A cyborg (short for “cybernetic organism”) is a theoretical or fictional being with both organic and biomechatronic parts. The term was coined in 1960 by Manfred Clynes and Nathan S. Kline. D. S. Halacy’s Cyborg: Evolution of the Superman in 1965 featured an introduction which spoke of a “new frontier” that was “not merely space, but more profoundly the relationship between ‘inner space’ to ‘outer space’ – a bridge…between mind and matter.” The term cyborg is not the same thing as bionic and often applied to an organism that has restored function or enhanced abilities due to the integration of some artificial component or technology that relies on some sort of feedback. While cyborgs are commonly thought of as mammals, they might also conceivably be any kind of organism and the term “Cybernetic organism” has been applied to networks, such as road systems, corporations and governments, which have been classed as such. The term can also apply to micro-organisms which are modified to perform at higher levels than their unmodified counterparts. It is hypothesized that cyborg technology will form a part of the future human evolution. In popular culture, some cyborgs may be represented as visibly mechanical (e.g. the Cybermen in the Doctor Who franchise or The Borg from Star Trek or Darth Vader from Star Wars); or as almost indistinguishable from humans (e.g. the Terminators from the Terminator films, the “Human” Cylons from the re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica etc.) The 1970s television series The Six Million Dollar Man featured one of the most famous fictional cyborgs, referred to as a bionic man; the series was based upon a novel by Martin Caidin titled Cyborg. Cyborgs in fiction often play up a human contempt for over-dependence on technology, particularly when used for war, and when used in ways that seem to threaten free will. Cyborgs are also often portrayed with physical or mental abilities far exceeding a human counterpart (military forms may have inbuilt weapons, among other things).
About the Author: Matt Artz
Matt Artz is an anthropologist, artist, and activist who advocates for the responsible design of human-centered technologies. He is the Head of Product & Experience at Cloudshadow Consulting, the Founder and Principal Researcher at Azimuth Labs, and the Founder and Career Coach at Anthro to UX. His current business and design anthropology research focuses on the benefits and risks of consumer DNA testing. To learn more about his research, you can watch his TEDx Talk titled Are DNA Tests Safe?. You can follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Spotify. For media inquiries, contact Matt.