50 Posts About Cyborgs
September 6, 2010 3:08 PM   Subscribe

50 Posts About Cyborgs. "September 2010 is the 50th Anniversary of the coining of the term 'cyborg'. Over a month, this site will update 50 times with links to material — most of it new — celebrating 50 years of one of the 20th Century's more enduring concepts. Then it'll go dark." [Via]
posted by homunculus (15 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
What’s a Cyborg?
posted by homunculus at 3:10 PM on September 6, 2010

I was going to mention Haraway's "Cyborg Manifesto," (here) but then I saw it was mentioned in your first comment. Very cool stuff. Will be keeping an eye on this.
posted by exlotuseater at 3:17 PM on September 6, 2010

Then it'll go dark.

Bionic rejection?
posted by Smart Dalek at 3:31 PM on September 6, 2010

Brainiac and terminator, the two sexiest killing machines ever created. Suck it, vampires.
posted by shinybaum at 3:33 PM on September 6, 2010

An article about Nadya Vessey, who was mentioned in the link.
posted by idiopath at 3:35 PM on September 6, 2010


/bursts out of clingfiln cocoon pod to read blog.

Ooh, RIFTs. And a thing about cooking and caveman stomachs. I think I am going to like this.
posted by Artw at 4:51 PM on September 6, 2010

It's interesting to me the way the term "Cyborg" has superceeded it's root Cybernetics, the study of control and regulatory systems. The Clynes and Kline paper linked to by the blog is discussing an artificial homeostatic system, integrated with a human to allow one to live in space. The cyber in cyborg comes from the fact that it's a control system that's been implanted. Wheras today Cybernetics is used to mean "cyborg bits", in the vernacular unless you're talking to someone who'se studied it, or is a stickler for language.

Which I suppose is why the linked article "What's A Cyborg" annoys me, because it's only real conclusion is "All humans are cyborgs and they've always been cyborgs", and it's definition of a cyborg seems to be basically "one that integrates technology with their life to provide additional capabilities". Which is a not just a massive widening of the scope of the term, but also spectacularly useless way of defining it. I can make an argument that crows, beavers and some species of termite are cyborgs under that definition.

The author also has what I consider to be deeply flawed reasoning about implants. First in the point of the cyborg as a concept is that by directly integrating the body with machinery you provide capabilities that you can't get, or can't get as efficiently with technology that's controlled and mediated through your existing body, and more specifically, your conscious mind. Second we have plenty of examples (and more are being continually developed) of such implantable technology. Cochlear implants, pacemakers, ventricular assist devices, various artificial eyes, would either not work, or not work nearly as well if they were an external device.

Ah well, it's still a fertile concept in research and fiction, no matter how abused the terminology gets.
posted by Grimgrin at 5:23 PM on September 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

Craig Ferguson's tribute to Cyborgs, cleverly disguised as his late late show "check the tweets" jingles.
posted by cavalier at 5:38 PM on September 6, 2010

homunculus, this pic from your link got me thinking. I'm sure I'd seen a few kids do something very similar on Youtube.

I couldn't find it [one of the kids was using a swimming noodle which was a humorous touch], but I found even more similar ones. What is it with this smashing-technology-in-the-field meme? Then I saw an obtuse comment and Googled that word and discovered it was a scene from a movie.

You've made my morning, a] because I learnt something, b] looks like I've got a [cult?] movie I need to check out ASAP and c] my accidentally awesome detective work has inflated my own ego for the next few hours.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:49 PM on September 6, 2010

Grimgrin: the funny thing about "cybernetic organism" to me is that cybernetics has always been applicable to biology unaugmented by technology (and was applied, early on, in a quite rigorous manner - Maturana and Varela's cybernetic definition of life as that which can both sustain and reproduce itself comes to mind). Communication, regulation, and stabilization via feedback occur through the various organ systems of the body, even in the absence of drugs, nanobots, or implants (and the very usage of terms like "nervous system" "circulatory system" etc. actually comes from cybernetics, as does the term "ecosystem", and arguably, the very field of ecology IIRC).
posted by idiopath at 6:07 PM on September 6, 2010

I'm a cyborg. I was thinking about this the other day. I have a CPAP machine. It regulates my breathing. It sense when I stop breathing in my sleep (my signal to it) and it sends a signal (increased air pressure) to me.

If even *that* doesn't work, then it will beep to send a signal to a different part of my brain (the ear/listener part, as opposed to the lung-blocked-breather-part). that is to say, if it receives a signal from me , that I am not breathing, then it will alter its own response mechanism to the beep, and thus my own receptors (ear) and that wakes me up, which gets me breathing proper again.

It's very interesting.

Also, via The Onion (Madison REPRAZENT!):

Cool cybergranny needs machines to help her live

Which, when you think about it, is pretty much accurate in the sense of cyborg...
posted by symbioid at 8:49 PM on September 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by schmod at 9:45 PM on September 6, 2010

idiopath: Yes, but if you say "Artificial Cyborg" people will look at you funny.

That said I really like the idea of replacing the bodies natural control mechanisms with a different set adapted for life in a different environment. Kind of an anti "Scanners Live in Vain" idea.
posted by Grimgrin at 10:50 PM on September 6, 2010

Talking with Amber Case
posted by homunculus at 12:55 PM on September 22, 2010

I can't help but feel that this post would have had a more enthusiastic reception if it had appeared later in the month - now the site is filling up with stuff and it's great. But I would say that, I'm a participant.
posted by WPW at 7:19 AM on September 27, 2010

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