Pros and Cons of Becoming a Cyborg: Trading Flesh for Metal

Pros and Cons of Becoming a Cyborg: Trading Flesh for Metal

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Pros and Cons of Becoming a Cyborg: Trading Flesh for Metal


Since the beginning of time, man has attempted to avoid the inevitable. In his endless pursuit of perfection, man has tried to dodge the grim reaper. Death is certain; life is not. Yet through technological interventions, man is attempting to be godlike and live eternally. Through these same interventions, man is becoming transformed into a cyborg. Currently, the technology has not arrived so that a man will be able to have more metal in his body than he would have flesh. But if one could be a cyborg , if one could live longer, jump higher, store more info, and become more efficient would they? Would one become a cyborg if it meant no more pain, no more suffering, but in exchange would require thousands of dollars worth of hardware and hundreds of hours’ worth of surgery. Today I will explore some of the pros and cons of becoming a cyborg. I will also explore how people today like Stelarc have already taken steps and modified their own bodies to become cyborgs. I will also define some of the ethical and morals issues supporting and criticizing the transformation from flesh to metal, with the end result becoming a cyborg.

First of all, one must define what a cyborg is, and also clearly define what a cyborg consist of. A cyborg is a combination of man and technology. Robocop, The Terminator, Spock are all clear examples of what a cyborg is. A cyborg is a combination of human life and artificial intelligence. What about the elderly, would they be considered cyborgs? Yes, with pacemakers surgically installed within their bodies, the elderly, according to the definition, are considered to be cyborgs. So then, what the hell is a cyborg? One may believe the best place to locate a definition is the Webster’s New World Dictionary; it defines cyborgs as “a hypothetical human being modified for life in a hostile or alien environment by the substitution of artificial organs and other body parts. Using the basic definition will not be enough, it is too broad. One cannot really determine what a cyborg is and what a cyborg is not. For instance, suppose if people followed this definition that would mean that anyone wearing a watch, contacts, glasses, or using headphones would be considered a cyborg.

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Right this moment, I too would be considered a cyborg, only because I am using my laptop. “A cyborg is a human whose body is technologically modified to form a new being and the union between human and machine is well on its way.” (Jordan, 1999). So people with pacemakers are cyborgs, and criminals with the implanted chip are also cyborgs. So now that a clear definition of what a cyborg has been formed, I will explore some of the pros and cons of becoming a cyborg.

Becoming a cyborg is expensive. First of all, cyborg hardware is still prototype hardware. At this point, it is not being sold to the general public. To get ahold of any of the state of the art technology a person must be loaded, but also have some friends in very high places. One will pay up to and far above $275,000 dollars to purchase a third arm as Stelarc owns and operates. This price does not include installation or maintenance. So one can figure after surgical installation which will take a minimum of fourteen hours, ones bank account will read roughly $400,000 less following transformation and your arm will be 16.75 lbs. heavier. Heavier arm, lots of cash, there has to be some sort of advantages. One advantage would be you would have an extra arm to do task with. If one had an extra arm one could shuffle cards faster, no one could ever beat the person in an arm wrestling contest, and he/she could be a world class boxing champ with no sweat. A disadvantage will be that it would be very hard to ever get through airport security and find shirts that will work. A major disadvantage of the third arm is that it would take some serious getting used to. Most people are already clumsy enough as is, another arm and watch out. Another huge disadvantage is that hardware does not grow as the person does. If a person grows the arm stays the same size meaning every so often a person would have to get a newer and larger third arm. Weary about the third arm, there are other inventions that can also get a person transformed. Another invention which can aid in the process of becoming a cyborg is the extra ear.

The extra ear is a surgically constructed ear as an additional facial feature that coupled with a modem and a wearable computer that will act as internet antennae, able to hear real audio sounds and further enhance you current hearing level far greater than ten times. So now a person has a third ear where they can be laughed at and made a freak show out of. One can have all this, the nine hour surgery which cannot be reversed, the third ear which weighs 11 ozs, and all for the very low cost of $325,000. Don’t get me wrong, there are advantages, the ear can pick up radio stations, xm radio, and it can hear people whisper about the person wearing it being a weirdo from up to fifty feet away. Another advantage, yet still under construction, is that family and friends can all have these third ears installed and communicate to each other using satellite technology. All of the cell phone companies will be angry at this third ear idea, because Stelarc owns the patent. Stelarc is my main area of concentration because of his expertise in the matter at hand.

I have mainly been discussing inventions of Stelarc because he amazes me the most of anyone that I have researched over the web or in books. He is funded by private institutions primarily in Australia and Japan and through his earnings from going on tour to demonstrate his inventions. He has dedicated his life to becoming inobsolete, because he feels the flesh is in fact obsolete. Saying people should dehydrate the body to make it durable and less vulnerable. Challenging his assertions, I feel that not of his inventions serve not practical purposes. In fact the his inventions do work and are able to be operated via the web by third parties while giving live demonstrations but at this point in time, what the purpose. It is great that he has spent his life with the pursuit of perfection within the human body, and yes it is true that Stelarc has made some amazing breakthroughs technologically, yet the fact remains what is the average human going to do with a third arm or an extra ear? I have contemplated on what might be some of the more rewarding attributes and I have yet to find one. Although not one of Stelarc’s inventions serve practical purposes in my eyes it was said that the United States Government as well as other world governments have made Stelarc offers for his inventions due to the importance of there strategic military uses . I am going to go into detail with three of Stelarc’s inventions and show how they do serve as military advantages if used properly.

The third arm has many military advantages. Having a third arm meant a person could hold an extra gun, operate an extra machine, and in combat it would definitely ensure ones success because having a synthetic arm would mean that it could feel no pain and could not be destroyed very easily as would human flesh. A person could have ten times the strength of a regular arm with the third arm. Stelarc’s extra ear could serve for many military advantages. spies could use the extra ear to listen to top secrets and communicate them back to there own military force. Being able to hear through walls and buildings or from great distances can help a solder greatly. The D.E.A and other government institutions could use the extra ear for sting operations to bust criminals. Instead of using walkie talkies police, soldiers, etc. could use the extra ear to communicate to each whereas that the criminals would not be able to use a scanner or other devices to descramble the signals which are being relayed. These inventions do in fact serve a valuable purpose.

There are some definite advantages and disadvantages to some of these new technological inventions, but at what cost. Some of the inventions are morally and ethically wrong. To be stronger one would have to modify you body by surgically adding hardware and other extensions. To hear better, one would have to run wires and other hardware to the brain and eardrum. I see something wrong with this picture. One can, without cloning, change their bodies now so much that, the original self looks nothing like the final project. Science has challenged the role of the original creator GOD, and attempted to recreate something natural, genuine, pure with nothing more the plastic and metal. The boundaries between real and unreal are becoming unclear, (Haraway,1991). It will not work! People are idiots for new concepts and technology. Like a fish, society is being reeled into this imaginary digital utopia, yet to see the devastating consequences that occur right before there very eyes. To destroy what makes us real, only destroys our purpose and the truth. There are to choices, both of which take a different path to arrive at the same location, flesh and the other being metal. Which would you decide?

Works Cited

Bass, Thomas A., Dress Code, wired (April 1998): 162-9, 185-7

Dibbell, Jillian, “A Rape in Cyberspace,” Peter Ludlow, High Noon on the Electronic Frontier: Conceptual Issues in Cyberspace (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996): 375-395

Haraway, D, 1991, Simians, Cyborgs and Women: the reinvention of nature, London: Free Association Books

Jordan, T, 1999, Cyberpower: the culture and politics of cyberspace and the internet’ London: Routledge

Webster’s New World Dictionary
www.crackinguniversity2000.it/augora/7256/acbor.html 4-12-02
www.stelarc.va.com 4-12-02
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