Cyborgs

“A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction.”

This week we took a look at articles by Donna Haraway, Jasbir Puar, and Joshua Scannell which provided an in depth look about the concepts of the cyborg and how that relates to intersectionality. As quoted above, Donna Haraway purports that a cyborg is a creature that has a foot in the fiction realm and the social reality. As we move further along in a temporal sense, we are moving towards a post gender world where previous patriarchal binaries that defined and organized identity are becoming blurred. Haraway claims that cyborgs are the key to deconstructing the binaries imposed by our society’s patriarchal foundations.
Jasbir Puar argues against Haraway, claiming that this idea/model of cyborg is reinforcing the notion of intersectionality that she challenges.In fact it is contributing to the binary dynamic rather than attempting to deconstruct it. Puar’s key point is summed up in the following quote:

“But why disaggregate the two when there surely must be cyborgian-goddesses in our midst?”

Jasbir Puar’s quote connects to our discussion last week on VJ Um Amel in the sense that an individual should not be forced to take a singular identity given to them by social constructs, but rather should be free to take up a mixture/assemblage of identities that they believe represents them.

When reading Joshua Scannell’s article, I could not help but draw on the similarities from this article’s discussion of the Domain Awareness System (DAS) and last week’s discussion of VJ Um Amel’s project based on the Egyptian Revolution and using tweets as a way of mapping out the developing narratives. However I feel the key difference between the two actually represents the discussion for this week’s topic. The project by VJ Um Amel sought information through an active human engagement and involvement through the use of a specific hashtag. This strays from the DAS which focuses on using data, numbers, and surveillance to paint a story, thus eliminating the human element completely. It’s turning humans into a series of digits and numbers, shedding the “human”. I couldn’t help but agree with the sentiment that there is a fear with big data systems in place to keep track of the population’s tendencies. On one hand, there are extreme benefits in security and convenience for individuals, however in my mind losing the “human” element almost alludes to a dystopian future where the term cyborg is not in reference to an individual who is figuratively a being comprised of machine and human elements, but rather a literal cyborg where they are comprised of the right amount of machine to be programmed and controlled. Where the possibility of choice becomes an illusion because all their actions and purchases are predicted by some “know-all” algorithm.

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