“Cyborg” is a child of the space age that almost immediately fled the nest. It found a home in the popular and critical imagination, where it’s flourished for the past 50 years. Hybrid creatures of technology, biology, and culture, cyborgs find purchase in our fantasies, our nightmares, and our purchase orders.
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Whatever I can tell you about the extraordinariness of the cyborg might be a bit mooted by the strangeness of our present moment.
48. Quinn Norton, who once gave herself a sixth sense, offers a wide-gazing analysis of the place of cyborgs in a very, very weird half-century.
It seems like the discussion of cyborgs in the time since 1960, echoing the discussion of robotics, bounced between news of DARPA and DARPA-like Sci-fi projects none of us will ever really see and Critiques on how We’d All Been Cyborgs, Really, Since We First Picked Up Sticks. I want a middle ground. I want to say there are inflection points where the scale of things changes the nature of what they do.
50 years of cyborgs: I have not the words. | Quinn Said
If you want a society more frank about its integral reliance on technology, steampunk outfits are a far more affecting means to argue for your technophilic future than, say, a fake bluetooth headset.
46. Rob Holmes and I worked together on this piece exploring the ethical implications of being able to adapt yourself to a changing environment rather than having to grapple with the changes themselves.
As we are learning to our growing horror, changing the environment is an activity that becomes extremely perilous at scale. In light of this, the cyborgian program of self-adaptation begins to look mighty virtuous.
Wearable Ethics | Quiet Babylon
For the next sixth months, visitors to the gloriously named Maison d’Ailleurs in Switzerland have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be given a deep-tissue massage by a prototype double cyborg.
45. Nicola Twilley examines an art installation that plays with the feedback mechanisms of our enteric system, the body’s “second brain”.
Gut Control | Edible Geography
44. This is the taxidermied body of Miss Able, one of the first two monkeys to successfully return to Earth after being launched into space. She died on June 1st 1959, four days after her trip.
The cause of death was a bad a reaction to anaesthetic, which she was under for surgery to remove an infected electrode. Like most of the monkeys that NASA launched into space, she had implants that allowed scientists on the ground to measure her vital signs.
While Kline and Clynes were envisioning technologically enhanced spacefaring humans, NASA was launching monkey cyborgs into space, to learn what would happen.
It didn’t go well for the monkeys. Most subjects of the program died during or just after flight. Exceptionally, Miss Able’s co-passenger, Miss Baker, survived until 1984.
Able (by Dan Coulter)
No atmosphere in space? One solution: Don’t breathe!
42. Arikia Millikan, community manager of Haiti Rewired and research assistant to Nate Silver already spends most of her life online. She’s ready for the next step.
Hal: Now you Google things on your computer — of course. And you Google things on your phone. That’s the next stage. And I believe — people may laugh — but I think there will be an implant. So you’ll have it there, and I won’t say it’s necessarily Google, I’ll say the Web, it will access the Web of information.
Arikia: Sign me up when that happens.
Hal: You want your implant?
Arikia: I want it now
I Am Cyborg and I Want My Google Implant Already - Arikia Millikan - Technology - The Atlantic
We don’t know what a cyborg is because there is no such thing as a cyborg.