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The Joy of Cyborg Anthropology

We are all cyborgsAmber Case (Digital Philosopher and Cyborg Anthropologist) begins her presentation on the evolution and impact of cyborg anthropology by stating this fact (a fact that most people are not aware of even though we interact with technology constantly day-in-day-out). A lot of people will take issue with being called a cyborg but I, for one, am embracing my inner-cyborg (being 100% human is so yesterday).  But whether we like it or not, we are converging with technology in a way that is causing us to think and behave more like the technology we’ve created and socialize a lot less like like the humans being we’ve known throughout history.

Enter the study of Cyborg Anthropology and one of its star researchers, Amber Case (@caseorganic) (who is currently writing a book on the topic due out next Spring entitled The Dictionary of Cyborg Anthropology). (managed by Case) defines this relatively new area of study in such a way as to make you wish you could drop everything and go back to school just to study it:

Cyborg Anthropology takes the view that most of modern human life is a product of both human and non-human objects. People are surrounded by built objects and networks. So profoundly are humans altering their biological and physical landscapes that some have openly suggested that the proper object of anthropological study should be cyborgs rather than humans, for, as Donna Haraway says, “we are all cyborgs now”.  How we interact with machines and technology in many ways defines who we are. Cyborg Anthropology is a framework for understanding the effects of objects and technology on humans and culture.”

It’s a fascinating subset of anthropology (a topic I also find fascinating) that reminds me of the excitement and and awe I felt studying astrophysics (hoping that which each observation that yielded valuable data, the cosmos would give up just one drop of its secrets as to how how the universe was created and how it will all end, if indeed it will).

Case gave a “short” talk (at 50 minutes!) on the topic that will have you drooling to jump in with commentary and questions.  I’ve posted the video of her talk below.  If this is of interest to you then you’ll definitely want to go to the original post of this webcast which has extensive notes and information on the topic that will give you more insight into the topic and Case’s observations.

I’m still reviewing the webcast (50 minutes is an eternity online) but I will posting comments about it soon.

Until then, enjoy the webcast you crazy cyborgs!