Re: Any cyborgs out there?

From: Helen Fowle (
Date: Tue Jul 10 2001 - 09:37:17 MDT

Hi Mike and Hal

Thanks for replying to the e-mail I sent out. I've been tracking the conversation that you've been having in regards to my research. It's been entertaining!

Both of you have made some great points, particularly you Mike, your points about semantics and the negative stigmatisation of the word cyborg is what makes my research so interesting.

I'd be grateful for any more comments that either of you have regarding the following questions. If anybody else on the list would also like to comment I'd be gratefull. This is all really useful for my work.

1) Do you know of anyone who calls themselves cyborg/transhuman/posthuman. Do you know why?

2) Do you think that how we see technology and machine-human interaction influences our response or attitide to technological modifications/alterations.

3) Why do you think people who call themselves cyborgs/posthuman/transhuman are stigmatised by certain groups/people?

4) Why do you think people might want to refer to themsleves in this way? Yes Hal, my research is mostly about self-definition!

5)What is it about technology, the future etc  that excites you?

6) Do you think that future technological modficiations to the body may mean an end/beginning to humanity as we know it?

Look forward to hearing your comments


>From: Mike Lorrey
>Subject: Re: Any cyborgs out there?
>Date: Fri, 06 Jul 2001 16:04:18 -0400
>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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