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Natural-Born Cyborgs

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Andy Clark, in Natural-Born Cyborgs, offers an extended argument that technology's impact on and intertwining with ordinary biological human life is not to be feared, either psychologically or morally. Clark offers several key concepts towards his line of reasoning. Clark argues that a human being thinks and reasons based on the biological brain and body dynamically linked with the culture and technological tools transparently accessible to the human. This form of thinking and reasoning develops new "thinking systems" that which over time become second nature thoughts and reasons and are the basis of even newer "thinking systems." It is a repetitive cycle that continues forever being built upon previous systems. Clark argues that humans are natural-born cyborgs based on the dynamic link, the constant two-way traffic between the biological processes of the human and the technological tools that aid the thinking process. Hence, these tools are apart of the thinking process, and therefore, the person. In essence, the human brain, as Clark keenly puts it, is an "incomplete cognitive system," (Clark, 189) and is only complete when both sides of the link are inextricably merged.

Clark continues by reasoning that the future technology and its dynamic link to the biological human processes is to be expected, as this has been the case throughout human history -- it is human nature for future mergers with new technology to occur based on the continuous cycle since language came into existence that Clark recognizes. Clark argues that this merger should not be feared and the development of the technology not be hindered in any way. Although, he does strongly warn that the human race needs to be cautious during this time of merging new technologies with the human body and brain. There are several concerns (opponents' fears) that Clark mentions, though, brief and less complex self admittedly. In each line of defense, there is a general underlying theme that develops. This theme he portrays is a drive to increase society's awareness of the merger of self and technology. He suggests that this awareness start with truly understanding one's self and then understanding one's interactions with technology in daily life, as he gracefully captured here, "Know Thyself; Know Thy Technologies" (Clark, 183). Clark's strongest defense to not fear the unions of new technology with the biological body is one he is most familiar with, the fear of disembodiment. The example he uses is of a boy trapped in isolation at a computer or video game. Clark asserts that isolation is a matter of perspective, and that as it appears the boy is alone, he is actually spending quality time in his chosen community that is brought together only through the power of technology. He contends that this may expand our embodied awareness,

In a strange way, we may even come to better appreciate the value and significance of our normal bodily presence by exploring such alternatives. Not disembodiment, then, so much as a deeper understanding of why the body matters and of the space of possible bodies and perspectives. Not isolation so much as a wider and less geocentric kind of community. (Clark, 194)

The argument strategy that Clark employs is similar to a critiquing strategy where he clearly defines his opponent's concern(s), usually by the use of a real-world example. After he has made the reader well aware of his opponent's concern(s), he generally uses the same example to tactfully pitch his proposal as a solution to eliminate or neutralize the concern. The proposal is based on one of two sources, his personal beliefs or observations and theories based on his research and comprehensive knowledge of humans, technology, and society. In some instances, he will offer multiple proposals to strengthen his defense and allow the reader to understand there a several possibilities.

It appears from the heavy citation of Daniel Dennett's works that Clark uses Dennett's philosophy of technology and human interaction with technology as a springboard for many of his own thoughts. The two seem to share the notion of a lack of 'self', a lack of an inner cognitive system that makes a human being who and what they are. In relation, both would agree that 'self' is a collection of biological, neural and bodily and technological processes that cannot complete the system alone and there is no process or component with a constant final say. Furthermore, the collection of these processes defines 'self'



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