In the middle of the 16th century, Nicolaus Copernicus plucked us from the centre of the universe and placed us on a broken-off fragment of a suburban star. Late in the 19th century, Charles Darwin removed us from our exclusive niche as the creation of God and put us where we belonged on the same scale as the other animals. Early in this 20th century, Sigmund Freud informed us that we are not even rational animals but moved largely by irrational forces of which we are not even aware. Each of those theories could be considered as challenging a reassuring discontinuity - between our planet and the rest of the universe, between ourselves and the other animals, and between rational and irrational creatures. Bruce Mazlich argues that, now at the end of this century, we are being confronted by a challenge to a fourth discontinuity - that between the person and the machine [Mazlich, 1993].

      It is not surprising then that so much focus has been placed recently on the cyborg. This entity - part-person and part-machine - lies somewhere along this dubious dimension between person and machine, and thus challenges the dichotomy of person and machine. It has been a staple of science fiction for some time, especially in the sub-genre of cyberpunk. However, it is beginning to appear more and more in popular culture. A spate of recent feature films have 'starred' various cyborgs - for example, Terminator, Robocop, Cyborg, Lawnmower Man, Johnny Mnemonic, Solo.

      Even scholars have shown some recent interest in cyborgs under various aliases - e.g. metamen [Stock, 1993] or micromen [Pask & Curran 1982]. Kevin Kelly proposes a "new biology of machines" [Kelly, 1994]. We even have a Cyborg Handbook [Gray et al, 1995] and a Cyborg Manifesto [Haraway, 1985]. Of course, the fact that the academy has 'discovered' the issue could mean - as some cynics say - that it is passČ! However, this academic for one thinks the cyborg issue will be with us for some time, and that the cyborg will become a major metaphor for the coming millennium.

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