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Cellphones Technology

Are You a Competent Cyborg? 101

Posted by Soulskill
from the assimilation-is-taking-longer-than-i-expected dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Beyond your smartphone screen lies an infinitely more interesting world, if only you could get past the myopic app view you're currently bound to. Glen Martin ponders the existential unease lying at the root of the Internet of Things: 'We're already cyborgs: biological matrices augmented by wirelessly connected silicon arrays of various configurations. The problem is that we're pretty clunky as cyborgs go. We rely on screens and mobile devices to extend our powers beyond the biological. That leads to everything from atrophying social skills as face-to-face interactions decline to fatal encounters with garbage trucks as we wander, texting and oblivious, into traffic. So, if we're going to be cyborgs, argues Breseman, let's be competent, sophisticated cyborgs. For one thing, it's now in our ability to upgrade beyond the screen. For another, being better cyborgs may make us — paradoxically — more human.'"
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Are You a Competent Cyborg?

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  • by kruach aum (1934852) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @03:49PM (#46279535)

    I'm not a cyborg.

    • by BenFenner (981342) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @04:37PM (#46279957)
      Those who modded this poster as a troll have no clue what the poster is doing. They are pointing out that the headline of the article is a LEADING QUESTION, and pigeonholes the reader into a false scenario. The poster simply says they reject the premise that they are a cyborg at all.

      The beating your wife question is a classic example of a leading question. Hopefully the post will get modded properly? I'm sorry kruach aum, there are some fools modding today.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        If you are here, you have a computer. If you have a computer, you are a cyborg.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          The computer is a tool. Owning and using a computer doesn't make me any more a cyborg than does owning and using a hammer.
          • About that... Clothes make you a cyborg. Augmenting your limb for whacking things certainly would qualify. Technology makes us cyborgs. That's exactly what cybernetics was meant to address and develop, especially when second-order cybernetics necessarily dragged even the cyberneticists into the system scope. You'd have some argument for a hasty generalizing definition for less dedicated users or tools, but us and hammers are pretty involved. Computers extend us greatly: our physical manipulators, senses, me
            • by zsau (266209)

              Then what is the value of the word "cyborg"? It contributes nothing of value. All humans almost ever would be cyborgs, whether they're throwing stones and lighting fires or have computers between their senses and the outside world.

              • What about tool-users, speakers, or currently sophonts? Cyborg has use in the scope for which it was originally defined. Hacker had use in the scope it was originally defined, despite applying to almost everyone that would ever use the word by its original definition and most people they're bother referring to as well.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        The term is "loaded question": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loaded_question

    • by pr0t0 (216378)

      I'm guessing you are being modded as troll because the well-known logical fallacy you used in your subject to illustrate your point, went straight over the heads of the mods. To wit:

      The question "Have you stopped beating your wife?" is a common illustration of the "loaded question" logical fallacy. Kruach's point was the question "Are you a competent cyborg?" is also a loaded question. We are not cyborgs at all, and the use of a cell phone doesn't make me a cyborg any more than using a car makes me a mode o

      • Yep. The article is just a fluff piece starting from a false presumption. The author might as well suggest that early tool using humans were cyborgs because they augmented their natural physical abilities with sharpened stones, or if we go a little more recent augmented their ability to store and transfer knowledge by carving cuneiform into clay tablets. There really is nothing to see here.

    • I wouldn't call myself a cyborg, but I am, in part, bionic. I have ocular implants that vastly improve my vision and adjustable, augmented hearing.
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Oh, how the mighty slashdot community has fallen. First "troll" and now "funny"? That was insightful. An automobile, a telephone, Google Glass, even prosthetic feet don't make you a cyborg. A cyborg is an organism with an implanted device which allows the organism to function better. Look it up in Webster's or the OED, they both agree (and no, wictionary and the urban dictionaries are not accurate about much of anything except slang). Your glasses don't make you a cyborg, but my eye implant makes me one. Yo

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The unease lying at the root of the Internet of Things is not that you're becoming more machine-like. It's that you can't turn it off.

    • It's that you can't turn it off.

      You don't have free will?

      • by Anonymous Coward
        It's OK, no one has free will in any meaningful sense. We're effects, rather than any kind of first cause.
      • I don't have any control over what happens inside my brain and, in fact, I'm not even aware of it.

        So not only I don't have free will, but I'm not even conscious of myself.

  • No. (Score:5, Informative)

    by NoKaOi (1415755) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @03:53PM (#46279581)

    We rely on screens and mobile devices to extend our powers beyond the biological.

    Which is exactly why we're not cyborgs.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Cyborg is a being with both human and mechanical parts; however that doesn't mean the mechanical parts need to be inside you.

      • Re:No. (Score:4, Funny)

        by i kan reed (749298) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @04:05PM (#46279699) Homepage Journal

        Yeah, that's more cyberphilia.

      • Re:No. (Score:4, Informative)

        by NoKaOi (1415755) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @04:12PM (#46279751)

        Cyborg is a being with both human and mechanical parts; however that doesn't mean the mechanical parts need to be inside you.

        From the Oxford English Dictionary: cyborg /sbôrg/ noun. a fictional or hypothetical person whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by mechanical elements built into the body.

        Merriam-Webster: a person whose body contains mechanical or electrical devices and whose abilities are greater than the abilities of normal humans.

        Dunno about you, but my phone, laptop, tv, etc do not fall under Oxford's built into my body nor Merriam-Webster's contained in my body.

        • Dunno about you, but my phone, laptop, tv, etc do not fall under Oxford's built into my body nor Merriam-Webster's contained in my body.

          ...And thank $deity for that; could you imagine such a thing, in today's world of proprietary hardware and software, not to mention planned obsolescence?

          Scary.

          • The obvious solution is to place the minimal interface hardware inside, and the replaceable parts outside. The wires go on the brain, and the computer goes on a hat, connected via socket/magnetic coupling/ultra-low-power radio/transdermal optics.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            And thank $deity for that; could you imagine such a thing, in today's world of proprietary hardware and software, not to mention planned obsolescence?

            That train already left the station. It's certain you know real cyborgs, it's just that we cyborgs don't stand out; we don't look like the terminator or robocop. A very large number of (mostly older) people have artificial hips, CrystaLens eye implants, artificial knees, cochlear implants, pacemakers, and other other mechanical parts implanted. Without those p

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Cute, however maybe you should read the actual use of the word?

          Protip: as soon as it's defined as a person, and not an organism, what you are reading it likely to be wrong.

          Now explain to me why an electrical signal to our brain from your optical nerve is different then to your brain via any other nerve.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            Protip: as soon as it's defined as a person, and not an organism, what you are reading it likely to be wrong.

            Animals are organisms. Humans are an animal species. We ARE organisms. Your dog has an artificial hip? He's a cyborg. You have an artificial hip? You're a cyborg.

            Now explain to me why an electrical signal to our brain from your optical nerve is different then to your brain via any other nerve.

            Nerve signals are chemical, not electrical. You can, however, affect chemistry with electricity, which is how

        • So someone with a pacemaker can be seen as a cyborg by that part of humanity that is currently dying from heart disease, but since a normal healthy human isn't dying from heart disease at the moment someone with a pacemaker is not a cyborg.

          However, if Oscar Pistorius replaces his prosthetic legs by some jet engines and has one of his hands replaced by an incorporated pistol, he can become the first cyborg drone in history and not be arrested for murder

      • by khasim (1285)

        I have an abacus and a car.

        Fear my part-human/part-abacus/part-automobile wrath!

        And someone riding a horse is not the same thing as a centaur.

    • Some of us are more cyborg than others, like my (partly battery-powered) brother with electrode implants in his brain.

    • The definitions of "cyborg" and "cybernetic" are in an academic context VERY broad. Really only science fiction has narrowed the concept to a William Gibsonesque "person with machine bits grafted on".

      In Norbert Wiener's sense a person holding a phone definitely qualifies. Many scholars would have no problem at all with the "machine" part being something even more disconnected or abstract - perhaps business/social/economic in nature.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]

    • I had a cadaver bone graft and titanium inserted into my neck. That makes me a zomborg. So either way if the machines or the zombies rise up, I'm already covered.

  • ... with the help of a few garbage trucks, that is.

    Selection pressure is most certainly against those who wander oblivious.

  • You keep using that word (cyborg). I do not think it means what you think it means... :P http://youtu.be/G2y8Sx4B2Sk [youtu.be]
    • by geekoid (135745)

      A cyborg is an organism enhanced by technology. What the difference between information being automatically handled and the results getting to your brain via the optic nerve as opposed to any other nerves?
      They fact that I am doing things view the signal coming through the optic nerves opposed to other nerves doesn't really matter.

      "For the exogenously extended organizational complex functioning as an integrated homeostatic system unconsciously, we propose the term 'Cyborg'. - Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S.

      • So blind people are part-dog because they use a guide dog to augment their senses?

        • by geekoid (135745)

          You questions underlines your preconceived, and incorrect, notion of what cyborg means.

          It also show your ignorance of genetics, because we share a lot of genes with dogs.
          Guide dogs do not augment any senses. I don't think you understand how they work.

          • They allow the blind person to used their senses of touch and hearing to interact with a trained dog to take advantage of its sense of sight.

            Just like using your eyes and fingers to interact with a cellphone to take advantage of it.

            How is it any different?

      • "For the exogenously extended organizational complex functioning as an integrated homeostatic system unconsciously, we propose the term 'Cyborg'.

        Just for kicks, I put that sentence through The Hemingway App. [hemingwayapp.com] Their server has been down for some time now.

      • Just for failing to see my humor I shall counter your meaningless reference with another meaningless reference. From the great and un-erring Wikipedia!

        A cyborg, short for "cybernetic organism", is a being with both organic and mechanical parts.

        Take that!

  • !cyborg (Score:5, Insightful)

    by snarfies (115214) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @04:07PM (#46279715) Homepage

    That's like arguing that I am an ox because I use a tractor to plow my field rather than do it all by hand.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    People tend to think future will look as scifi writers and movies imagine. We want to make those ideas happen, but can't do it in such spectacular way, so we have to resorts to "becoming a cyborg by having a smart phone" way. The end-result is the same, even if you are disappointed. For example, telepathy, did not have to wait evolution to solve it for us, you can talk to anyone using that smart phone.

  • You will be Assimilated.

    Regards
    Slashdotgirl

    • I am a competent 'cyborg' because I have a goddamn mouse and a goddamn keyboard, unlike all these incompetents pawing at sheets of glass.

  • If you endlessly pursue screens and mobile devices, facebook, twitter, and similar accouterments, then you are a sheep, not a competent cyborg.
    • Yeah, a real cyborg would have wi-fi connectivity in the brain, be able to memorize and compute huge amounts of data as well as current computers, he would also have a built-in CNC, 3D printer, laser/plasma cutter and could dispense ice cubes in hot summer weather.

      Wait, what was the topic again?

  • I would argue against being a cyborg, but my insulin pump and my constant blood sugar monitor tend to tell me that I am a cyborg.

    And they also tell me not to eat cookies, but I mostly ignore that part of it.

  • by coldsalmon (946941) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @04:36PM (#46279945)

    Many people have made the point that we are already cyborgs; the main prototypical example that comes to mind is Donna Haraway's Cyborg Manifesto [egs.edu]. She argues interestingly that "By the late twentieth century, our time, a mythic time, we are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short, we are cyborgs." All the casual Marxism makes for fun reading too. She is making a metaphorical comparison, as is Mr. Martin in TFA, but it's a useful and interesting metaphor. No, I do not have electronics built into my body, but I also could not survive without technology. Thus, when I answer the question "Who am I," it is reasonable to extend the boundaries of my "self" beyond my physical body to encompass the technology that I rely upon to sustain my existence. It's also reasonable to include the data that I maintain and publish as part of my self-concept, and the technology that makes that possible.

    • In pertinent part: "...taking responsibility for the social relations of science and technology means refusing an anti-science metaphysics, a demonology of technology, and so means embracing the skilful task of reconstructing the boundaries of daily life, in partial connection with others, in communication with all of our parts. It is not just that science and technology are possible means of great human satisfaction, as well as a matrix of complex dominations. Cyborg imagery can suggest a way out of the ma

    • But why limit it to modern technology? Is a knight a human-armor-horse hybrid? Is a caveman a human-spear hybrid? I can't imagine how describing things this way leads to a deeper level of understanding.

  • I'm not a cyborg, but I think I'm pretty competent; after all, I didn't design beta.

  • That leads to everything from atrophying social skills as face-to-face interactions decline to fatal encounters with garbage trucks as we wander, texting and oblivious, into traffic

    Or you could, you know, not be a dumbass.

  • "I am a cyborg. You are pretty. Will you go out with me?"

    "Uhhhh...no."

    "Yeah get lost nerd."

    "By the three laws of robotics, I must obey commands from humans. Goodbye."

  • I am a meat popsicle.

  • I wouldn't want to be a cyborg, because in our society, being a cyborg means that you are truly and irresitibly a captive audience. You really DON'T want the internet hooked directly into your brain because there is no way to turn it off. What a hell it would be to be a cyborg. You'd be constantly bombarded with ads you don't want; information you don't want; and no way to unplug it.

  • working out of my home as a consultant gets pretty lonely, so I like to ride the bus and train so I can meet new friends. But I recently started to be dismayed at how many people stare glued to their phones during their public transit rides. Typically it is half the passengers. Wouldn't we be better off if we spoke to our neighors? Just now I walked pass a kiosk in an electronics shop that had a screen with the text "Use Skype while watching your favorite movie". I regard using Skype while watching my
  • Damn it, you're not a cyborg because you're standing on that step ladder.

    Now come down off of it so I can beat you with my cane (which also doesn't make me a cyborg)!

  • Please tell me the browser cache is screwing with me. Please tell me that my wife wants to have sex more often ( ok that isn't going to happen, I have a 12 and 15 year old) Do we really have Slashdot.org back?
  • An important element to this conversation is what we do and do not consider to make us human. There are plenty of people walking around with pacemakers, prosthetic limbs, and metal in their skeletal structures. We don't question their humanity, and yet by definition they are 'cyborg.' If I have a contact lens, or hell a surgically implanted visual augmentation system, will my humanity come into question? Will it change who I am? If I walk around with a device implanted in my stomach that tells me how many c
  • I also posted this on O'reilly's site.

    Edit: After thinking about it a bit, having the device as another "person" that everybody interacts with might be a way around somebody pulling out of a social interaction to check something on Google.

    There are some things where a "better interface" would allow technology to slide into the background. A simple example is a good GPS unit with great voice recognition rather than having to type in a start and end destination. Maybe with a see through display on your
  • If we extend the definition to technology that is not tightly integrated with the body, then we've been cyborgs since we started using stone tools. Modern humans couldn't survive without hardware - I don't think that a clear line can be drawn between sticks and wheels, wheels and engines, or engines and microcomputers.

  • It's because the "internet of things" is a terrible idea that, for a very marginal benefit, opens up tons of things to security issues where before there were none. Also, I'm not a cyborg.

: is not an identifier

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