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Posted by on Nov 12, 2010

Wearable Technology: Cyborg fashion and incentives for permanent tattoos

Apparently, I wasn’t quite done with this thought process on wearable technology and how it applies to cyborg. What I found unique about this approach were the accessories, that essentially there are secondary markets (and thus economic incentives) focused on melding technology to human. It might have started with a nose guard on eyeglasses, but it has now morphed into a fashion accessory. There is always prestige value to the technology, certainly, but now there is prestige value in mapping this technology to the human.

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  1. This is a fascinating angle to explore, and I remember you also mentioning nanotechnology previously in relation to ‘mapping technology to the human’.

    I blogged briefly about Professor Warwicks surgical interventions into cyborg research the other day, and I remain unconvinced about actually breaking skin. Anyway, cyborg theory is surely about conceptual (but not unreal) reclassification rather than physical interventions. As you suggest, ubiquity and mobility perhaps much better ways to bring technology into the spheres of our cognition. Your suggestion of new tribal identities seems to relate to the reclassifications implied in the cyborg.

    ‘many will also opt, as I do, for a temporary union of human and technology’, agreed, and I think that this really makes tangible the notion of shifting identity suggested in the posthuman. Our cognitive capacity will change according to which wearable or tattoos we augment ourselves with.

    ‘cyborgization (why not?)’ – indeed.

  2. Hello there, Jeremy.

    Thanks for this. After reading your post and your response to this post, I realize I was skirting a bit too close to a technological determinism, that the technology and not the shift in identity and capacity, was the real focus. That isn’t really the case, so thanks for that.

    I do suspect there is something to this willingness of humans to not only adopt, but to wear (and even transpose) this technology on their physical being. It feels significant, but not sure quite why yet.

    It is certainly a reclassification of sort, a new subset of tribal identities breaking down across utilitarian lines? Not sure, yet, but definitely good to think about.

    Perhaps what we are dealing with here, rather than this search for delineation, rigid boundaries and distinctions, is an embrace of transience. That the natural state of consciousness, of information, of humanity and association, is absolute flux, a state of constant change. That situated is the aberration.

  3. I think it is fairly utlilitarian Michael – haven’t we always (us humans!) liked to carry our ‘tools’ with us? Hunter-gatherers, nomads etc. Isn’t wearing technology a bit like that – we just like to have what we need instantly available to do the job we need to do.

  4. Hello there, Noreen.

    Utlitarian, certainly, but all interactions are to some degree. Indeed, evolution has transformed the human organism over the years to become more utilitarian (opposable thumbs, perhaps).

    I agree that is indeed like a toolbelt or the first human using a bone as a weapon or something like that; it is an extension of utility. Over time these are refined to be more useful through design, to conform to our natural contours and processes and such, but in turn these tools radically alter what we perceive as possible. Our consciousness and sense of identity change with them. The tools are an extension of the human system as they provide feedback to us and vice versa.

    I am just interested, I think-still working this out in my own head, in the human impulse to push further, expand, refine, and that impulse often lends itself to this discussion. Technology as enabling agent, that sort of thing. In and of itself, it is meaningless; wielded towards purpose, it is expansive.

    I was really taken with the quote from Hayles (I think, having difficulty finding it now) discussing the US Constitution. Did the document presuppose an America that didn’t exist at the time? Did it essentially create the entity known as the American (whatever that might be)? It had me thinking quite a lot about cyborg/technology/posthuman.

  5. I liked the stuff in Hayles (I think it was in that article) about science fiction pushing the human further – as you say, ‘to expand, refine…”. That’s probably because I love science fiction but it does ring true doesn’t it? What is seen as fantasy is just an environment for the human imagination to take science and technology to its logical conclusion and see what happens and decide what we think about it.

  6. It certainly does ring true, Noreen. Science fiction is so potent precisely because it is predictive. It both stimulates and articulates future society. This “fantasy” is like some vast container that we fill with our explanations, constructs of what that container is. It is like everyone agreeing on terms for a debate; it structures the conversation.

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