“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
The word cyborg makes for a great example of rapid semantic drift; in the fifty years since it was coined, its definition has both broadened and narrowed, depending on who is using it, and to what ends. As an early salvo in the 50 Posts about Cyborgs series (as mentioned a few days ago), Tim Maly takes it back to basics:
I want to present you with a different vision of cyborgs, one that derives in part from the work of feminist theorist Donna Haraway, author of A Cyborg Manifesto.
In it, she argues that we are all and have always been cyborgs, hybrid entities that combine biology, culture, and technology into a single blurry unit. Haraway wants to move away from the essentialist narratives of gender, race, and politics but in doing so, she ends up taking the rest of us along with her.
There has never been a moment when we did not integrate with tools.
(Rather reminiscent of of Timothy Taylor’s theory of the artificial ape, no?)
Our tools define and shape us, they tell us who we are. We use them to extend our literal selves out into the world. When you get into an accident, you say “she hit me” not “her car hit me” and not “her car hit my car”.
We are embraced and enveloped by the technosphere and even if we try to escape and smash the system, we find we are part of it.
50 Posts About Cyborgs is going to be a really interesting collection of work… things will be quiet(ish) here at Futurismic for the next week and a bit, so you might want to head on over there to bolster your daily diet of geeky brainfoods.
But why are things going to be quiet(ish) here? Fear not! The next post will explain it all… 🙂