Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mechanists and Shapers

I'm responding here to a comment made by Steve underneath his image 'the load-bearing spirit' (21.01.11) that the cyborg is motion and flow and unfinished and becoming and direct and moving and still, all at once. I should say that I see a vast difference between the cyborg of science fiction films, which is almost always more machine than human, real-life individuals with medical prosthesis and the cybernetic body associated with virtual technologies, although in theory they all get thrown into the mix. I agree with Steve, the human (posthuman) is a continuum, rather than an event and this is where the notion of becoming comes into play.
My current thought is that the cyborg will be surpassed in the future by the opportunistic human who avails themselves of advanced biomedical technologies. This genetically modified human, will take designer drugs to ward off dementia and prolong life, her failing tissue and internal organs replaced by specifically designed tissue-engineered ones that avoid rejection. Her diseased tissue replaced with those from an genetically modified 'human friendly' animal, her outer body surgically modified to conform to current standards of beauty. But for a long time we will live in a world inhabited by altered humans, one that Bruce Sterling described in 1983 as two distinct future states of being ~ a world of posthuman shapers ~ genetically engineered or surgically modified individuals and mechanists, those with prosthetically modified bodies. Eventually, even prosthetic limbs will look more life like, so much so that the new cyborg will be unidentifiable as such.

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