Natural-Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies, and the Future of Human Intelligence

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9780195148664: Natural-Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies, and the Future of Human Intelligence

From Robocop to the Terminator to Eve 8, no image better captures our deepest fears about technology than the cyborg, the person who is both flesh and metal, brain and electronics. But philosopher and cognitive scientist Andy Clark sees it differently. Cyborgs, he writes, are not something to be feared--we already are cyborgs.
In Natural-Born Cyborgs, Clark argues that what makes humans so different from other species is our capacity to fully incorporate tools and supporting cultural practices into our existence. Technology as simple as writing on a sketchpad, as familiar as Google or a cellular phone, and as potentially revolutionary as mind-extending neural implants--all exploit our brains' astonishingly plastic nature. Our minds are primed to seek out and incorporate non-biological resources, so that we actually think and feel through our best technologies. Drawing on his expertise in cognitive science, Clark demonstrates that our sense of self and of physical presence can be expanded to a remarkable extent, placing the long-existing telephone and the emerging technology of telepresence on the same continuum. He explores ways in which we have adapted our lives to make use of technology (the measurement of time, for example, has wrought enormous changes in human existence), as well as ways in which increasingly fluid technologies can adapt to individual users during normal use. Bio-technological unions, Clark argues, are evolving with a speed never seen before in history. As we enter an age of wearable computers, sensory augmentation, wireless devices, intelligent environments, thought-controlled prosthetics, and rapid-fire information search and retrieval, the line between the user and her tools grows thinner day by day. "This double whammy of plastic brains and increasingly responsive and well-fitted tools creates an unprecedented opportunity for ever-closer kinds of human-machine merger," he writes, arguing that such a merger is entirely natural.
A stunning new look at the human brain and the human self, Natural Born Cyborgs reveals how our technology is indeed inseparable from who we are and how we think.

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About the Author:


Andy Clark is Director of the Cognitive Science Program at Indiana University. His books include Being There: Putting Brain, Body, and World Together and Mindware.

Review:


"A book that is at once profound, ground breaking, and delightful reading. Clark, more than anybody, understands how human nature is shaped by the technology and culture through which it finds expression. Bravo!" --Jerome Bruner, University Professor, New York University, and author of Making Stories


"Highly interesting, provocative and easy to read.... Natural-Born Cyborgs is impressive and entertaining, giving the book a potentially wide audience that includes those interested in cognitive science, performance art and the philosophy of mind."--Nature


"In this lively and provocative treatise, Clark declares that we are, in fact, 'human technology symbionts' or 'natural-born cyborgs,' always seeking ways to enhance our biological mental capacities through technology, an intriguing claim he supports with a brisk history of biotechnology mergers, which currently range from pacemakers to the way a pilot of a commercial airplane is but one component in an elaborate 'biotechnological problem-solving matrix.'"--San Diego Union-Tribune


"This is a marvelous book, one I intend to use and reuse. I want to teach a course using it. I want to tell my friends. The neatest part is that it is both fun and deep, a hard trick to pull off, but Clark managed wonderfully. He combines a broad array of insights and stories into a charming, yet profound, excursion into what it means to be human as more and more we rely upon--and may even be coupled to--our technology. I read it in a day, but I know I will return to it often."--Donald Norman, Professor of Computer Science, Northwestern University, and author of Emotional Design


"Andy Clark has given us an exciting yet realistic vision of what lies ahead. If you've ever wondered what Cyborgs are really all about, this is where you will find your answers." --Kevin Warwick, Professor of Cybernetics, University of Reading, and author of I, Cyborg


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