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Covering technological, scientific, and cultural trends that are changing–and will change–human beings in fundamental ways.

Editor's Blog

Tyger.A.C
July 17, 2012


That we are intimate with the world is not news. That we have extended this intimacy to our tools is a reality; the idea that we are becoming cyborgs is already here.

There is nothing mysterious or futuristic about being a cyborg, part machine part biological organism. Using our smartphones to remember our appointments, a long list of telephone numbers, addresses and shopping lists is a cyborg activity. The extension and externalization of our memories in electronic devices makes us de-facto modern day cyborgs.

Deploying devices to upgrade and extend our insufficient neuro performance is only part of what we do as cyborgs. We use these extensions for training, for life tracking, for calorie counts, for sleep, you name it, there’s an app for that. But lest we forget, we also have our loves, our cares and our motivations to deal with, our desires both of the flesh and of our imagination. Also these are slowly coming into this symbiotic relationship.

The accelerated tooling times we are living in, allow us to gradually expand the notion of what it means to be human. For, make no mistake; we are far from being similar to our ancestors. A modern day, urbanized, cyberneticaly hyperconnected human, exists in a state of interdependence and sense extension, the like of which no one could have predicted.

We have a new relationship with technology, one we truly cannot extricate ourselves from, and this changes everything. Cyber technologies and information science have brought to bear, not a new tool but a new world with which to be intimate, a cyberspace horizon of potentiality that extends into the material world.

What happens when these cyber-technologies, broaden our nervous system, into other nervous systems, weaving us with the emergent nervous system of the Internet?



A plethora of new technologies offers us a wide swath to expand our sensations and emotions into, and our desires and hidden imaginary wishes. Virtual worlds such as Second Life already thrive, but a growing segment of virtuality is directed, how else? Into sex.

Red districts offering every conceivable sexual wish, from the Toy Slaves Brothel (NSFW), to Fantasy Escorts (NSFW), are here for the take. One of these virtual worlds, appropriately named Red Light Center, (NSFW), carrying the tag line: “EXPAND Your Fantasy”, is modeled after Amsterdam’s red light district and claims a few million users.

Now come the tough questions of course: “is it infidelity to have sex in virtual worlds?” when no ‘real’ sex has occurred? It is hard to come by numbers, but it does make sense that for many it will be considered as such, creating novel situations where the ‘competition’ is an avatar. The ubiquitousness of cyber sex virtual worlds is however only part of the story. It is still you, probably alone, clicking on a button, playing a game.

Enter Synesthesia, literally the coming together of sensation (from the Greek Syn- together and Aesthesis – sensation), a term, which may well denote that which we are experiencing and will increasingly experience as the electronic tools at our disposal evolve. Though the experience of Synesthesia is anything but common and is considered to be of genetic origin, its idiosyncratic nature is what makes it so convenient and adaptable to the extension of our senses via technology.

In fact new developments in haptic technologies, especially those involving vibrotactile feedback, will soon allow us to ‘really’ feel objects in virtual worlds, to feel, to sense and to enjoy the pleasures provided. Feeling the coldness of steel, the weight of a rock or the warmth of a body in a virtual world, is a revolution of the senses, the like of which we have not yet seen. For once the stream of impressions coming to our nervous system is no longer subject to the immediate, the possibilities open to our perceptual apparatus are limited by imagination only, and that we have abundantly.

Once the new mesh of Haptic and Synesthesia comes together the avatar of our own making, will be able not only to see, but touch, feel and sense remote objects to a fullness of satisfaction, that will practically overwhelm us. One of these technologies already available is offering products such as the real touch award winning male masturbator (NSFW), which pledges to be the future of adult entertainment, followed closely by the Mojowijo (NSFW) promising: “The motions of one device are transformed into vibrations in the other, literally allowing you to share the mojo with anyone, anywhere in the world.”

Though these devices are only the very beginning of what cybersex promises to be, a ‘real’ virtual alternative to common relationship, already their problematic implications abound. While Internet enabled sexual toys proliferate and multiple 3D online worlds offer everything from multiple partners, to every single imaginable fantasy one can have it is their descendents, which offer a real glimpse into the future.

A writer, futurist and a Polytopian Tyger.A.C (a.k.a Wildcat) is the founder and editor of the Polytopia Project at Space Collective, he also writes at Reality Augmented, and Urbnfutr. His passion and love for science fiction led him to initiate the Sci-fi Ultrashorts project.

10 Comments

    Good article. Do you have the links posted somewhere? I'd like to look up the haptic interfaces you mention, but trying to google "male masturbator" is like trying to find a fleshy needle in a really gross haystack.

    There is a good book by JE Lansuing called "Nymph: The Singularity" that deals with the same topic. It is possible to read some pages on http://readrobotsex.tumblr.com/ and the whole book is available on Amazon Kindle. Is he among your friends?

    The notion that we are "becoming" cyborgs and that technology such as smartphones is a cyborg technology are incoherent. Either we define true cyborgism as technology that we incorporate inside of ourselves (with finer distinctions to be worked out) or we acknowledge that we've essentially been cyborgs since our earliest tool use. I prefer the former as the latter makes no interesting distinctions and is therefore of little use.

      Yes, and yes. Tool have essentially been what has defined humanity since humanity became the dominant species on this planet. Our tools make us what we are. It now becomes the sophistication of the tools and the number of them in use at any particular moment which literally transforms us from age to age.

      I agree, we need to get such terms properly defined in order to have meaningful, constructive discussion.
      It's already very difficult to discuss politics when the word 'liberal' means so many different things to so many different people!

      Thanks for the comment.

      The notions of becoming a cyborg are indeed in need of correct, precise and accurate definitions, and I am in fact working on this particular aspect of the issue. Having said that however we need make a clear distinction between tooling as a specie specific feature (such as indeed we are) which of course makes us cyborgs ever since the beginning of tool use, a view that in fact I espouse, and the process of cyborgization.
      To my mind it will be more accurate to depict the whole process from the beginning as the process of cyborgization which in general will come to mean an organism using (or manipulating) the world to create enhancements to its biological organization such that after enhancement the state of affairs of that particular organism in the world is better (in the sense of cybernetics).
      Nevertheless the term itself is in the process of evolving and is currently able to provide us with an extended meaning that relegates ‘tool use’ to an older era. If we in fact agree that the term Cyborg implies a Cybernetic organism, we need take into account that it is a process that extends across time.
      In this process I see the differences in the cyborgization process as correlated to inherent dependence and independence. The sense I use here of dependence is in the incorporation of the enhancement into the body requiring an increased effort to disentangle from whilst independence in the same sense implies ease and effortlessness in disentanglement.
      In the above sense, a brain implant implies a deep level of dependence whilst a smart-phone implies a medium level of dependence and a plow a low level of dependence.
      The point is of course that the process being long and exponentially increasing demands a very fine tuning model.
      Actually taking your comment at heart I will strive to write a more complex set of definitions for the term Cyborg and the Process of Cyborgization in general.

      Unfortunately, this gave me fits in undergraduate philosophy - the usage is correct according to "cyborg theory", a philosophy/cognitive science branch that takes the fact that at a neural-plasticity level humans add their tools to their very body image and runs with it.

      Still think it's an annoying redefinition and prefer the term "fyborg" for "functional equivalent of a cyborg", but…

      Technology can be described as "cyborg" when we depend upon it to enhance our ability to funcion. Hammers, drills, cars and such don't qualify because we don't rely on them constantly to do something that the human mind is capable of doing on its own.
      Cell phones replace our memory of phone numbers, names, birthdates, and in addition helps manage our relationships with other humans. They do effectively make us cyborgs.

    notions*

    The tactile experiences you talk about will pale in significance to the sexual potential for quantum entanglement. The mind is the greatest erogenous zone. What happens when we link minds and experience our most outrageous fantasies on a very real level, rather than mediated by machines? The next evolution will be us tapping into the unlimited potential of mind, interconnected and infinite in possibility, writing and rewriting our very definition of self with every heartbeat. Its brilliant fun I assure you.

One Trackback

  1. By Techno Desire and Cyber Sex | Lockall on August 1, 2012 at 3:37 pm

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