On Technology and Cyborgs

Popular culture, particularly in such films as Terminator and RoboCop, normally visions the cyborg as a fusion of human flesh and lightweight steel composite, which is useful as a dramatic device, but limited in terms of the reality of the cyborg body.

The reality of the cyborg body is that it emerges during the post-industrial shift from a metallurgic society to a semiurgic society. In other words, the cyborg lives in a society of information, of pattern, of code.

Thus, the "machine" half of the cyborg is also likely to be one of code: recombinant DNA sequences, organic chemistry chains, electrical positives and negatives, digital zeroes and ones, disciplinary technologies, and collective consciousness will all be leveraged in the realization of a cyborg body. This is not to suggest that the metallurgic will cease to be part of such a body, but rather that it will assume a subservient or relegated role.

Another important consideration is that (at this time) the "machine" half of the cyborg body is not fixed. We slip on and off our protective equipment, we start and stop taking synthetic drugs, we jack into and out of the matrix. Thus, above all, the cyborg is a discursive formation, a way of describing the tension between humans and their technologies — and lest we forget, technologies have pervaded our lives since the advent of fire.

Cyborgism, then, may best be described as an increasing tendency to integrate with our technologies at the very level of the human body. It is a vector that suggests a new way of understanding the human being.


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