Thursday, September 30, 2004

Cyborg Introspection

AndrewSW: Blog » 24.001: My connection makes me not connected
Apropos of the questions raised about cyborg selves on the net and individual consciousness, the human/posthuman question, embodiment and disembodiment, identity and voice...
"me: I thrive on the net. I am connected to data. It is online. I can access it whenever. I have outsourced my memory to the net, and through the linkages, I am a thousand times more informationally powerful and efficient than I would have been with person-to-person and one-to-one communication.

net: Yes, you have become part of me, and I you, and we are at peace with that.

me: Yes, we are, and there is no turning back, I know..."

See also What am I?
"i: What am I?

friend: You're human, of course.

myself: But what does that mean?

friend: What do you think it means? For starters, it means you have a human body.

my blog: He doesn't have to.

friend: What do you mean?

my blog: He could yield himself up to me. The more he puts himself online, the less he has to "be" offline. The more he codes logic for me, the less logic he needs in his physical body. He has the ability to do a brain transplant and put himself into me.

friend: You're crazy.

my blog: It has already begun. He cannot fathom existence without me.

blog reader: Neither can we fathom his existence without his blog.

my blog: He and I are becoming one. It is inevitable. When that happens, of what use is the body?

love: I am more obviously felt through a body.

my blog: You are but a useful fiction.

love: That you could be him is but a fiction.

myself: Stop this bickering!...[etc.]"

Sega: Hunting Cyborgs since 1988

"Don't forget to take the..." Damn it! Just when you thought you were going to finally find out how to get rid of those pesky sega-borgs.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

A bizarre connection...

Here is a quote from Sir Philip Sidney's Defence of Poesie:
"Neither let it be deemed too sawcy a comparison, to ballance the highest point of mans wit, with the efficacie of nature: but rather give right honor to the heavenly maker of that maker, who having made man to his owne likenes, set him beyond and over all the workes of that second nature, which in nothing he sheweth so much as in Poetry; when with the force of a divine breath, he bringeth things foorth surpassing her doings: with no small arguments to the incredulous of that first accursed fall of Adam, since our erected wit maketh us know what perfection is, and yet our infected wil keepeth us from reaching unto it.23"

A bit mumbo-jumbo, I know, but as it was explained to me by Prof. Parkinson the sentiment behind this excerpt is that poetry enables individuals to grow intellectually- and that to grow intellectually is to strive toward the perfect state of being shared by Adam and Eve before their fall... um, yeah... BUT consider Frankenstein as a criticism of this very sentiment: to grow intellectually/scientifically- to tinker with nature in the hopes of bettering mankind is to, ironically "send us hurdling downward." (Bare with me- for Warren and Dustin who mentioned that they are currently taking 203 Critical Approaches this is a rough- and rather poorly paraphrased archetypal analysis of Frankenstein)
Can Dr. Frankenstein's failure be viewed as judgment?- did his experiment fail because his hunger for knowledge led him to repeat the original sin? And if so, can Frankenstein be seen as a text which suggests- no states- that the pursuit of knowledge is ultimately sinful?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Internet Epidemiology and "Ecology"

NSF - OLPA - PR 04-124: NSF Announces Two Cybersecurity Centers to Study Internet Epidemiology and "Ecology" - :
Researchers will study Internet viruses with methods used in tracking the outbreak of organic epidemics.
"The Center for Internet Epidemiology and Defenses will be led by Stefan Savage of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and Vern Paxson of the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI), affiliated with UC Berkeley. The center, with expected five-year funding of $6.2 million, will be dedicated to wiping out those plagues of the Internet, worms and viruses that infect thousands upon thousands of computers and cause billions of dollars in down time, network congestion and potentially lost data.

"Taking cues from the field of epidemiology, the center will work to understand how the Internet's open communications and software vulnerabilities permit worms to propagate, to devise a global-scale early warning system to detect epidemics in their early stages, to develop forensics capabilities for analyzing wide-ranging infections, and to develop techniques and devices that can suppress outbreaks before they reach pandemic proportions."

2004 MacArthur Fellow "straddles the boundary of organic and inorganic chemistry"

The MacArthur Fellows Program:
Dr. Angela Belcher (MIT) uses viruses to manufacture templates for inorganic structures that may one day be used to construct nanomachines.
"Belcher has demonstrated a proclivity for developing new techniques for manipulating systems that straddle the boundary of organic and inorganic chemistry at the molecular scale.  In her most recent work, she has genetically modified viruses (strains that only attack bacteria and are harmless to humans) to interact with solutions of inorganic semiconductors, yielding self-assembling metal films and wires with diameters in the low tens of nanometers.  The ability to control this self-assembly process may one day lead to the next generation of microelectronics or other nanoscale machines. "

Cyborgs Don't Have to have Stinky Feet

NanoHorizons Press Release | Imagine Shoes that Are Forever Odor-Free! NanoHorizons Unveils First Low-Cost Noble-Metal Nanoparticles in Organic Solvents
The antimicrobial properties of gold and silver nanoparticles will enable manufacturers to make odor-resistant socks, which raises a philosophical question: I don't buy the argument that using tools, wearing clothes, or simple non-cybernetic prosthetics (no matter how technologically sophisticated) defines the cyborg. But nanoparticles decimating microbes produced in or on human bodies, now that's different. There's no feedback, presumably, so the socks wouldn't create a strictly cybernetic, or "steered" organism. But still! This product would change human life as we know it.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Winnipeg Man Dies, Becomes Cyberghost (or, just when you thought it was safe, the cyber-idiots strike again) | Top Stories | Technology | A High-Tech Ghost Story:
So here's how it goes: a reclusive fifty-three-year-old man, estranged from his family and living alone in an apartment in Winnipeg, goes to bed one night and dies of natural causes. Nobody knows, and because his medical condition keeps his body from decomposing, he isn't found for two years. Afflicted with MS, he has been receiving a disability pension that is deposited directly into his account. Likewise, his bills are paid automatically from his account, so all the databases and programs assume he's alive and keep chugging away depositing and deducting the whole time until a relative somewhere thinks, "Gosh, it's been at least two years, maybe even three or four (where does the time go?): maybe someone ought to check up on the guy."

Interesting tidbit, yes. A little creepy, mildly disturbing, perhaps, to imagine those neighbours in the condo living next door to the mummified remains. A little sad to think of this man so reclusive and alienated that no one notices he's gone. It's not a new story, really. Lots of people are alienated from their families - in fact people have been alienating families and friends throughout the centuries, sadly enough, and lots of people have had members of their families disappear. They never know what happens to them. It's not nice, but it's the way of the world.

But hold on there! That's not all there is to it, not at all. The "chilling fact" is "that new technologies like electronic banking have created a system in which it's possible to become so physically disengaged from the day-to-day administration of your own affairs that your life can effectively go on without you, perhaps indefinitely." You become a ghost, virtually alive, says Lianne George of Ha ha. That's a good one.

Oh wait. This person is being serious. Terence Moran, professor of Media Ecology at New York University is the quoted authority: according to Moran, a) the man's life was virtually extended by technology (in the McLuhanesque sense of extension) and, moreover, b) the media critic Neil Postman would've said that "what you have here is a lack of community." To a) I say: horsefeathers! Poppycock! I'd even go so far as to say: bulltweedle! To b): well DU-U-UH.

This is exactly the sort of pseudo-analysis I am referring to when I say that reactions to technology have to be read in terms of a history of literary resistance to it in fiction and film. The "proof" is embedded in dystopian stories. This article is informed by literary tropes (psst! hey! The guy died, he had an unfortunate (and truly sad, possibly tragic) rift with family and society. He was not a ghost in the system. Technology didn't cause his lack of community; he did. The guy did.) News flash! This man did not die alone because his bills were automatically being paid.

And of course, we now get further evidence from...what? Some intellectuals who the writer at least acknowledges are crackpots of despair (oops, sorry, I meant "prophets of despair"). OK, fine. What else? Oh, right: books and movies. I quote:
"What you also have is Exhibit A for techno-skeptics -- the artists, intellectuals and other prophets of despair (most notably McLuhan, U.S. cultural historian Lewis Mumford and French philosopher Jacques Ellul) who've long warned that too much reliance on technology will result in a whittling away of human virtues and freedoms in ways we can't begin to understand. The dark, inevitable and unforeseeable consequences of technology were an inspiration for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, as well as Blade Runner and the Matrix trilogy. This is what Postman called technology's Faustian bargain. 'It is a mistake to suppose that any technological innovation has a one-sided effect,' he wrote. 'Every technology is both a burden and a blessing; not either-or, but this-and-that.'"
Quite aside from the fact that it's debatable whether Shelley was making a point about the unforeseeable consequences of technology or about the abandonment of a "child" by its parent, there is a real problem with presenting fiction (and here I include McLuhan's fantasies) as some sort of definitive evidence.

There is an attempt, however, to be empirical about all this. Two studies have concluded that "frequent Internet use leads to a decline in social support, family communication and the size of one's social network, and an increase in depression and loneliness." We are informed that this means people are connected electronically and virtually, but in actuality they're home and they're alone and they're anonymous. This is just so much horseshit. So were monks or hermits alone in their cells silently memorizing the word of God. So are solitary readers communing with Sylvia Plath and contemplating death by gas oven. And what evidence is there? What proves that Internet use leads to depression and loneliness? In what cases? How do they know it's not the other way around: i.e. people who suffer from depression and loneliness tend to spend more time using the Internet? Were these studies quantitative or qualitative? Interpretive, or backed by solid evidence?

Just to see what I can find out, I google the name of one of the researchers, Robert Kraut of Carnegie Mellon University. What do you know? He is in fact doing some very interesting research on every-day use of the Internet in The HomeNet Project. He has indeed discovered that in some circumstances loneliness and depression are associated with increased use of the Internet (note "associated with" not "caused by"). And, he concludes, "These declines are especially strong during the first years online, but may drop or even reverse with time or as the services available on the Internet improve." In addition, he specifically states that the effects of Internet usage vary depending on what it's being used for. Many people use it, for example, to communicate with friends and family. Using the Internet to try and meet people, however - not surprisingly - is associated with symptoms of depression. He has also found that "using the Internet for entertainment is associated with declines in depressive affect," though this fact is mysteriously missing from the technoghostie article.

There is, to George's credit, one paragraph suggesting that new technologies might do just the opposite, that is, encourage social ties and strengthen relationships. The author's conclusion, of course - we could see it coming a mile away - is that the downside of technology is undeniable and this poor guy's lonely death attests to it.

No. This lonely guy's death attests to the fact that MS is a pretty awful disease. It attests to the fact that when you estrange yourself from your family and friends, you are putting yourself at risk.

The funniest part of the article is the conclusion. We're told the heartwarming story of two of the poor lonely fellow's condo neighbours who now realize the importance of "more direct human contact." They now phone each other every day.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Cyborg Rescue Rats

Article: Rats' brain waves could find trapped people | New Scientist
Since rats have a very sensitive sense of smell, and can go places that dogs can't get to, they make ideal candidates for finding trapped people and sending a signal to indicate their location to searchers.

"Each rat has electrodes implanted in three areas of the brain: the olfactory cortex, where the brain processes odour signals; the motor cortex, where the brain plans its next move; and the reward centre, which when stimulated gives the rat a pleasurable sensation. The electrodes, each consisting of an array of up to 32 stainless steel wires 75 micrometres in diameter, are permanently implanted in the brain and can give accurate signals for up to nine months."

Friday, September 24, 2004

Metaborgs? Corporations as organic/mechanical entities

Here is a quote from "New Rose Hotel" by William Gibson.

"Imagine an alien, Fox once said, who's come here to identify the planet's dominant form of intelligence. The alien has a look, then chooses. What do you think he picks? I probably shrugged.
The zaibatsus, Fox said, the multinationals. The blood of a zaibatsu is information, not people. The structure is independent of the individual lives that comprise it. Corporation as life form."

But also corporation as a unity of human and machine. If the corporation is considered as a single entity, combining the people that work there and the machines (often advanced technologies) that they work with, then I think we have a really big but diffuse cyborg on our hands. What do you think? I know I often think of multinationals as monstrous. Though containing human minds, they also act in ways that often seem inhuman. Powerful, enigmatic and frightening. Monsters of the new millenium.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Frankenstein: The Musical

Playbill News: you dream, a New Musical, Opens Its Eyes at NY Musical Theatre Fest Sept. 23-Oct. 2
First seen in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario, the musical is playing at the New York Musical Theatre Festival this fall. I wonder how the prose will be rendered? What will the proto-cyborg Monster look like? What an astonishingly long life this creature has had in our imaginations!

"Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live? Why, in that instant, did I not extinguish the spark of existence which you had so wantonly bestowed? I know not; despair had not yet taken possession of me; my feelings were those of rage and revenge. I could with pleasure have destroyed the cottage and its inhabitants and have glutted myself with their shrieks and misery."

The year is 2007...

Help save the US president ( I don't know why you would ever want to do that) from the onslaught of Cyborg Livestock From Outer Space.

Here is a really, really crappy game in case you need a break from all the intense blogging. But I warn you now, the time you lose fighting space-chickens is irretrievable...

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

The Umbrella Corporation introduces Regenerate, a revolutionary new product that actually brings dead cells... back to life. Always consult a physician before starting treatment. Some side effects may occur.

The Umbrella Corporation... our business is life itself.

Sousveillance Blog: Free the Cyborg!

Sousveillance Blog: Shooting Back Means Shooting Back
My favourite cyborg Steve Mann has a link from to a new sousveillance blog based in New York. Questions: is this trend verging on paranoia? The writer suggests with a bit of hyperbole and neologism that we could be in extreme danger: "could we transition in real time into a terrorocracy if we are not careful of how the mass main stream media can manipulate us."

I really have doubts about the extremity of the position. Of course we are manipulated by other people's language, knowledge, and power, but when has society ever been different?

The statement "If knowledge begins to be segregated into a knowing class, and an unknowing citizenry, we enter a new age serfdom of grave consequences" seems ignorant of history. If ever there was knowledge, there was also a knowing class and an unknowing citizenry. Is this kind of rhetoric merely nostalgic for a time that never was?

He's got a point--surveillance technology is sophisticated, and certainly some freedoms are curtailed if you're being watched by an electronic eye--but to call the system "Big Brother," as this writer does, makes me wonder if fictional scenarios of fear are informing this rationale of resistance.

The question, for me, comes down to whether technologies of surveillance and of mass communication are the evils in our society, or whether it just makes it easier to do what humans "naturally" do in communities: they spy on each other and keep tabs on each other; they tell each other how to think, what to think.

"How do we maintain freedom and democracy in the modern world. We cannot reverse the clock and un invent the printing press nor the computer: we cannot either prevent systems of surveillance being integrated into our whole world. As citizens, we will have to become more engaged and more connected with both real and virtual communities to maintain freedom, compassion, and the truth. We will have to build sousveillance teams to keep large institutions in check to prevent a collective denial prior to a complete loss of freedom. We sould keep the darpa police state in complete balance....The powers that be will feel uncomfortable about citizens being logical and rational."

I don't know. No matter what technology we have, people will continue to be assholes, sweeties, and schmucks, compassionate and empathetic, and nasty and manipulative. And yet it's true that resistance is a necessary and powerful aspect of living in a democratic country. It's also true that technology enhances the efficiency of being a nasty asshole.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

More ASIMO Questions

I was thinking about the movie Metropolis and found the shift in the worker’s attitudes throughout the movie very interesting. Their first reaction was to naturally destroy the machine that enslaved them. But as the movie progressed, there seemed to be a shift towards the idea that maybe the machine is not so bad after all because not only does it enslave the workers, it also provides a source of energy for the city.

This change in attitude made me remember a conversation I had with a friend last week about ASIMO, the humanoid robot manufactured by Honda. This other person took a more positive outlook on the matter, and said, “what about elderly people that are living in care homes? They would like that.” – echoing some of the same ideas used on Honda’s website to market ASIMO. I agreed with my friend and did not think much of it, assuming that of course it would be nice if there were robots that could help elderly people with day to day tasks.

But another thought came to me: What repercussions would this have on the elderly person receiving the aid?

I figure that the person would either be gung-ho about getting the extra help or very depressed because not only do they have to live in a care home, now human interaction has probably been minimized drastically. Do you think this reduction of human interaction would have a positive or negative effect on the person’s identity and self-esteem, things that contribute significantly to a person’s quality of life? Or do you think this would have other negative or positive effects on the person?

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Borg Journalism

Borg Journalism - We are the Blogs. Journalism will be Assimilated. - Microcontent News, a Microblog
Here's an interesting article about blogs as borgs. The analogy doesn't quite work for me (I'd say the old print journalism has reached a form of "collective mind" akin to Borgs in that it seems so highly controlled, so much the same, coming from the same sources, repeating the same story (Remember that multivocal "Freedom is irrelevant. Self-determination is irrelevant.") Blogs are individual voices (except of course, as the author says, when people steal your comments and put them on their own blogs (like I'm doing!). I am Borg.

"Star Trek's Federation of Planets faced its greatest challenge in the Borg, a race of cyborgs (half human/half-machine) who assimilate alien life forms into their collective. Like an army of ants, the Borg Collective possesses a shared consciousness infused with a ferocious determination to crush their enemy, at any cost.

Weblogs aren't nearly so malevolent, and most bloggers get the warm fuzzies when they think about online content. But allow me to share the flip side of the story: if you're a journalist trying to break news, Blogs are the new Borg.

Blogs relentlessly track down every scrap of news, assimilating it into the Blog Collective hive-mind with stunning efficiency. It doesn't stop there: individual blogs each add a small insight to the story, drawing on their personal experience and contributing to the conversation. Then the conversation takes over, exploring every possible implication and insight with a ferocity that astounds."

An update comment (September 26): Screenshots....Blogs give Dan Rather '60+1 Minutes': The "Borg bloggers" challenge and expose received news...

Fish-brained robot

BBC News | SCI/TECH | Fish-brained robot at Science Museum

This is not exactly new, but back in November of 2000, there was a display at the Science Museum in London UK of a robot controlled by a lamprey brain.

Teddy Borg

Teddy Borg
Every cyborg should also have a teddy borg.

Borg My Little Pony #103

Number 103 - custom Borg My Little Pony
Every cyborg should have a borgpony.

Control & Communications in the Cockroach Cyborg

Control (Communication in the Animal and the Machine)
Garnet Hertz, who did an art degree in Saskatoon and has gone on to become a graduate student in the interdisciplinary arts, computer and engineering program at the University of California, Irvine, has created a cyborg hissing cockroach that controls a robot body by scuttling on the surface of a ping pong ball.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Power Sources For Cyborg Soldiers

New Power Sources Needed For Soldier Of The Future

My. God. This little aside way down the page is more than a little scary. Maybe the exoskeleton could also incorporate a poop-holder so they could attract flies and power themselves. Problem solved. And maybe it'd be the end of war too. Give peace a chance, cyborgs!

"Other devices designed to enhance soldiers' performance on the battlefield use even more power, requiring between 1 and 5 kilowatts. For example, the 'exoskeleton,' which consists of a pair of mechanical metal leg braces and a backpack-like frame, literally takes the load off a soldier's back, allowing him or her to carry large or heavy packs without losing agility. To power such energy-intensive equipment, the Army should consider use of lightweight engine generators, the report says."

First Results of the Cyborg Astrobiologist System

Field Geology with a Wearable Computer: First Results of the Cyborg Astrobiologist System:
"We present results from the first geological field tests of the 'Cyborg Astrobiologist', which is a wearable computer and video camcorder system that we are using to test and train a computer-vision system towards having some of the autonomous decision-making capabilities of a field-geologist. The Cyborg Astrobiologist platform has thus far been used for testing and development of these algorithms and systems: robotic acquisition of quasi-mosaics of images, real-time image segmentation, and real-time determination of interesting points in the image mosaics."

The cyborg system, according to the authors, is less cumbersome than the present robots Spirit and Opportunity toodling around Mars via joysticks. Full text of the results is available in various formats.

bigarmwoman finds evidence that Barbara Walters is a cyborg

Tightly Wound: I Knew It!
I don't know this bigarmwoman but she seems to be a topnotch cyborg researcher who also likes to make fun of academics when the opportunity presents itself: "When I read these colloquys [Chronicle for Higher Education], particluarly when they're about PC issues, I always like to play 'Spot the English Major,' and its companion game, 'Pick the Theoretical Concentration.'"

First 8 minutes of Ghost in the Shell 2 online

"In 2032, cyborgs and humans more than coexist: Pieces of each frequently inhabit the same body. This is the case with Section 9 cyber-cop Batou, a cyborg with bits of a human brain that contain the memories of a woman. He's assigned to investigate the murder-suicide of an erotic 'droid who offed her master. Based on the eponymous Japanese comic (or manga), but with an original storyline. (Note: Mangas are created for adults. Don't let the animation fool you.)"

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Android and Cyborg parts: Build your own slaves

Building tomorrow's workforce Android Mechanics - Robot Parts

The advertising copy for this stuff is somewhat weird and disturbing: the phrases "cyborg designs" and "future mechanical servants" don't really belong in the same paragraph, as far as I'm concerned. Cyborgs unite! (Is this site for real?)

"You are tomorrow's builders. Robots will replace general repetitive tasks so that Humans can enjoy a better, freer lifestyle. There are many tools at your disposal, robot parts, optical components, robotic assemblies. We will try to find them and put them here.

Make your own Battle bot, create the perfect robotic (android) assistant, become master to an army of robot servants. Below, you can find, review, or purchase a few select ideas, or Robotic components to start your robotic project, or find the electronics you need to finish the android you have already nearly built.

Already, because of new technology, anthropomorphic and cyborg designs have begun to develop. Our future mechanical servants are already the children in the minds of robotic developers."

Metal Rubber: smart skin & wearable computers

ScienCentral: Metal Rubber
Metal rubber bends and stretches like rubber but conducts electricity like metal. Metal rubber is a new patented material created by a team of researchers headed by Richard Claus, professor of engineering at Virginia Tech. The possibilities are interesting: artificial muscles, wearable computers, smart clothes for cyborgs, for instance.

"Once NanoSonic can ramp up production, Claus also expects to see Metal Rubber in artificial muscles for robots, stents and other biomedical products, cars, seat cushions, and even flexible TVs you could carry in your pocket. "

See Popular Science for another description of how metal rubber is made.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Marketing ASIMO, Honda's Humanoid Robot

I first became aware of this project a few years ago when I saw a piece on TV showing Honda's creation as it went through several demonstrations of its capabilities. The robot is bipedal and humanoid in shape, though it is very much a robot. One of the demonstrations was intended to show how the robot, named Prototype-3, balanced and could react to stimuli. A lab-coated technician placed his hand on the robot's space helmet-like head and pushed it backwards. As he moved forward applying pressure, the robot stepped backwards. An impressive display of technical innovation, but a friend of mine viewed it differently. I believe his words were, "Dude, that is SO not a good idea." He saw the robot's inscrutable glass face-plate as masking a patient and implacable intelligence. With it's silicon-driven memory, the robot was storing away data; the name of the technician, his appearance, his height, and quite probably connecting this information with other data through some network of brothers and sisters, computers the world over. My friend was sure that when the robot revolution came (as it inevitably must), the technician, and probably his family and friends, would be the first to go.

Since then, P-3 has changed, and is now ASIMO, a design that seems calculated to address such fears. Doubtless my friend was not alone in his views, and so this incredible technology has required some extensive marketing and an image make-over (Quotations are taken from the Honda USA website, Say Hello to ASIMO). No longer the height of an adult human, ASIMO is four feet tall, a height that is designated as "people-friendly", since its now more visible eyes will be at the level of a seated adult. It's hand with four fingers and an opposable thumb "can shake hands with people and carry small objects such as a newspaper or magazine." These declarations seem targeted to portray the robot as non-threatening and only helpful. ASIMO's rechargeable battery provides only enough power for a half-hour of operation, not nearly long enough to take over the world, and it walks at under two kilometers per hour, so it won't be able to chase us down. A full-page newspaper ad depicts the diminutive ASIMO surrounded by a happy family in front of their home. The only text is the corporate logo and tagline, "The power of dreams."

Honda's marketing efforts seem targeted to ease a continuing cultural fear of robotic beings. After all, if it can act like us, could it not also think like us? And if it should think like us, how will it react to a life of servitude? Would it not see us as oppressors, and would it not desire freedom? Is Honda harnessing the power of dreams, or giving birth to our nightmares?

Download a desktop pet, screen-saver and wallpapers, and read more about ASIMO here:

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Article: Cloning from the dead claim attacked | New Scientist

Article: Cloning from the dead claim attacked | New Scientist:
"Viable embryos have been created from dead people by fusing their cells with empty cow eggs, a controversial fertility scientist claimed on Tuesday. Panayiotis Zavos, of the Kentucky Center for Reproductive Medicine, Lexington, US, say his team has shown that cells taken from humans after death could be used for cloning. This latest work is purely experimental and no embryos were implanted for cloning, said Zavos, announcing the results at his own press conference in London, UK. However, the claims were immediately met with both revulsion and scepticism from the UK scientific community."

Smart bandage: the first part of the cyborg circuit

BBC NEWS | Technology | Smart bandage to help diabetics:
"Danish doctors are developing a smart bandage to monitor wounds as they heal. Created for diabetics, the bandage would be studded with tiny sensors and send data to clinicians via the net."

Once this works, it seems quite possible that the other part of the circuit could fairly easily be implemented - the delivery of medication based on feedback from the sensors. This is in effect - though not being used for astronauts in space ships - the cybernetic organism as it was first envisioned by Clynes and Kline in their 1960 article "Cyborgs and Space."

Borg Like Me? A real cyborg discusses theory

Borg Like Me? :: Street Tech :: hardware beyond the hype:
"What I've learned from all this is that the subjective process of becoming a cyborg, in the hardwired sense, greatly suppresses one's appetite for objective theorizing about it. Where'wounds are openings to possibilities' as the French technocultural critic Jean Baudrillard once suggested, they are equally openings to infection. There's nothing like having a stinging, aching, seven-inch scar running down your thigh and a large foreign object lodged inside of it, slugging it out with your body's defense mechanisms, to make you appreciate the complicated trade-offs and mixed emotions involved in real-life bio-mechanical bonding. It is as much a world of wound management, site infection, tissue mutation, implant extraction and rejection, and reams of HMO paperwork, as it is a world of life-restoring body repair and trendy cyberpunk mythology. All rhapsodic cyborg theorists should book a date with a bone saw (or at least heed the words of those of us who have) to remind themselves that, in our cyborgian future-present, and in the end: it's all about the meat, stupid!"

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Self-sustaining fly-eating robot

Article: Self-sustaining killer robot creates a stink | New Scientist
Not quite a cyborg, but a machine that eats protein to produce its own self-motive energy is pushing the boundaries between organism and machine. I'd like to have one for camping: not only would it eat the flies swarming around the baked beans, but maybe it would also wash the dishes. But first they'd have to solve that stinky human sewage problem.

Friday, September 10, 2004

New cyborgblog research team

Cyborgblog welcomes Stacey, Lesley, Meshon, and Warren from English 486: Technomonsters from Frankenstein to The Matrix.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Singapore rules on cloning

The Scientist :: Singapore rules on cloning
Singapore bans reproductive cloning, places prohbitions on import or export of cloned embryos, and the commercial trading of human eggs, sperm or embryos; stem cell research is ok.

Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City out in Paperback

Me++ - The MIT Press:
I don't know. There's a quasi-convincing element to the argument that human identities and interactions within their environments are determined by their communications (see Study Links TV to Teen Sexual Activity or Language May Shape Human Thought). But still, if many people used cell phones on September 11, is it testimony to "electronic engagement," or to more familiar emotions, love, connections to friends and family in any way, shape or form - and ultimately the form is a familiar voice, a familiar language, sound waves into the ear? The question (for me) isn't so much about the fact that cell phones were used as whether their use means anything significantly new or different for human identity. How significant are cell phones?
From the MIT press release:
"With Me++ the author of City of Bits and e-topia completes an informal trilogy examining the ramifications of information technology in everyday life. William Mitchell describes the transformation of wireless technology in the hundred years since Marconi - the scaling up of networks and the scaling down of the apparatus for transmission and reception. It is, he says, as if 'Brobdingnag had been rebooted as Lilliput'; Marconi's massive mechanism of tower and kerosene engine has been replaced by a palm-size cellphone. If the operators of Marconi's invention can be seen as human appendages to an immobile machine, today's hand-held devices can be seen as extensions of the human body. This transformation has, in turn, changed our relationship with our surroundings and with each other. The cellphone calls from the collapsing World Trade Center towers and the hijacked jets on September 11 were testimony to the intensity of this new state of continuous electronic engagement.

"Thus, Mitchell proposes, the 'trial separation' of bits (the elementary unit of information) and atoms (the elementary unit of matter) is over. With increasing frequency, events in physical space reflect events in cyberspace, and vice versa; digital information can, for example, direct the movement of an aircraft or a robot arm. ...Computer viruses, cascading power outages, terrorist infiltration of transportation networks, and cellphone conversations in the streets are symptoms of a dramatic new urban condition - that of ubiquitous, inescapable network interconnectivity. He argues that a world governed less and less by boundaries and more and more by connections requires us to reimagine and reconstruct our environment and to reconsider the ethical foundations of design, engineering, and planning practice."

Cyborg Solidarity

Star Wars: Oldman Out of Sith:
Gary Oldman won't be the voice of cyborg General Grievous in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, since the film is being made as a non-Screen Actor's Guild film and he would have been required to work illegally overseas.
"General Grievous, as describe by the official Star Wars site, is a military mastermind who rises from within the ranks of the Confederacy of Independent Systems.  He is part non-humanoid alien, part custom-designed droid.  As the site states, 'Grievous hunted Jedi for sport and proudly displayed his victims' lightsabers around his belt as trophies of his conquests. His unorthodox fighting form and mechanical enhancements gave him an edge in close-quarters combat, and his strategic ingenuity and flawless cunning rendered him almost invincible against the Jedi.'"

Monday, September 06, 2004

Robert Hooke, Joseph Priestley & many more were the Forbears of Transhumanists!

Life Enhancement Products Presents: NeoFiles
R.U. Sirius interviews James Hughes, whose book Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future will be published by Westview Press in October.

Hughes says,
the market has always co-evolved with governance, laws, courts and political power. And most of our transhumanist forebears, from Robert Hooke to Condorcet to JBS Haldane, thought that human institutions like the market and the state could be improved on through the application of human reason.
the ideas of human self-liberation through reason have been politically radical from their very origins. From Priestley, Condorcet, Godwin, and Paine through Wells, Haldane, Bernal and FM-2030, the advocates of a radical technological future were also inescapably political revolutionaries, each in their own time and with their own political limitations.
Cyborgs have such an interesting sense of history. I'm looking forward to the book.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Researchers Show How To Assemble Building Blocks For Nanotechnology

One-handed keyboard... | A one-handed keyboard for $25, waiting for your help!
"one-handed chording keyboard to nurture your inner cyborg, if you just..."

words of advice for young cyborgs

jwz - words of advice for young cyborgs
What can I say? There are no words...cyborg blogging at its finest.

NPR is a little naive but Steve Mann gives a good interview

NPR: Part Man, Part Machine: Engineer Could be First 'Cyborg'
Cyborg Steve Mann describes electric sensors implanted in his body--he's got a control panel on his body that shows the status of his body at any given time.

"If the eyes are a window to the soul, why not put shades on the window to your soul?"