Re: Any cyborgs out there?

From: Mike Lorrey (
Date: Fri Jul 06 2001 - 14:04:18 MDT

Helen Fowle wrote:
> Hi everybody,
> My name's Helen, and I've just joined the extropy list.
> I'd like to ask a favour: I'm currently in the process of looking for
> informants to help me in my MA dissertation. I'm studying Sociology at
> the
> University of Reading in England, and would really like to speak to
> people
> who see themselves, or would refer to themselves as cyborgs.

While some may take peruile pleasure at seeing themselves as such,
especially if they are of a socialist or pro-borg bent, some of us do
not. Like any cutting edge movement, you will have a panoply of
sentiment along one or more axes of opinion about how things should be
done. One of which is the collectivist versus the individualist axis.
The collectivists, obviously, think ideas like Star Trek's 'Borg' and
other collectivist notions, like Heinlein's Lotus Eaters as the cat's
pajamas of future development of our species. The individualists, like
myself, obviously do not, and see self modification and augmentation
strictly along individualist and/or consensually associative lines.

The term 'cyborg' has gained significant negative connotations in the
public gestalt, generally connoting a state of being less than human
rather than more than human. Any time a cyborg is presented as having
some more than human ability (generally strength, vision, etc) they are
also presented has having lost some other greater degree of humanity,
generally in areas of empathy, emotion, compassion, etc. that is seen as
not worth the trade-off. This arises from the romantic-primitivist
idealization of the human form as a peak of perfection in evolution,
while presenting technology and the logical mind as a fatal flaw within
the primitive human.

A large number of us who are extropians tend toward the individualist
end of the spectrum to one degree or another, while others who hang out
on this list may have pro-borg sympathies and do not consider themselves
extropian. None of us are posthuman, anyone who tells you otherwise is a
charlatan who is trying to co-opt terms. Posthumanity will not exist
until AI and mind uploading are possible. Transhumans will exist during
the period of transition. We are 'transhumanists' or 'posthumanists'
because we advocate that future. That future has not arrived yet. It is

You could call individuals with augmentations like limb prosthetics,
artificial eyes and ears as transhumans, but very early ones, as you
would consider homo erectus to be 'human'. The true 'trans' won't occur
until those prosthetics enable people to exceed normal human
performance. What is interesting are a few people who are either born or
are injured without use of a limb that are intentionally having the
healthy but unresponsive limbs amputated in order to use functional
prosethetics instead. The piece on television the other night about
these technologies is rather interesting. One amputee expects better
than human performance soon, with legs that resemble the digitigrade
limbs of cats rather than human legs. When they exceed human
performance, I expect they will demand that the paralympics and Olympics
be combined, with reactionary luddite groups demanding that any
prosthetics must use the same mechanical techniques as human limbs.

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