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Natural-Born Cyborgs

  1. Jul 12, 2004 #1
    What comes to mind when you hear the word "Cyborg"? Is it an organic being with cybernetic technologies surgically added to it? Such a thing would surely meet the criterion of being both "cyb(ernetic)" and "org(anic)". However, there is another, even more interesting, way in which humans not only will become cyborgs, but already are. Indeed, it is an intrinsic part of our nature (as humans) to do this...we are natural-born cyborgs.

    Instead of surgical enhancements, however, Natural-Born Cyborgs (by Andy Clark), deals with a much deeper relationship that we can have with non-organic extensions: namely: extensions of our mind beyond the lump of fat in our skulls.

    In this excellent, layman-oriented, book, Clark looks both at ways in which we are already cyborgs (in this new, deeper, sense), and at the ways in which we will become more so, as our cultures and technologies evolve.

    To give a taste of just how rich a relationship we have already begun to have, let's look at an example of a mental process. Let's say that I ask you "Do you know the year that Man first landed on the moon?". You would probably say "Yes, 1969". This doesn't mean that you were consciously thinking about the lunar landing at the time of being asked. You, most likely, were not constantly visualizing the year "1969". Yet, when I asked you if you knew, you did not hesitate to say "yes", because you could quickly retrieve it from your memory. This is how our brains naturally work (a very economical strategy). Well, now let's say that I had not asked you about landing on the moon, but instead asked "Do you know what time it is?". You would probably say "Yes" and then quick-check your wristwatch, and say "11:50" (or whatever the time actually was). You didn't say "No, but I can check", you treated the watch as though it were just another ready-at-hand part of your mind.

    This may seem like somewhat irrelevant thing, but Clark gives many more compelling examples, as well as predictions of how our minds can continue to become more and more "cyborg" as culture and what he calls "human-oriented" technology evolve.

    A very good read for anyone interested in the mind; written with clarity, intelligence, and humor. I highly recommend it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 29, 2004 #2
    Cyborg Manifesto by Donna Haraway.

    (It seemed like a relevant link... Even though the text is pretty incoherent.)
  4. Aug 4, 2004 #3
    This reminds me of something that I noticed about myself (and other people).

    Let's say I was waiting for the time to be 2:00 PM. As the the time draws near, I would look at my watch from time to time to see if it is 2:00 PM.

    After I look at my watch, I don't know what time it is, I only recognized that it was not 2:00 PM.

    If someones sees me look at my watch and asks me what time it is, I have to look at my watch again because I don't know the answer. (I guess if they asked me if it was 2:00 PM yet, I would have an answer.)

    Does this happen to anyone else? (Maybe it's just me and few other mid-westerners.)
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