Humans as Cyborgs
Cyborgs are often misunderstood as mere humans with metallic skin or head-up displays in their visions. However, the true essence of cyborgs lies in embedding tools within oneself, thereby augmenting and influencing personal skills. Surprisingly enough, humans have been unknowingly embracing cyborganization for millennia through basic inventions such as clothing, serving as individual shelters against harsh weather conditions. Let’s delve deeper into understanding the fascinating history and how we are closer to the machine than man.
The term cyborg was coined by Manfred Clynes and Nathan S. Kline in 1960 [ck] to be a portmanteau of cybernetic and organism. Cyborg is not a separate organism or automaton but rather a living organism that has restored function or enhanced abilities due to the integration of some artificial component or technology that relies of feed back.
The idea of a man & machine mixture was not new in 1960 but has been widespread in sci-fi before WW2. As early as 1843, Edgar Allan Poe wrote a short story called "The Man That Was Used Up" which described a man with extensive prostheses.
The common idea of one type of cyborg always revolves around the implementation of foreign technology to restore previously functioning organs or to implement to reach "normal" function like for example prostheses like a prosthetic leg to restore "normal" walking ability and a cardiac pacemaker to enforce consistent cardiac function.
You can also argue along the same lines as the examples above is something like wearable technology like a watch that can improve the ability to tell the time and even more advanced in things like smart watches to enhance multiple functions especially around exercise.
Founded by tech mogul Elon Musk in 2016, Neuralink aims to establish implantable brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). Initially targeting medical applications, such as treating severe neurological disorders, Neuralink ultimately seeks long-term human enhancement possibilities. Despite facing skepticism regarding practical outcomes thus far, Neuralink demonstrates substantial efforts dedicated to pushing the frontiers of human-computer interactions involving intricate neural networks.
While the idea coming from the fictional universe in The Culture of a "neural lace" has grown some fruit to be not much more than a high definition set of electrodes.
While we are yet to see something promising they are still trying which is the main thing here that there is a huge amount of effort to push the boundaries of human-computer interaction to be apart of the most important and complex organ of us humans.
Daily commute, oh no you are running late so you jump into the car and speed out of the driveway nearly missing the rubbish bin on the kerb without looking out the side but off intuition of the cars size, then jump onto the freeway swerving between lanes because this meeting this morning cannot be missed, you can feel the road beneath you and how its moving and how the suspension is swaying with each lane change
This is the car becoming another sense, you can feel how big it is and how it can manoeuvre without thinking too hard. Is this a cybernetic enhancement? Or even a form of embodied vehicular symbiosis?
Similarly, entrusting cognitive tasks to the vast digital landscape and the various smart devices constitutes another aspect of cyborganization; harnessing search engines, GPS navigation, calculators, and countless other software solutions allows us to perform intellectual feats otherwise impossible or incredibly challenging for unassisted minds. Thus, blurring the line between human ingenuity and technological prowess becomes increasingly indistinguishable, leading us toward unprecedented realms where the distinctions separating man and machine cease to exist entirely.
In 2023, artificial intelligence emerges as the talk of the town, spurred by novel applications across industries and fields. Newly devised algorithms facilitate automated processes ranging from generating texts and images to propelling autonomous vehicles [AIIndex]. Although critics question whether contemporary AI truly innovates independently, these developments significantly boost efficiency levels by handling monotonous tasks.
However, AI only matches human capacity when trained adequately based on existing datasets, failing to generate groundbreaking insights beyond predefined parameters. Currently, AGI remains elusive, requiring further breakthroughs enabling adaptability and autonomy surpassing human limitations.
This brings me to this point, transhumanism is the movement to enhance the human condition by developing and making advanced technologies that can enhance longevity and cognition [th]. While this goal of achieving such a feat would in its nature improve the lives of humans do we lose the nature of humans and even push to the point of posthumanism. But this is not the point of this article to speculate on the future. Rather see where we are and see that we have already begun the process to become more than human with the enhancements of our own design.
We have reach the point where the horse and carriage is being phased out by the motor car but for the cognitive and physical tasks, which in my books is not a bad thing to assist humans with repetitive and non-creative tasks to give time for things that can fulfil our lives. We should embrace this but always keep in mind the implications of giving technology power over our lives. Because in some instances what seems helpful can be but also at the same time deceive and manipulate (see social media algorithms which improve and create engagement but also create an incentive for unhealthy use while collecting complex data on the user).
So technology is here to stay and the cyborg has become human.