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Cyborg Liberation? | 6 comments
[new] Ah, singularity.... (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#6)
by ericscoles (eris at antikoan) on Wed Oct 1st, 2003 at 01:42:59 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
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... such a noble dream, to bring forth our successors into the world...

I wonder how Arthur Clarke feels about the Singularists. He always loved to speculate that our "purpose" might be to create our successors through technology.

Singlularism, like New Economism, seems to me to be another new flavor of Catastrophism: "Everything's gonna change, and it's gonna change REAL FAST!" You'd think we would have learned by now that while everything's changing all the time, most things are also staying the same in all the really important ways. For example, we still breathe air, the sun still "rises", corporate bodies still have more power than individuals, and people still want to touch, taste, and feel things the way they grew up doing.

But maybe the deMause camp of PsychoHistorians are right -- maybe we're wired by our peri-natal trauma and birthing drama to always look for catastrophic or cascading changes in the world. Or maybe it's simpler yet, of course: after all, changes are just easier to see when they're bigger and sudden, than when they're smaller and gradual.

But I digress. The singularity, if indeed anything like it ever does happen, won't be something we recognize as it happens. It will be something that we approximate after the fact. And, as such, its its place in time, space and nature will be determined by how we define it. It's not a real thing in any objective sense -- it's a point in time that only makes sense in terms of human understanding, and then, only after the fact.

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[new] trans.... (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#5)
by Anonymous Stranger on Wed Sep 24th, 2003 at 11:01:38 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME

err maybe some of the trans/anthropic/posthuman lies in the ontological committments yet to be made - that if there is radical constructivism, and if we are no longer the only species that handles symbolic orders, --> there is a new formspace being forged

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[new] transhumanist conference - racism of hybrid-trek. (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#4)
by JohnHutnyk on Fri Aug 8th, 2003 at 08:48:43 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME
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I agree its all too 1980s sci fi - cyborg is as old as androids what dream of sheep. Why would a supercomputer even want to play chess?

Its very much in the twighlight zone, even in its later academic forms. But there is a racist element underneath the machine-people interface. And I see no difference here between the academy and the enterprise, sadly. So, some background, in studies of science and technology it has been possible to present hybridity as the central coordinate of contemporary capitalist relations, and sometimes as an unmitigated boon. If anthropologists were obsessed with saving culture, linguists with the specificity of language, then science studies personnel have been obsessed with the human and industrial hardware. The cyborg is the `hybridization of human and machine' in the work of Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt (Hardt and Negri 2000:405) - though they do note that the cyborg is a fable, and that hybridity, like mobility and difference, is not libratory in itself (Hardt and Negri 2000:154). Other presentations of the cyborg are altogether more upbeat, postulating an advanced fantasy multicultural future similar to the blind uniformity of television sit-com a la Star Trek. Geordi the black engineer with prosthetic eyewear in the New Generation series, and Seven of Nine, the technologically enhanced Borg poster girl in the Voyager series, are classic examples of the type (we can ignore the android Data as just a robot, an inferior point of view character for pre-teens). Don't get me wrong, I still like Star Trek but wince because of its forays into racial politics, with the first cross race screen kiss in the original 1960s series (Captain Kirk and Communications Officer Uhura were under the influence of mysterious drugs) no-one less than Martin Luther King thought it worthwhile to congratulate director Gene Rodenberry and visit the set. Yet the prime directive of Star Trek's Federation (a kind of intergalactic American Empire) exhibits the same anxiety about racial mixture that its key character roles seem designed to deflect. The prime directive counsels against interaction with `pre-warp' cultures (i.e., underdeveloped planets) - though more often than not the plot requires this directive be breached. The overt text is about the volatile dangers of unrestricted technological advance (i.e., against technology transfer), but in nearly every case the transgression of the rule takes on a voluptuous cross species sexual charge. Up above, in the starship, purity is secured, Geordi and Seven are integrated into the Starfleet crew. The cyborg of science fiction is significantly the moment of erasure of cultural difference under the efficiency of the machine-human interface, eradicating or compensating for structural defects (Geordi's blindness, Seven's sense of collective responsibility as one of the technology-fixated Borg). Rant over. Back to the telly.

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Cyborg Liberation? | 6 comments


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