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Giddy-Up: Half a Century of Cyborgs

Science Not Fiction
By Kyle Munkittrick
Oct 2, 2010 1:08 AMNov 20, 2019 1:37 AM


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To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the word "cyborg," Tim Maly of Quiet Babylon is running a 50-post tumblr of quotations and articles about, well, cyborgs. The first post gives us the space-oriented (and rather wordy) origin of the term:

For the exogenously extended organizational complex functioning as an integrated homeostatic system unconsciously, we propose the term “cyborg”.

- Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline Cyborgs and Space (ASTRONAUTICS, Issue 13 September, 1960)

Maly isn't curating some collection of pop-culture quotations and obvious academic allusions; you won't find any hackneyed paeans to Ghost in the Shell or Donna Haraway among his gallery of cybernetics. Instead, he's drawn some very strange and disorienting passages from the more curious corners of the web. Luminaries such as Kevin Kelly, Jamais Cascio, Annalee Newitz and Ryan North have their own contributions. If you want to have your understanding of cyborgs put on its ear, I recommend you give each of the linked essays, articles, and even cartoons a read. After reading through his collection thus far, one idea kept bubbling to the fore of my brain: Despite the past half-century of advancements--be they technological, medical, social, or political--the cyborg is still the creature of our future. The term "cyborg" was originally coined with the goal of helping us understand how to explore deep space. If space is the final frontier, then cyborgs are the last cowboys. Forever astride that line between scout and outcast, they embody our blurred boundaries, always chasing the next new horizon.

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