File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0112, message 80

Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2001 21:31:18 +0000
Subject: Cyborg 2 - Negative Consequences

Part 2...

The critics of the cyborg, bioelectronics and biocomputing suggest that 
there are negative social consequences from the technology. Firstly the 
human race will continue to divide along the lines of the biologically 
superior and the biological-inferiors, exacerbating the current trend. 
Those from the G20+ with enough money will be able to augment their 
personal attributes as they are currently doing with technologies such 
as plastic surgery, fitness trainers etc. with the introduction of 
cloning, organ replacement, biotechnical enhancement etc they will be 
able to stave off death for longer periods while the majority of 
humanity will continue to suffer from plague, hunger, supposedly bad 
genetics and shorter lifespans. The biologically superior will have 
power advocating separation and extinction for their unmodified peers. 
The minimum change will probably be that two 'strains' of humanity who 
will develop separately, one strand along the normal trajectory of 
evolution, the other along the path of 'participatory evolution' 
probably as drastically as Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal man in the 
prehistoric past, at which point there may be more than one human 
species. Post-Darwinian theory states that somatic adaptations are not 
inherited but as we begin modifying human DNA and RNA, this will not be 
the case. The theorists who theorise the 'cyborg' are legitimating the 
construction and diversification of humanity.

The science/military complex is already considering the construction of 
super-soldiers, augmented by so much technology they may rust in the 
rain. Technology to create fast reflexes, inbuilt indifference to 
killing, resistance to fatigue, bodily integrated weapons, and most 
importantly, lesser inclinations toward fear or doubt in combat. They 
could be created through the usual concoctions of cyborgian chemicals, 
bio/electronics, and inheritable DNA manipulation. It's clear that these 
cyborgs would be able to turn on their creators. We would forever be 
their inferiors.

I think we have adequately touched on the fascist master race 
developments from this technology and it is inevitable that some idiot 
scientist will attempt and probably fail to construct one.

It is seriously suggested by the jeffersonian anarchist that the 
protection from this nightmarish if amusing scenario of homo sapiens 
replacement is citizenship and cyborg theory... (I however think that I 
perfer the multitude to this G1 identification of hope with citizenship...)

To extend this logic a little one of the other interesting elements is 
ubiquitous computing probably merged with bioelectronics enhancing the 
elements of the control society to monitor people. It is easy to use 
bio-implants to trace and locate and even monitor the condition and 
behavior of implanted sub-humans who aprat from being us are the 
mulititude. This would eradicate all notions of human privacy. The 
builders of this would see it as necessary to keep their subjects 
happily subjugated. Implanted with electronic and biological devices we 
cyborgs would become completely dependent on the technologies creators 
for their repair, recharge, and maintenance. It is possible to a 
intervene in a body technologically so that a body will stop producing 
chemical substances necessary for its survival consequently placing them 
completely under the control of the technologies designers.

I will not at this stage discuss the tremendous risks toward human 
health and safety... The pro-cyborg perspective ignores this risk so I 
shall as well. Unless someone specifically asks for examples...

These are essentially scientific, technological and conceptual criticisms.

In addition there are equally relevant critiques deriving from 
traditional theology and bioethics. These groups foresee drastic effects 
on religion from these forms of cyborg/biotechnology for example with 
regard to the idea of 'intrinsic sanctity' and 'the integrity of human 
life' (not that religion has ever lived up to this absurd claim but 
still) and the notion that human beings are created in the image of the 
Divine. Those who are not spiritually inclined still sometimes possess 
the feeling that there is something within humanity which is not found 
in animals or machines and which makes us uniquely human, believe that 
the essence of our humanity will obviously be lost within this technology.

(I of course reject this ridiculous claim of uniqueness of humanity and 
believe that a serious ethical and philosophical should reject this 
position, but it is the foundation of many interesting perspectives)

Essentially the argument is that human beings are worth something 
regardless of any deficits, flaws, and infirmities, will be lost in the 
rush to cyborg/human biotechnological enhancements. Those who doubt that 
human beings are simply biological machines made up from software and 
wetware rightly consider the consequences of the cyborg/bioelectronics 
developments with some trepidation.

Need I state in conclusion that I believe that Lyotard is plainly on 
this side of the argument - and actually, rather entertainly so am I.



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