Today is Wednesday, so it’s time for our regular feature What is that? Here’s today’s term:
Cyborg – a cybernetic organism; a person or creature comprised of both mechanical and biological parts
Clynes and Kline coined the word “cyborg” to describe modifications to astronauts
Scientists Manfred Clynes and Nathan S. Kline coined the term “cyborg,” which is merely a contraction of the words cybernetic organism. Cybernetics is a study comparing the human nervous system and systems that govern how machines operate.
Clynes and Kline created the word to use in scientific papers discussing how humans might one day be modified with machine or artificial parts so they could endure long travel times in space and survive the hardships of life in space. They even discussed how modifications might make it possible to live without breathing.
Cyberpunk explores future societies filled with cyborgs
One of the most famous cyborgs from cyberpunk is a woman named Molly Millions, a “razorgirl” mercenary. Author William Gibson created Molly in his 1981 short story “Johnny Mnemonic.” The short story was later the inspiration for the 1995 film of the same name starring Keanu Reeves.
Molly is a cyborg with eye implants and blades built into her fingers. Here is how Gibson describes her in his cyberpunk classic, Neuromancer. (By the way, she carries a gun Gibson calls a “fletcher” that shoots flechettes or darts.)
“He realized that the glasses were surgically inset, sealing her sockets. The silver lenses seemed to grow from smooth pale skin above her cheekbones, framed by dark hair cut in a rough shag. The fingers curled around the fletcher were slender, white, tipped with polished burgundy. The nails looked artificial.
. . . .
“She wore tight black gloveleather jeans and a bulky black jacket cut from some matte fabric that seemed to absorb light.”
. . . .
“She held out her hands, palms up, the white fingers slightly spread, and with a barely audible click, ten, double-edged, four centimeter scalpel blades slid from their housings beneath the burgundy nails.
“She smiled. The blades slowly withdrew.”
Become a cyborg!
If you could be a cyborg, what three cybernetic features would you add to your own body?
- Would you add brain power with faster computing speeds or massive memory?
- Would you improve your strength, speed, or vision?
- Would you add wings to fly? Some other upgrade to do what no human can?
Please post your comments below.