Qualifications for the Cyborg

Lester D. Stone II '10, The Cyborg Self, Brown University, Fall 2006

Haraway brings us into a reality where humans are cyborgs. Humans qualify as cyborgs according to Haraway because of modern medicine. The pacemaker, artificial limbs and plastic surgery are some key examples. Miniaturization has been the turning point in the human association with machines As Haraway points out, "Miniaturization has turned out to be about power; small is not so much beautiful as pre-eminently dangerous" (153).

But through the small miniscule devices of silicon chips to television sets radios and even the video games, humans are still interacting with machines. In Mona Lisa Overdrive, being able to change one's race brings a new level human usage of machinery. It is through these forms of communication influence and power derive from. Even in primitive culture, human's dependency on machine and fusion was apparent. Haraway speaks of three crucial boundary distinctions. Biological-determinist ideology, Animal-human and machine and physical and non-physical are her three boundaries. Through miniaturization, the third boundary has been somewhat touched. The Biology-Determinist Ideology deals with the boundary between human and animal. Humans in this ideology have always tried to cut themselves away from animals. The notion of the cyborg brings the human and animal closer together while evolution and other Biological theories have pulled it farther apart. Haraway's second theory really nags at the possibility of their being a strong correlation between man and machine. Machine has always been thought of as a controlled entity. There existed no free will or consciousness of the sort. In this day and age, machines are becoming livelier and humans become more inert. A classic example is the cybernetic work in Japan. The robots in Japan are freakishly life like. Their awareness levels are increasing. On top of that, they are able to accumulate knowledge and learn new things. What frightens most are the physical resemblance that engineers have built into their robots. Simulation going back to Baudrillard can be seen in video cameras, TV wrist bands and other electronics. What comes to my own mind have been the video game consoles where every year, the developers are trying to come up with greater and greater realism.


1. Haraway hints at the dark side of technology like her forbearers Orwell and Huxley. Can humans become machines with the growing power of technology?

2. Does a boundary exist between humans and animals?

3. Human beings and their fascination with artificial intelligence brings dangerous waters. Will there be a cyborg civilization or do we already live in one?

4. Haraway also hints at two types of cyborg worlds. One brings power struggle and chaos while the other resembles a kind of utopia. Which world do you envision?

5. Have there always been these boundaries in human civilization?


Course Website cyborg Body & Self

Last modified 16 October 2006