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Introduction. Steve Mann – “ At a airport gate, a Cyborg unplugged ” NBC – Introduction + Wikis NBC – Chapter 1 - Tuesday. Andy Clark, Natural Born Cyborgs : Introduction.

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  • Steve Mann – “At a airport gate, a Cyborg unplugged”

  • NBC – Introduction + Wikis

  • NBC – Chapter 1 - Tuesday

Andy clark natural born cyborgs introduction

Andy Clark, Natural Born Cyborgs : Introduction

My body is an electronic virgin. I incorporate no silicon chips, no retinal or cochlear implants, no pacemaker. I don't even wear glasses (though I do wear clothes). But I am slowly becoming more and more a Cyborg. So are you. Pretty soon, and still without the need for wires, surgery or bodily alterations, we shall be kin to the Terminator, to Eve 8, to Cable...just fill in your favorite fictional Cyborg. Perhaps we already are. For we shall be Cyborgs not in the merely superficial sense of combining flesh and wires, but in the more profound sense of being human-technology symbionts: thinking and reasoning systems whose minds and selves are spread across biological brain and nonbiological circuitry. This book is the story of that transition and of its roots in some of the most basic and characteristics facts about human nature. For human beings, I want to convince you, are natural-born cyborgs.

Clark s argument cognitive hybridization mindware upgrades man the toolmaker cyborg

Clark’s Argument – Cognitive hybridization, mindware upgrades, man the toolmaker, cyborg

  • Humans have always done cognitive hybridization.

    • Speech & counting  written text & numerals  printing  printing press  digital encodings

    • Cascade of “mindware upgrades”

  • Our cyborg nature can explain:

    • Why humans differ from other animals while having similar neural & bodily resources

    • Why it’s hard to build a decent thinking robot

    • Why losing his laptop was tough


“bad at logic & good at Frisbee”

  • Human mind can’t be seen as bound & restricted by biological skin-bag

    • Prejudice that “whatever matters about my mind must depend solely on what goes on inside my own biological skin-bag, inside the ancient fortress of skin and skull.”

  • Role of biological brain

    • Good at pattern recognition, perception, controlling physical actions

    • Bad at complex planning & long derivations of consequences



  • “an organism that is a self-regulating integration of artificial & natural systems” (Wikipedia)

  • Cultural icon of human-machine hybrids

  • Clark – “hijack that image & to reshape it, revealing it as a disguised vision of (oddly) our own biological nature.”

  • Humans – unique in ability to enter into deep & complex relationships with nonbiological constructs, props & aids.

    • Doesn’t depend on physical wire-and-implants

    • Does depend on our openness to info-processing mergers

Post humanism www robertpepperell com posthum gener htm

1.1. It is now clear that Humans are no longer the most important things in the Universe. This is something the Humanists have yet to accept.

1.2. All technological progress of Human society is geared towards the redundancy of the Human species as we currently know it.

1.3. In the Posthuman era many beliefs become redundant - not least the belief in Human Being.

1.4. Human Beings, like Gods, only exist in as much as we believe them to exist.

1.5. The Future never arrives.

1.6. All Humans are not born equal, but it is too dangerous not to pretend that they are.

1.7. In the Posthuman era machines will be Gods.

1.8. Intelligent Agents will be the religious authorities of the Information Age. We will ask them to interpret the Chaos of the God machines for us.

Clark is not post humanist

Clark is not post-humanist

  • As NBC, humans ready to merge our mental abilities with technology

  • E.g., Lolo & his silicon chip

    • No signs of “cat-machine” symbiosis

  • New waves of user-sensitive technology that adapt to us will help us merge with technology -> harder to say “where world stops and the person begins”

  • We are “creatures whose minds are special precisely because they are tailor-made for multiple mergers and coalitions”

Clark s argument continues

Clark’s argument continues

  • Barrier between biological self & technological world was never very firm.

    • Plasticity & multiplicity are true constants

    • Technology has always been present

  • Example – home town of Brighton

    • Cell phones, Nokia, text messaging

    • Finnish use of “kanny” – extension of the hand – for cell phone.

      • Something you use + something that is part of you.

  • Upgrades have pros & cons

    • Every new technology brings new limits & demands.

Mind body problem is really mind body scaffolding problem

Mind-Body Problem is Really Mind-Body Scaffolding Problem

  • Understand how human thought & reason is born out of looping interactions between material brains, material bodies and complex cultural & technological environments.

  • Create environments, but they create us too.

  • “Baffling dance of brains, bodies, and cultural and technological scaffolding.”

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