countless explorations, from Aristotle to Descartes to Derrida. In his first book translated into English, Pschera, who writes for German radio and Cicero magazine, draws on these thinkers, among many others, in his bold and fascinating argument that the “Animal Internet”—the “shared, intelligent sensory network that has developed over the course of evolution, and that animals are now using to communicate with humans”—will prompt a paradigm shift in the human understanding of nature. Our ability to tag and track wild animals, for example, may revolutionize our understanding of not just migration patterns, but of countless other mechanisms of the natural world. Much of the animal planet remains mysterious, but new monitoring devices have begun to reveal the vast potential for such “big animal data” in helping both animals (by identifying impediments to safe migration) and humans (tracking animal movements to predict imminent earthquakes). Yet technology can also trouble animal-human ethics by subjugating animals, as history has repeatedly demonstrated. Pschera discusses these concepts in clear, cogent prose informed by histories of science and philosophy. Moreover, he puts forth an alternative future in which animals recover their voices and rights. At its core, the book is optimistic and hopeful, proposing that the Internet—and other digital technology—offers an opportunity to rediscover our animals as more than abstracted images but as autonomous individuals with inherent value.
A truly thought-provoking book for animal lovers and technology enthusiasts alike.