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Cyborgs, animals, distinction

fawei's picture

 It’s odd how our relationship with technology and becoming cyborgs with technology based/affected ‘scaffolding’ is something Clark describes as being exclusive to the human mind, or something that defines us. Being ‘primed to seek’ helpful technology seems a lot like a survival instinct, but strangely Clark speaks against evolutionary psychology. A lot of the intuitive integration of technology even simple ones such the multiplication tables he talks about on page 6, are things that we get familiar with not because we naturally absorb them, but because we feel they will benefit us (or there’s punishment for not memorizing them.)

Even pieces of technology that just seem like convenience (phones, computers) also appeal to us for their ability to improve/lengthen our state of living. Prolonged use of technology or living in a technological environment might not make us biologically dependant on them like animals with food, but there is a similar emotional response when we lose or are unable to have them (like what Clark feels when he loses his computer.) Harraway has a different approach and instead says that being a cyborg is where the human-animal line is ‘transgressed,’ I think this a bit more appropriate to say since the greater inclusion of technology in human life is adding something else we now chase after or integrate with for survival/enjoyment.

I don’t have much to say against all the emphasis on how humans are constructed by their environment and how there are no definite/totally beneficial taxonomies. Clark says something I liked which was that there are ‘distinctions’ which are ‘by no means sharp and “all-or-nothing”.’ So categories seem to exist because there are different characteristics visible (mechanical/human, mind/body) but they are capable of mixing. Something that always bothers me about talking about leaky distinctions, though, is to what degree the two distinctions mix. It’s easy to say that everyone’s a mixture of things, but they probably aren’t all the same mixture. If there are different degrees of mixture, though then maybe there can exist a ‘pure’ human or machine.


Of course, trying to represent these things graphically might too objective... but then how effective is using words like these essays do?



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