File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0112, message 89

Date: Fri, 14 Dec 2001 19:19:43 +0000
Subject: cyborg 3 - balance and conclusions


I began writing the cyborg notes to outline some of the diverse 
varieties of the cyborgian and related positions, Some good, some 
amusing. My intention at this stage was to outline a quasi-scientific 
and quasi-philosophical response to the mess of impossible and 
contradictory definitions. However I realised as I wrote this that I was 
interested not in conclsions but in drawing out the problematic roots of 
the issues, in an attempt to place a baseline behind the use of the term 
CYBORG which we've been using quite a lot recently. Indirectly, 
answering, i hope, my distrust of the cyber-feminist and cyber-citizin 

The proponents of the cyborg and the associated bioelectronic 
technologies are correct in suggesting that it enables interesting 
benefits for humans, plants and animals. Those who argue for human 
obsolescence as a benefit should be discounted and hopefully funding 
removed given that you shouldn't finance the terminally stupid. 
Skepticism towards the cyborg/bioelectronics areas arises out of the low 
levels of success achieved by the proponants of the technology which 
confirms commonly held attitudes toward computers and 
medical/reproductive procedures that are not normally understood but 
recognised as simply not working well. Those in favour of these 
developments are simply incorrect to argue that regulation and oversight 
will prevent research and scientific progress in the relevant computing, 
cyborg and bio-technical disciplines. Once a technology is out there, 
you cannot make it disappear. There have rarely been technologies that 
the human race has abandoned, even the weapons of mass destruction with 
the power to wipe out all human life on Earth. While ethicists and 
scientists have discussed the possibility of a ban on genetics research 
for example they knew it was not really feasible. Technology is not 
nuetral. There are no laws of technological determinism, as if breeding 
to the inner logic of development. It develops and florishes in response 
to social, economic and political requirements. The case of cybernetics 
is examplary in this case after the utopian beginnings when it attempted 
to claim an all inclusive relationship to the human universe, and 
sometimes beyond. Cybernetics became deeply reductionist reducing 
processes and complex objectives to black boxes and dynamic control 
systems. Not simply in the natural sciences, social sciences but also 
deep into the mind, a kind of neo-behaviourism of the mind.

Cyborg/bioelectronic technologies cannot be wished away. Humnan beings 
rarely give up the opportunity to change, improve themselves from social 
activities like excessive exercise to amend the body, insertion of 
silicon implants, drugs to supposedly increase intelligence and so on. 
If human beings are given the possibility to use cyborg and 
bio-electronics within their bodies to achieve similar ends. It is 
certain that humans will use them to do so in spite of any risks. The 
ethical issue is not related to this but to the use of resources to 
further the G20s adventures in mind/body reconstruction whilst millions 
die of starvation as a result of the neo-colonialism that supports it. 
Nonetheless a new bioethics/philosophical perspective seems necessary. 
We cannot be aware of the dangers to the bodies of the idiots (such as 
Stelarc) who are early adopters of these technologies. Scientists and 
technologists should be forced to adopt ethical protocols on acceptable 
research on living subjects - for example - 'no experiments on anything 
but humans' is an essential condition for a bio-ethical position, which 
is an extention of the protocols adopted by genetic engineers in the 70/80s.



Driftline Main Page


Display software: ArchTracker © Malgosia Askanas, 2000-2005