It can be argued that in our society, we are all cyborgs. Each time someone uses a gun, he or she is using a prosthesis that is only an extension and multiplier of the hand's options.
Each time someone starts driving a car, a train or enters an airplane, he or she accepts the possibility of being killed inside that vehicle. Having an accident or being killed in a crash is always potentially lurking behind those everyday activities. They let us become one with the machines; we melt together.

At the very moment of a plane crash, for example, the machine and the human passengers become one, they melt together since they are both victims of the same fate.

J.G. Ballard describes Science Fiction as 'the body's dream of becoming a machine.' and prosthetics as 'the castration complex raised to an art form'. I would like to push both definitions a bit further but nevertheless in the same direction.

Prosthetics are a part of the body's dream as it is described above insofar as their aim is to perfect a damaged body, to bring it closer to a machine like state. The word prosthetic is derived from the Latin word prostithenai, to put to, to add. Isn't that exactly what we are doing every day? Right now, I am using a computer which adds to my spelling abilities, to give just one example. The autopilot inside a cockpit adds to the pilot's navigational abilities. One could in fact stretch the meaning of the word so far that nearly every tool or machine becomes a prosthesis from that point of view. But, to come back to Ballard's definitions, this is not an extreme point of view at all.

Scientific as well as engineering research is aiming at perfecting the body, and there is obviously a demand or drive that makes them do so. This might be connected to Ballard's assertion that the castration complex has been raised to an art form. Maybe the body's dream is only the dream of becoming complete again, becoming one with the thing you created. The fear of technology is the father's fear of his son.

Be that as it may, technology certainly has arrived at a point where machines become either body extensions or substitutes. There are innumerable examples for this: answering machines, cars, guns, vibrators, videorecorders (they watch for you) etc. The cyborg is a reality and it is each one of us.

main page
Cyberspace Web Hypertext