I continue to read and think about Cyborg Selves by Jeannine Thweat-Bates (JTB). Here are a few notes on Chapter 1 titled “The Cyborg Manifesto”. In it, she informs us that the thinking about the future posthuman tends toward two separate visions, the cyborg and the transhumanist. The people who actively dream about and promote the transhumanist future tend to stay true to their Enlightenment roots. That would be expected from techno geeks. The contrasting Cyborg vision was launched by Donna J. Haraway with her “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century,” in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reivention of Nature (New York, 1991). I suppose with this we are moving more into a postmodern (fuzzy term I know) consideration.
Haraway discusses the blurring and crossing of several boundaries made possible by the march of technology: human/animal; human/machine; and the physical/nonphysical. The second is obvious and the first thing that pops into mind when thinking of our future. I had never considered the first, that we would and are augmenting our animal friends and changing them also. The last one has to do with the fact that as technology gets better, it becomes invisible. JTB quotes Haraway who says
Our best machines are made of sunshine; they are all light and clean because they are nothing but signals, electromagnetic waves, a section of spectrum, and these machines are eminently portable, mobile….People are nowhere near so fluid, being both material and opaque.” (Haraway page 153).
In these discussions and considerations, redefining and revisioning the role and even the definition of ‘nature’ is unavoidable. To those of us who have not moved out of enlightenment and its associated science and technology, nature is a given that is there to be exploited and utilized. JTB informs us in the quote below that the thinking promoted by Haraway and the turn to the Cyborg future see things differently.
Nature herself becomes a coyote trickster-figure, an active participant in humanity’s technoscientific investigations and not at all the passive resource and recipient of human construction previously presumed. In this way, Haraway maintains the importance of material reality as something to which our conceptual categories must conform ---a redefined objectivity which becomes a necessary component of her cyborg arguments, for it is the observable, material existence of cyborgs which forces the redrawing of our ontological boundaries in acknowledgement (Cyborg Selves page 29).
We are becoming hybrids.
Cyborg hybridity challenges not just notions of ontological boundaries and natural givens, but also the religious structures, narratives, symbols, and beliefs which frequently and authoritatively articulate and undergird those notions. (Cyborg Selves page 32).
If we are to be responsible and true to our better "natures" ( a little irony here) and our desire to be good, then we must consider the above so that we can survive and then thrive in the future.