How many cyborgs do you know?
That’s a question most people would confidently respond to with “None, luckily. We’re humans”. Logically, if we consider the below definition of a cyborg and think about all the technological advancements that have infiltrated our lives at ALL levels, the answer might slightly change. And it better, because only in the US 10% of the population are cyborgs carrying around electronic pacemakers, artificial joints, drug implant systems, implanted corneal lenses, artificial skin, brain-computer interfaces and so on.
A cyborg is an organism “to which exogenous components have been added for the purpose of adapting to new environments” – Amber Case
So what about the rest of the population? We’ve all become reliant on technology in a way or another and we might even say that we have also become symbiotically fused with our technological inventions. Or can you imagine life without them?
What kind of cyborg are you?
At a functional level, two categories have been established: the restorative and the enhancing cyborgization. The first category defines those technologies that help us regain lost or deteriorated functions, while the enhanced cyborg is guided by the principle of optimal performance: maximising output in the information or features we obtain and minimising input, namely the energy expended in the process. Thus, the enhanced cyborg attempts to exceed normal processes or even gain new functions that were not originally present.
So, now, which category do you fall into?
What’s our cyborg life like?
Amber Case, cyborg anthropologist, studies this new type of homo sapiens whose life is permanently connected to high technology devices and gives incredible insights into the symbiotic nature of the relationship between humans and machines in her short, but very impressive TED Talk.
So whenever we interact with computers, smartphones or any other fascinating technological devices, an extention of the mental self is happening and its benefits are great: we’re able to travel faster, our communication transcends time and space limits and most importantly we are now able to carry and control all data in a more efficient way. Imagine this: with no smartphones in your pocket but with access to the same amount of information, you’d probably end up carrying tons of books everywhere you’d go.
Not only we face an enhanced life, but we are also experiencing a new self. Our cyborg self is a second personality that we are now supposed to take care of online. Whether we like it or not, or are aware of it or not, our second selves are interacting with each other online and in the end it’s a digital presentation of ourselves that’s more or less the equivalent of our analog personalities.
So where is this all going? Amber Case has the answers. Enjoy her talk and tell us about your own cyborg self.