Thursday, June 23, 2005

We are all cyborgs now?

Donna J. Haraway, professor of science studies, women's studies, and the history of consciousness (yeah, I know) at the University of California, Santa Cruz wrote an essay in 1985 titled "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century." In that essay, she made the following provocative and frequenltly quoted statement:

"We are all cyborgs now"

I read this and her essay around the time of its publication while I was a history of science student at Berkeley. The essay has been republished in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge, 1991).

I am reminded of Haraway's remark about us all being cyborgs now because in the June 20 issue of The New York Times, I read this:

"For people who see Cameron Clapp for the first time, he is an object of wonderment: a young man walking and talking tall on shiny robotic legs."

If you have registration to the Times (and it's free), then take a look at the photos and multimedia images to see the future. Or go directly to Cameron Clapp's own website to see what this Cyborg has to say for himself.

Or check out what 'concept crunchers' like me think. Here's what one expert, Sherry Turkle, the director of the Initiative on Technology and Self at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says about our emerging cyborg consciousness:

"There is a kind of cyborg consciousness, a fluidity at the boundaries of what is flesh and what is machine, that has happened behind our backs. . . . The notion that your leg is a machine part and it is exposed, that it is an enhancement, is becoming comfortable in the sense that it can be made a part of you."

She's referring to people like Cameron Clapp, with his "shiny robotic legs," but she could easily be referring to a wide range of cyborgian sorts, from the man Michael Chorost with a computer in his brain to any one of us who just happens to wear contact lenses.

There are a lot of us cyborgs lumbering around out there, so watch out.


At 8:59 PM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

You sound dangerously close to jumping into the mind-body mêlée.


At 5:29 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sorry, but I'd get beat up -- by bodies and the minds!


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