31 December 2020



“Cyborgs” topic by Ignacio


Essay by Lawrence


This topic is well documented and the entry in Wikipedia covers the subject satisfactorily. It is also a subject that is well and truly mixed up with science fiction, which is not always good news.


It seems that what qualifies as a cyborg is that the biological human has physical technologies attached to the person to aid the body function. Furthermore, the artificial parts are there to restore human abilities or to enhance such abilities. Under this definition anyone wearing false teeth, prosthetic devices, pacemakers and so on are cybogs. Unfortunately, we just don`t feel comfortable to call our partner or grandparents cyborgs just because they have a crown or a false tooth implant. And even more this is hardly the stuff of applied philosophy.


In a way restorative cyborg implants are also enhancement implants for humans. Hitting hard the coffee table with a prosthetic leg is not the same as hitting the table with one’s shin. In away being a cyborg is cheating evolution. There is no question that restorative implants are a feat of human ingenuity working for the benefit and comfort of the people in need.


One aspect of restorative implants is that there seems to be a biological-physical connection: the pacemaker is inside the body. However, with enhancing devises it is not necessary for the machinery to be an integral part of the biological being, it’s enough for the two to be “fitted” to each other to perform a task. Heavy lifting machinery such as bulldozers and forklift trucks can easily qualify as temporary cyborg devices if we think about them as such. Of course, the immediate reaction is to think of these devices as tools which strictly speaking is what they are.


In my opinion this is where reality starts encroaching onto science fiction. Replacing a biological part with a mechanical artificial part is certainly a cyborg. Unfortunately this is not the stuff of comic heroes or propaganda illusion to entertain the population. Helping people to regain their faculties and independence has never been the stuff of political propaganda. But attaching a device to one’s arm and lift the family car is the stuff of propaganda.


So is RoboCop (all rights respected) a cyborg? And more importantly is such a biological-physical structure possible? By our definition RoboCop is a cyborg even if it is an extreme case of cyborg. Of course, we mustn’t be influence by the weaponry and gadgets attached to the cyborg. Personally I don’t know whether cyborgs can be fitted with such weaponry today, even enhancement cyborgs. Today the military can achieve many things that a few years ago would have qualified as science fiction anyway.


Moving on from science fiction, let’s move on to present reality: the reality post Covid-19. It seems that the Covid pandemic has challenged the traditional definition of what is a cyborg. So far the curiosity about cyborgs has been the harmonious existence of biology and metallurgy to maintain the function of the biological being. But this sounds very much Iron Age era mentality using Iron Age solutions.


Covid-19 has forcefully brought to our awareness immunological technology in the form of vaccines. Indeed, vaccines have been around for decades, but all of a sudden they’ve assumed the leading role in our life. In effect our immune system is our RoboCop weaponized technology that can fight real aliens in our bodies. Except, that is, vaccines are biological entities that have been artificially manipulated to help our immune system cope with invading viruses. Vaccines not only restore the functions of a compromised immune system, but they also enhance our ability to fight really harmful “bichos”.


Today it is accepted that under our definition of cyborg biological materials do qualify as cyborg implants: for example artificial skin. Let’s be clear about one thing, without a functioning vaccine Covid-19 will create a lot of harm to people in the next few years. We might even have to invent miniature breathing devices to help those who have been compromised by the virus. But Covid-19 is not the only culprit here, even though it is the cross hairs of science today.  


In reality, therefore, and for practical purposes, are we already cyborgs?


Best Lawrence


telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813

Email: philomadrid@gmail.com



No comments: