The cyborg manifesto
March 20, 2001 4:07 PM   Subscribe

The cyborg manifesto scares me. I first read it in this month's adbusters magazine, then online. It paints a provocative picture of our future. Will we look back on this as the just the beginning or is it vapor-futurism?
flash 4 required
posted by will (23 comments total)
The sooner the Singularity comes, the better. Especially if it means I can control Flash-based scrollbars with my mind instead of painfully slow dragging.
posted by darukaru at 4:16 PM on March 20, 2001

The first step to a cybernetic future is to reject such user-hostile crap as dark grey text on a dark grey background.

The revolution is not going to be synthesized by Macromedia. :P
posted by Foosnark at 4:50 PM on March 20, 2001

Is this a new Cyborg Manifesto? (I can't read it because the furshlugginer site can't tell that I have Flash installed. Dipshits.)
posted by rodii at 5:01 PM on March 20, 2001

For this I needed Flash? Apparently, our future is one filled with boneheads who over-code everything.
posted by MrBaliHai at 5:21 PM on March 20, 2001

Ray Kurzweil has some more to say on this stuff, too.

I'm more frightened by whoever designed that UI...
posted by sauril at 5:36 PM on March 20, 2001

Here is your link in clickable form, sauril. You are banished to the land of unclickable-link-posters! No MeFi for you!
posted by Potsy at 5:40 PM on March 20, 2001

Ahhh!!! First post and I screw it up! oops.
posted by sauril at 5:51 PM on March 20, 2001

Awkward, poorly implemented flash "text" scares me. It paints an irritating picture of our future. Will we look back on this as just the beginning or is it flashturbation?
posted by Tubes at 6:40 PM on March 20, 2001

sauril, it happens to a lot of us, don't worry.

So, now that we've all gotten our bitching about the design out of the way, anyone have anything to say about the content?
posted by rodii at 6:40 PM on March 20, 2001

[initiating cyborg human-computer interface]

Nope, nothing to say.
posted by dfowler at 8:24 PM on March 20, 2001

hey rodii,

I read what I could bear then scanned the rest of the "manifesto". There was NO mention of the writings of Donna Harraway anywhere. The content yu could say was similar to Harraway, but much more scifi and shockvaluesque.

posted by darkpony at 8:32 PM on March 20, 2001

I particularly love the creepy psuedo-fascist language sprinkled throughout the thing...stating that those who resist these ideas will end up "on the wrong side of history".

I also thought the Donna Harraway connection was interesting, since they're covering the same territory as (and the title of..) her "Cyborg Manifesto" from 1991.

posted by Joe Eastham at 9:23 PM on March 20, 2001

Actually, Donna Haraway's Cyborg Manifesto dates from 1985. Ages ago, in Internet time.
posted by Rebis at 11:58 PM on March 20, 2001

It just seems to me that as soon as I read several of Iain M. Banks' Culture novels I started to think a bit like this myself. And then I discovered this "movement" called Transhumanism. It seems a bit cultish at first, but it's really quite interesting, and for some people, might even be rather inspiring. And now, only a few weeks later, I keep coming across things that only seem to reinforce this notion of becoming "post-human." I, for one, am not afraid. I'm sure it's been done many times before by all the other species that filled the universe before us.
posted by dopamine at 12:09 AM on March 21, 2001

I'm surprised that you (dopamine) take the Iain M. Banks novels to endorse transhumanism. Banks' work is profoundly humanistic. Yes, his universe includes AIs and big ships with big brains, but the people are roughly like you and me. They fall in love, they fall out of love, they enjoy a lot of sex (involving real bodies, like yours and mine) and the emotions, hopes, dreams, joys and pains are completely human. There's no "augmentation" making a new "species" in Banks' universe.

That's probably why I like them so much. Along with Ken Macleod's work, which expressly covers transhumanist issues.
posted by grestall at 1:10 AM on March 21, 2001

I oppose the Cyborg Manifesto because of the *#@$@% Flash interface.

Who are they kidding? A true Cyborg wouldn't mess around with a custom-built Flash interface, ferpetesake.
posted by monkey-mind at 5:38 AM on March 21, 2001

Jaron Lanier debunked this meme, to my mind (his article starts at the bottom and continues via a link at the very bottom).
posted by Sean Meade at 8:06 AM on March 21, 2001

Oh, what a paradise! Permanently alive, permanently attending to tasks, having repeated fruitless sex fetishized with manifestations of anger and wrath with illusions manufactured by some company (for a price I'm sure!). "Feeling" with sensors, probably with the only purpose of regulating environments (according to code) and preventing damage. I'm sure mission control would send constant messages to keep down rumors of "A Crash". Not that this isn't the way things are going, I'd say it is hardly desirable.

Seems like a manifesto for a fool's dream of ego-permanence disguised as a pinnacle transformation. Go beyond suffering my ass! Enriched by pharmacology, if you behave! As if I would transfer my consciousness to some fucking death sucker machine!

Is this manifesto satire?
posted by mblandi at 8:19 AM on March 21, 2001 [1 favorite]

Hey, ease up, everyone. Even computer-science undergrads need a creative outlet.
posted by Skot at 8:27 AM on March 21, 2001

(To grestall) What I've gathered is that the "humans" in Banks' universe have been augmented long, long ago, as their physiology has been exstensibly modified (glands and whatnot). I agree, though, his stuff is very humanistic, but it also paints a picture of a universe in which there are virtually no consequences. Morality is something that can be user-defined.

But in reference to my original post -- I was just refering to how the advancement of the Culture kind of inspired me to think that perhaps one day our species could advance to such a level, and that when I began to think about our own advancements, I felt that we were living in an age in which all the cool stuff (like in the Cyborg Manifesto) was really on the verge of happening.

Never heard of Ken Macleod -- will have to check him out!
posted by dopamine at 10:58 AM on March 21, 2001

I've been working my way (slowly) through this exhaustive discussion of Vinge's Singularity. With a new Kurzweil book on the subject soon to come, expect a great deal more exposure in the popular media, with plenty of hand-wringing & doomsday scenarios to distract everyone from the more reasonable perspective offered by Jaron Lanier. Thanks for that link, Sean.
While I agree that we may well be on the verge of technological advances beyond our ability to comprehend, transhumanism is but one of an infinite number of possibilities lying just beyond the edge of the Singularity.
posted by gimli at 11:11 AM on March 21, 2001

Would someone be so kind as to provide me with the executive summary of the manifesto? 50 words or less, please?

About manifestos in general, though. My impression is that they're usually written by someone who eats, breathes, and dreams an idea for a long time. He usually doesn't get any outside input, so there are no reality checks. And he's so convinced of the rightness of his idea that he ignores contrary evidence. And a lot of the time, they seem to rely heavily on a false assumption.

When I was an undergrad at MIT, I had a roommate who was a math grad student. The math department would occasionally receive proofs that showed a remarkable result but which were deficient. My roommate was sometimes asked to respond to the people who sent them in. I remember one time he told me that one of the proofs demonstrated that pi = 3.125 (which, let's face it, would make calculation a lot easier).

Lately, I've been wondering how far you can take a false assumption. I'm thinking of a theoretical contest where you're allowed one incorrect assumption, and using that, you prove something. I'm sure a skilled mathematician or logician could come up with something even more ridiculous than pi = 3.125. The goal would be to create the most bizarre result using the smallest erroneous assumption. Assuming that 1=2 is too easy.
posted by anapestic at 12:12 PM on March 21, 2001

Jaron Lanier's .5 Manifesto digest:

We can't make software or computers that live up to our cybernetic ideals. Why should we think that more power is going to overcome that inability?

And if that's the case, how can we hope to digitize humanity?

anyone want to add on?
posted by Sean Meade at 7:58 AM on March 23, 2001

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