| Katherine Hayles argues that we are all cyborgs [Hayles, 1995]. We can 'look forward' to becoming more and more cyborgian as we age and require glasses, false teeth, a hearing aid, insulin shots to control our diabetes, a pacemaker to charge up our heart, perhaps even an artificial limb or two. What kind of cyborg do you plan to be? (This replaces the perennial question "What do you want to be when you grow up?") The machine parts we may require as we age are, of course, prosthetics to replace malfunctioning organic systems. While perhaps inevitable, this may not be the type of cyborg we aspire to be. |
If we turn for inspiration to the fictional characters in cyberpunk novels and in the films mentioned above, we note that they have positive prosthetics. That is, whereas they may replace missing organic parts, they are superior to those parts and, in some cases, they are added to a perfectly functioning body. For example, whereas our eye-glasses merely return our failing sight to normal, the goggles, worn by Hiro, the hero of Snow Crash , expand his sight beyond the visual spectrum [Stephenson, 1992]. The prosthetics may be positive but they are not necessarily used in positive ways. The characters in the Matrix Trilogy (Neuromancer, Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive) by William Gibson have positive prosthetics which are usually weapons necessary to survive in his apocalyptic vision of the near future. Eve, the eponymous heroine in Eve of Destruction, has a nuclear bomb in place of a womb and must therefore be treated very carefully. Let us focus on prosthetics which are positive in both senses, constructive rather than destructive tools.
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