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A Companion to the Philosophy of Technology by Vincent F. Hendricks, Stig Andur Pedersen, Jan Kyrre Berg Olsen Friis

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Chapter 25

Cyborgs

EVAN SELINGER

Cyborg discourse is inter-disciplinary. As the opening to The Cyborg Handbook quite appropriately notes:

Cyborgology has become a central concept for academics, not only people in science and technology studies, but also political theorists, military historians, literary critics, human factors engineers, computer scientists, medical sociologists, psychologists, and cultural observers of all types.

To this list we can add literature and film; in these contexts cyborg imagery cuts across “high” and “low” cultural presentations.

Many of the current discussions touch upon themes that can be traced back to ideas that were germinating over half a century ago. In particular, conversations attributable to Norbert Wiener, Manfred Clynes and Nathan Kline feature prominently. During the 1940s and 1950s, Wiener founded the discipline of cybernetics – a term which can be traced back to the Greek kybernetes (), which means steersman. The central cybernetic theme is that human, animal and machine behavior can be explained by the same principles of communication, control, learning and feedback. As Peter Galison notes, Wiener’s Second World War work on the AA Predictor – an airplane designed according to cybernetic principles that was supposed to anticipate an enemy pilot’s movement in order to shoot him down – proved decisive for Wiener’s attempt to create a “new ...

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