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 51 - 60 of 68

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tom-carpal-nicholson

I think the author here is exaggerating. I don't agree with her that humans and what she calls "machine human" could not live peacefully. She can't get the fact that those she called "machine humans" are still human. They are still people who have emotions. They maybe addicted and dependent on the convenience of our new technologies, we can't deny that human touch and real things gives us incomparable emotions. carpal tunnel exercises

tom-carpal-nicholson

I think the author here is exaggerating. I don't agree with her that humans and what she calls "machine human" could not live peacefully. She can't get the fact that those she called "machine humans" are still human. They are still people who have emotions. They maybe addicted and dependent on the convenience of our new technologies, we can't deny that human touch and real things gives us incomparable emotions. carpal tunnel exercises

Gorgiamus Nunc

If the man with a hammer sees only nails, the man without one sees only insurmountable problems.

Gorgiamus Nunc

If the man with a hammer sees only nails, the man without one sees only insurmountable problems.

Pippy

I think Micah makes a very valid point. She is introspecting on the fast pace of change in our everyday world. We need more writers like her and articles like this that take a very serious look at the technologies most people embrace without second thought. After all, lemmings couldn't follow each other off the cliff fast enough.

Pippy

I think Micah makes a very valid point. She is introspecting on the fast pace of change in our everyday world. We need more writers like her and articles like this that take a very serious look at the technologies most people embrace without second thought. After all, lemmings couldn't follow each other off the cliff fast enough.

netzirk

And yet we're all reading this article on our laptops while simultaneously watching boob tube and listening to our iPhone's notifications of email and texts. It's slightly ironic that the article was published on the online magazine version. Technology is a beautiful and eye opening tool that I believe has created the ability for people to become more open minded and informed of the world today. Instead of placing blame on the electronics, one should turn to the people who refuse to acknowledge its presence. It's much like the rest of America and their lack of understanding presence. This article would be like stating due to American's over consumption and lack of appreciation of food we should all not eat. It's more about learning to take pleasure and give thanks in enjoying what we do have.

netzirk

And yet we're all reading this article on our laptops while simultaneously watching boob tube and listening to our iPhone's notifications of email and texts. It's slightly ironic that the article was published on the online magazine version. Technology is a beautiful and eye opening tool that I believe has created the ability for people to become more open minded and informed of the world today. Instead of placing blame on the electronics, one should turn to the people who refuse to acknowledge its presence. It's much like the rest of America and their lack of understanding presence. This article would be like stating due to American's over consumption and lack of appreciation of food we should all not eat. It's more about learning to take pleasure and give thanks in enjoying what we do have.

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