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A cyborg is a cybernetic organism (i.e. an organism that is a self-regulating integration of artificial and natural systems). The term was coined in 1960 when Manfred Clynes and Nathan Kline used it in an article about the advantages of self-regulating human-machine systems in outer space. D. S. Halacy's Cyborg: Evolution of the Superman in 1965 featured an introduction by Manfred Clynes, who wrote of a "new frontier" that was "not merely space, but more profoundly the relationship between 'inner space' to 'outer space' -a bridge...between mind and matter." The cyborg is often seen today merely as an organism that has enhanced abilities due to technology, but this perhaps oversimplifies the category of feedback.
Fictional cyborgs are portrayed as a synthesis of organic and synthetic parts, and frequently pose the question of difference between human and machine as one concerned with morality, free will, and empathy. Fictional cyborgs may be represented as visibly mechanical (e.g. the Borg in the Star Trek franchise); or as almost indistinguishable from humans (e.g. the Cylons from the re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica). These fictional portrayals often register our society's discomfort with its seemingly increasing reliance upon technology, particularly when used for war, and when used in ways that seem to threaten free will. They also often have abilities, physical or mental, far in advance of their human counterparts (military forms may have inbuilt weapons, amongst other things). Real cyborgs are more frequently people who use cybernetic technology to repair or overcome the physical and mental constraints of their bodies. While cyborgs are commonly thought of as mammals, they can be any kind of organism.
According to some definitions of the term, the metaphysical and physical attachments humanity has with even the most basic technologies have already made them cyborgs. In a typical example, a human fitted with a heart pacemaker or an insulin pump (if the person has diabetes) might be considered a cyborg, since these mechanical parts enhance the body's "natural" mechanisms through synthetic feedback mechanisms. Some theorists cite such modifications as contact lenses, hearing aids, or intraocular lenses as examples of fitting humans with technology to enhance their biological capabilities; however, these modifications are no more cybernetic than would be a pen, a wooden leg, or the spears used by chimps to hunt vertebrates. Cochlear implants that combine mechanical modification with any kind of feedback response are more accurately cyborg enhancements.
The prefix "cyber" is also used to address human-technology mixtures in the abstract. This includes artifacts that may not popularly be considered technology. Pen and paper, for example, as well as speech, language. Augmented with these technologies, and connected in communication with people in other times and places, a person becomes capable of much more than they were before. This is like computers, which gain power by using Internet protocols to connect with other computers. Cybernetic technologies include highways, pipes, electrical wiring, buildings, electrical plants, libraries, and other infrastructure that we hardly notice, but which are critical parts of the cybernetics that we work within.
Bruce Sterling in his universe of Shaper/Mechanist suggested an idea of alternative cyborg called Lobster, which is made not by using internal implants, but by using an external shell (e.g. a Powered Exoskeleton). (Bruce Sterling: Cicada Queen). Unlike human cyborgs that appear human externally while being synthetic internally, a Lobster looks inhuman externally but contains a human internally. The computer game Deus Ex: Invisible War prominently featured three clans of Omar, where "Omar" is a Russian translation of the word "Lobster" (since the clans are of Russian origin in the game). Sterling's distinction between cyborgs and Lobsters may have been a reaction to the Terminator films and their outwardly human, internally mechanical cyborgs dominating popular conception of the term. However, regardless of popular conception, Sterling's Lobsters are well within the technical definition of a cyborg, and so the term has no useful application outside of fiction.
The concept of a man-machine mixture was widespread in science fiction before World War II. In 1908 Jean de la Hire introduced Nyctalope (perhaps the first true superhero was also the first literary cyborg) in the novel L'Homme Qui Peut Vivre Dans L'eau (The Man Who Can Live in Water). Edmond Hamilton presented space explorers with a mixture of organic and machine parts in his novel The Comet Doom in 1928. He later featured the talking, living brain of an old scientist, Simon Wright, floating around in a transparent case, in all the adventures of his famous hero, Captain Future. In the short story "No Woman Born" in 1944, C. L. Moore wrote of Deirdre, a dancer, whose body was burned completely and whose brain was placed in a faceless but beautiful and supple mechanical body.
The term was created by Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline in 1960 to refer to their conception of an enhanced human being who could survive in extraterrestrial environments:
Their concept was the outcome of thinking about the need for an intimate relationship between human and machine as the new frontier of space exploration was beginning to take place. A designer of physiological instrumentation and electronic data-processing systems, Clynes was the chief research scientist in the Dynamic Simulation Laboratory at Rockland State Hospital in New York.
A book titled Cyborg: Digital Destiny and Human Possibility in the Age of the Wearable computer was published by Doubleday in 2001. Some of the ideas in the book were incorporated into the 35mm motion picture film Cyberman.
Generally, the term "cyborg" is used to refer to a man or woman with bionic, or robotic, implants.
Today, the C-LEG system is used to replace human legs that were amputated because of injury or illness. The use of sensors in the artificial leg aids in walking significantly. These are the first real steps towards the next generation of cyborgs.
Additionally cochlear implants and magnetic implants which provide people with a sense that they would not otherwise have had can additionally be thought of as creating cyborgs.
In 2002,under the heading Project Cyborg, a British Scientist, Kevin Warwick, had an array of 100 electrodes fired in to his nervous system in order to link his nervous system into the internet. With this in place he successfully carried out a series of experiments including extending his nervous system over the internet to control a robotic hand, a form of extended sensory input and the first direct electronic communication between the nervous systems of two humans.
More broadly, the full term "cybernetic organism" is used to describe larger networks of communication and control. For example, cities, networks of roads, networks of software, corporations, markets, governments, and the collection of these things together. A corporation can be considered as an artificial intelligence that makes use of replaceable human components to function. People at all ranks can be considered replaceable agents of their functionally intelligent government institutions, whether such a view is desirable or not.
Cyborg proliferation in society
In medicine, there are two important and different types of cyborgs: these are the restorative and the enhanced. Restorative technologies “restore lost function, organs, and limbs” (Gray 1995). The key aspect of restorative cyborgization is the repair of broken or missing processes to revert to a healthy or average level of function. There is no enhancement to the original faculties and processes that were lost.
On the contrary, the enhanced cyborg “follows a principle, and it is the principle of optimal performance: maximising output (the information or modifications obtained) and minimising input (the energy expended in the process)” (Lyotard 1984). Thus, the enhanced cyborg intends to exceed normal processes or even gain new functions that were not originally present.
Although prostheses in general supplement lost or damaged body parts with the integration of a mechanical artifice, bionic implants in medicine allow model organs or body parts to mimic the original function more closely. Michael Chorost wrote a memoir of his experience with cochlear implants, or bionic ear, titled "Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human." Jesse Sullivan became one of the first people to operate a fully robotic limb through a nerve-muscle graft, enabling him a complex range of motions beyond that of previous prosthetics. By 2004, a fully functioning artificial heart was developed. The continued technological development of bionic and nanotechnologies begins to raise the question of enhancement, and of the future possibilities for cyborgs which surpass the original functionality of the biological model. The ethics and desirability of "enhancement prosthetics" have been debated; their proponents include the transhumanist movement, with its belief that new technologies can assist the human race in developing beyond its present, normative limitations such as ageing and disease, as well as other, more general incapacities, such as limitations on speed, strength, endurance, and intelligence. Opponents of the concept describe what they believe to be biases which propel the development and acceptance of such technologies; namely, a bias towards functionality and efficiency that may compel assent to a view of human people which de-emphasises as defining characteristics actual manifestations of humanity and personhood, in favour of definition in terms of upgrades, versions, and utility.
One of the more common and accepted forms of temporary modification occurs as a result of prenatal diagnosis technologies. Modern parents willingly use testing methods such as ultrasounds and amniocentesis to determine the sex or health of the fetus. The discovery of birth defects or other congenital problems by these procedures may lead to neonatal treatment in the form of open fetal surgery or the less invasive fetal intervention.
A Brain computer interface, or BCI, provides a direct path of communication from the brain to an external device, effectively creating a cyborg. Research of Invasive BCIs, which utilize electrodes implanted directly into the grey matter of the brain, has focused on restoring damaged eye sight in the blind and providing functionality to paralyzed people, most notably those with severe cases, such as Locked-In syndrome.
The "cyborg soldier" often refers to a soldier whose weapon and survival systems are integrated into the self, creating a human-machine interface. A notable example is the Pilot's Associate, first developed in 1985, which would use Artificial Intelligence to assist a combat pilot. The push for further integration between pilot and aircraft would include the Pilot Associate's ability to "initiate actions of its own when it deems it necessary, including firing weapons and even taking over the aircraft from the pilot. (Gray, Cyborg Handbook)
Military organizations' research has recently focused on the utilization of cyborg animals for inter-species relationships for the purposes of a supposed a tactical advantage. DARPA has announced its interest in developing "cyborg insects" to transmit data from sensors implanted into the insect during the pupal stage. The insect's motion would be controlled from a MEMS, or Micro-Electro-Mechanical System, and would conceivably surveil an environment and detect explosives or gas. Similarly, DARPA has developed a neural implant to remotely control the movement of sharks. The shark's unique senses would be exploited to provide data feedback in relation to enemy ship movement and underwater explosives.
Other proposals have integrated the mechanical into the intuitive abilities of the individual soldier. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have set out to "create an exoskeleton that combines a human control system with robotic muscle." The device is distinctly Cyborgian in that it is self-powered, and requires no conscious manipulation by the pilot soldier. The exoskeleton responds to the pilot, through constant computer calculations, to distribute and lessen weight exerted on the pilot, allowing hypothetically for soldiers to haul large amounts of medical supplies and carry injured soldiers to safety.
The term “cyborg” not only applies to humans, but to animals as well. Some of the best examples of such animal cyborgs come from the ocean, but such research is relatively new. Technologies used range from simple radio transmitters attached for tracking purposes, to extremely complex surgically implanted electrodes used to record and manipulate behavior. One of the more fictionalized representations of a marine cyborg includes Jones, a cyborg dolphin from William Gibson’s Johnny Mnemonic. Jones is one of the more extreme examples, sporting a purely mechanical head piece, while most real world examples go unnoticed. Most “enhancements” added to marine organisms by humans are small or implanted directly into the skin, and are created as to not disrupt their natural behavior patterns. DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is experimenting with surgically implanted electrodes in shark brains to learn more about their behavior in hopes of being able to control some aspects of it. Shark behavior is still a largely unstudied subject in the biological sciences and the use of such electrodes might provide biologists a vast amount of information in short periods of time. With data collected from the experimentation DARPA engineers hope to decode the signals that the sharks are receiving in order to remotely manipulate such behaviors in the future. The shark’s natural ability to sense weak magnetic and electrical fields is of particular interest to the military, as they hope to use this to their advantage in future campaigns, to see and feel everything that a shark does as it glides through the ocean.
The cyborgization of sports has come to the forefront of the national conscious in recent years. Through the media, America has been exposed to the subject both with the BALCO scandal and the accusations of blood doping at the Tour de France levied against Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis. But, there is more to the subject; steroids, blood doping, prosthesis, body modification, and maybe in the future, genetic modification are all topics that should be included within cyborgs in sports.
The most commonly used steroid in sports is anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids are synthetically created to function like male hormones. Athletes use it to enhance their strength and performance beyond their natural means. Anabolic steroids increase the amount of testosterone in the body, which promotes muscle and bone growth in the body. Anabolic steroids also make it so an athlete can workout for longer periods of time than they naturally can.
Blood doping usually refers to three forms of adding red blood cells to the blood stream. The first form of blood doping is called homologous transfusions, in which the red blood cells from another person of the same blood type as the athlete are concentrated and frozen for a later transfusion when the athlete is going to start an event. The other form of blood doping is autologous. Autologous transfusions are when an athlete takes red blood cells out of their body before a competition and transfuse them back in their body right before the competition. The other form of blood doping is done through the injection of a hormone called erythropoietin. Erythropoietin increases the production of red blood cells in the blood stream. All of these forms of blood doping are used to increase the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. Blood doping is mainly used in endurance sports such as cycling and cross-country skiing because the extra oxygen carrying capacity given to the blood through blood doping gives the athlete more endurance.
The most common forms of prosthetics and enhancement we see in sports today are prosthetic legs and Tommy John surgery. Tommy John surgery is has resurrected many careers in Major League Baseball, actually allowing the pitchers to throw harder than they ever were able to do before. Some prime examples of this are Eric Gagne, Kerry Wood, and John Smoltz. "I hit my top speed (in pitch velocity) after the surgery," says Wood, the Chicago Cubs' 26-year-old All-Star. "I'm throwing harder, consistently." Gagne went from an average pitcher to being hall of fame eligible, winning the National League Cy Young Award in 2002, by tying the National League record for most saves in a season, and the National League Rolaids Relief Man of the Year in 2002 and 2003.
As of now, prosthetic legs and feet are not advanced enough to give the athlete the edge, and people with these prosthetics are allowed to compete, possibly only because they are not actually competitive in the Ironman event among other such -athlons. Prosthesis in track and field, however, is a budding issue. Prosthetic legs and feet may soon be better than their human counterparts. Some prosthetic legs and feet allow for runners to adjust the length of their stride which could potentially improve run times and in time actually allow a runner with prosthetic legs to be the fastest in the world.
In 1966, Kit Pedler, a medical scientist, created the Cybermen, a race of cyborgs, for the TV program Doctor Who based on his concerns about science changing and threatening humanity. The Cybermen were a race who had replaced much of their bodies with mechanical prostheses and were now supposedly emotionless creatures driven only by logic.
Isaac Asimov's short story "The Bicentennial Man" explored cybernetic concepts. The central character is NDR, a robot who begins to modify himself with organic components. His explorations lead to breakthroughs in human medicine via artificial organs and prosthetics. By the end of the story, there is little physical difference between the body of the hero, now called Andrew, and humans equipped with advanced prosthetics, save for the presence of Andrew's artificial positronic brain. Asimov also explored the idea of the cyborg in relation to robots in his short story Segregationist, collected in The Complete Robot.
The 1972 science fiction novel Cyborg, by Martin Caidin, told the story of a man whose damaged body parts are replaced by mechanical devices. This novel was later adapted into a TV series, The Six Million Dollar Man, in 1973, and its spin-off, The Bionic Woman in 1976.
In 1974, Marvel Comics writer Rich Buckler introduced the cyborg Deathlok the Demolisher, and a dystopian post-apocalyptic future, in Astonishing Tales #25. Buckler's character dealt with rebellion and loyalty, with allusion to Frankenstein's monster, in a twelve-issue run. Deathlok was later resurrected in Captain America.
The 1982 film Blade Runner featured creatures called replicants, bio-engineered or bio-robotic beings. The Nexus series — genetically designed by the Tyrell Corporation — are virtually identical to an adult human, but have superior strength, agility, and variable intelligence depending on the model. Because of their physical similarity to humans a replicant must be detected by its lack of emotional responses and empathy to questions posed in a Voight-Kampff test. A derogatory term for a replicant is "skin-job," a term heard again extensively in Battlestar Galactica. In the opening crawl of the film, they are first said to be the next generation in robotics. The crawl also states genetics play some role in the creation of replicants. The original novel makes mention of the biological components of the androids, but also alludes to the mechanical aspects commonly found in other material relating to robots.
The 1987 science fiction action film RoboCop features a cyborg protagonist. After being killed by a criminal gang, police officer Alex Murphy is transformed by a private company into a cyborg cop. The transformation is used to explore the theme of reification and identity. There are cyborg kaiju in the Godzilla films such as Gigan and Mechagodzilla.Although frequently referred to onscreen as a cyborg, The Terminator might be more properly an android. However, because it has skin and blood (cellular organic systems), the Terminator is technically a cybernetic organism.
One of the most famous cyborgs is Darth Vader from the Star Wars films. Vader was once Anakin Skywalker, a famous Jedi turned to the Dark Side. After a furious battle with his former master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin is left for dead beside a lava flow on Mustafar, and is outfitted with an artifical life support system as well as robotic arms and legs. General Grievous, Lobot and Luke Skywalker are the three other most prominent cyborgs in the Star Wars universe.
In the manga and anime series by Akira Toriyama titled Dragon Ball, a scientist named Dr. Gero created several cyborgs, including villain Cell, sibling cyborgs Android 17 and Android 18, as well as Android 20, who was built from Gero himself.
In the manga and anime series Ghost in the Shell, Motoko Kusanagi lived in a world where the majority of adults are cyborgs and can connect wirelessly to the Internet for real-time communication and data research. The most common augmentation in the series were artificial brains called cyberbrains.
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|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Cyborg". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|