Blackspot

Cyborgs Among Us

"The human and the machine-human, cannot peacefully co-exist."

With Bluetooth headsets attached, iPods blocking out the world and tiny netbooks stashed near to hand — some of us are choosing to augment our bodies with wearable computers, becoming other-than-human. These technologies are touted as beneficial (or at least benign) and promise to expand the powers of our bodies and allow us to surpass the physical limitations of being organic. Now people can gossip on the phone without using their hands, distract themselves with ear shattering music while in a silent library and share pictures of being on a beach while on the beach. No longer only human, the cyborgs among us have hooked up their nervous systems to machines, unknowingly laying the groundwork for a coming clash of civilizations.

If we take only one lesson from the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, it should be that technology is not a tool but a way of revealing the world. Heidegger believed that the danger of technology was not in its uses but instead in its ability to create a frame through which the world appears flattened, altering the way we know and think. In other words, if the only technology you have is a hammer then you will only see nails. That is why, watching cyborgs in the park, eyes glued to mini-screens as they text and walk, earbuds plugged in, I wonder whether the pixilated world they are experiencing is not radically antagonistic to the one I inhabit.

As increasing numbers of humans choose to supplement themselves with machines, it is possible that the primary clash of civilizations in the years to come will not be between East and West, but between Human and Cyborg. Those who have become addicted to the constant buzz of being connected will always face opponents who still believe that the world experienced through a screen is in some way deficient; lacking in the sublime splendor of undesigned reality.

These two perspectives, the human and the machine-human, cannot peacefully co-exist for long because the frame through which the cyborg sees the world is one in which the mystery of existence has been programatically obscured. Cyborgs are like the novice gardener who rips up seldom blooming flowers thinking them to be merely weeds: unable to value the richness of a technologically minimal world, machine augmented humans unconsciously trample what they cannot appreciate.

The challenge is how to embrace being fully-human not out of a nostalgic desire to go backward but instead a fervent will to move forward – to embrace again the dream of a enlightened humanity who reaches toward wisdom and spiritual fulfillment not through repeated consumption of silicon chips but instead through simple, meditative living.

Micah White is a Contributing Editor at Adbusters and an independent activist. He is writing a book on the future of activism. www.micahmwhite.com or micah (at) adbusters.org

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68 comments on the article “Cyborgs Among Us”

Displaying 1 - 10 of 68

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Anonymous

woof. i would place myself more in the human category as opposed to the machine-human. i would also assume this is where you would place yourself. i would not, as you so self-lovingly do, attempt to argue that my view of the world is somehow superior to those who feel the need to have something electronic abuzz at all hours. i don't think these view points are as black as white as you portray them, nor are they set to clash in some painful or violent way. you sound so painfully self-righteous and pretentious, but what other voice could get space in adbusters?

Anonymous

woof. i would place myself more in the human category as opposed to the machine-human. i would also assume this is where you would place yourself. i would not, as you so self-lovingly do, attempt to argue that my view of the world is somehow superior to those who feel the need to have something electronic abuzz at all hours. i don't think these view points are as black as white as you portray them, nor are they set to clash in some painful or violent way. you sound so painfully self-righteous and pretentious, but what other voice could get space in adbusters?

Anonymous

With everything in life things need to be done in moderation. I agree that as technology advances we have become a victim to the same of a cyborg existence but at the same time we are still somewhat concious of our on actions. Instead of looking a technology as the "blame" of our society pitfulls lets look at ourselves as the true machines. Just like we can be program we can be de-programed

Anonymous

With everything in life things need to be done in moderation. I agree that as technology advances we have become a victim to the same of a cyborg existence but at the same time we are still somewhat concious of our on actions. Instead of looking a technology as the "blame" of our society pitfulls lets look at ourselves as the true machines. Just like we can be program we can be de-programed

Anonymous

an article on the internet is a pretty tech-heavy frame... i worry that i cannot take the "I" in this article seriously as it clearly exists in a shaded gray area (despite the b/w set up by the article). either dropout and join a anarchro-collecti-farm or pick a battle in which you are actually on one of the sides? CYBORG is an awesome concept to unpack though... just sayin. note- the captcha words were: Suite Magistrates (do you folks provide vocab and puns for your captchamachines?!)

Anonymous

an article on the internet is a pretty tech-heavy frame... i worry that i cannot take the "I" in this article seriously as it clearly exists in a shaded gray area (despite the b/w set up by the article). either dropout and join a anarchro-collecti-farm or pick a battle in which you are actually on one of the sides? CYBORG is an awesome concept to unpack though... just sayin. note- the captcha words were: Suite Magistrates (do you folks provide vocab and puns for your captchamachines?!)

Anonymous

While I don't have a bluetooth headset or use an iPod device/functionality I do use my iPhone quite a bit. Do I really need to waste my time reading this while I am at home or can I give it the 2 second skim it deserved while I am headed off to something else? You can live in the past with your landline and desktop while the rest of the world gets shit done better and easier to make room for the things in life that matter more.

Anonymous

While I don't have a bluetooth headset or use an iPod device/functionality I do use my iPhone quite a bit. Do I really need to waste my time reading this while I am at home or can I give it the 2 second skim it deserved while I am headed off to something else? You can live in the past with your landline and desktop while the rest of the world gets shit done better and easier to make room for the things in life that matter more.

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