Andy Clark's Natural-Born Cyborgs Essay

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Andy Clark, in Natural-Born Cyborgs, offers an extended argument that technology’s impact on and intertwining with ordinary biological human life is not to be feared, either psychologically or morally. Clark offers several key concepts towards his line of reasoning. Clark argues that a human being thinks and reasons based on the biological brain and body dynamically linked with the culture and technological tools transparently accessible to the human. This form of thinking and reasoning develops new "thinking systems" that which over time become second nature thoughts and reasons and are the basis of even newer "thinking systems." It is a repetitive cycle that continues forever being built upon previous systems. Clark argues that humans are natural-born cyborgs based on the dynamic link, the constant two-way traffic between the biological processes of the human and the technological tools that aid the thinking process. Hence, these tools are apart of the thinking process, and therefore, the person. In essence, the human brain, as Clark keenly puts it, is an "incomplete cognitive system," (Clark, 189) and is only complete when both sides of the link are inextricably merged.
Clark continues by reasoning that the future technology and its dynamic link to the biological human processes is to be expected, as this has been the case throughout human history -- it is human nature for future mergers with new technology to occur based on the continuous cycle since language came into existence that Clark recognizes. Clark argues that this merger should not be feared and the development of the technology not be hindered in any way. Although, he does strongly warn that the human race needs to be cautious during this time of merging new technologies with the human body and brain. There are several concerns (opponents' fears) that Clark mentions, though, brief and less complex self admittedly. In each line of defense, there is a general underlying theme that develops. This theme he portrays is a drive to increase society's awareness of the merger of self and technology. He suggests that this awareness start with truly understanding one's self and then understanding one's interactions with technology in daily life, as he gracefully captured here, "Know Thyself; Know Thy Technologies" (Clark, 183). Clark's strongest defense to not f...

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...nsive bodily motions (and possibly other non-interesting neural signals) as well as external use of tools for survival at a minimum (sticks, stones, etc.). Eventually, language was introduced to the brain and as Clark notes, over time has taken over our conscious portion of the brain while the responsive bodily motions are a mere unconscious happening, which I imagine was the conscious portion of the brain before language. I find this evolving of the brain to be fascinating. The possibilities that future technologies could hold are unimaginable. Unlike Clark, I do fear the future of technology. While I do agree with his notion that awareness of self and surroundings creates a cautious environment, one that can be very beneficial. I believe it is too optimistic of a goal for society to become aware and accepting of all of its surroundings, seeing that society hasn't been able to conquer divides between races, religions, genders, and etc. after several centuries in some cases. What would motivate society now to suddenly change its persistent stubbornness, in light of a new future only a short time away?

Clark, Andy. Natural-Born Cyborgs. Oxford University Press, 2003.

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