[ExI] [wta-talk] What % of H+ = Electromechanical Devices

Natasha Vita-More natasha at natasha.cc
Thu Jul 30 15:48:08 UTC 2009

Thank you for your response Ben.

I asked what percentage of human enhancement options are based within the
domain of electromechanical devices.  I expressly used the phrase
"electromechanical devices" because that is how a cyborg is defined:  "a
human being whose body has been taken over in whole or in part by
electromechanical devices; a cyborg is a cybernetic organism" (WorldNet,

In differentiating a cyborg from a transhuman, this phrase
"electromechanical devices" is important because if one were to state that a
transhuman is the more appropriate term to use when considering human
enhancement one issue would be that there are more devices/systems than
electromechanical for enhancement.  Clynes and Kline said that a cyborg is
the result of "altering man's bodily functions to meet the requirements of
extraterrestrial environments ... An artifact-organism systems which would
extend man's unconscious self-regulatory controls are one possibility"
(Cyborgs and Space).  But the transhuman is not so tethered to the
biological body and while extraterrestrial environments are one goal for
existence, a body is not essential. Also, transhuman suggests that it is a
conscious preference to regulate the body/form or state of personal

Now I will respond to your comments:

> In distinguishing the use of the term cyborg and the term transhuman 
> in

"A cybernetic organism necessarily includes a biological component and a
non-biological component; that filters out a lot of possible implementations
of "person" right away. Transhuman is "and everything else"?"

If I understand you, you are suggesting the personal identity is unique to
the transhuman and not the cyborg.  If this is what you meant, I agree.  It
was only with Haraway that a sense of personhood, mythological/symbolic and
that of feminism in large part, is the persona of the cyborg.

> In your estimation, what percentage of human enhancement options are 
> based within the domain of electromechanical devices?

"Percentage of what? It's easy to arbitrarily create a new category for a
particular technology. Does a simple variation count as a new option and
thus affect the percentages? For example video contacts vs head mounted
displays. Gene therapy to make insulin vs genetically engineered insulin. 
Are these new technologies or minor variations?

This distinguishing factor is "intention".  Video contact is for
interactivity, head mounted displays are for immersivity.  The gene therapy
example is more complicated and seem to be the same thing. So the second
would be variations.

"Are nano-bots "electromechanical"? What about biological cells? When you
get right down to it, most biomolecules are literally mechanical devices. 
A typical bacterial cell is charged up to about 1V like a capacitor, and
taps that enery store with something like a hydraulic vane motor. (see ATP
synthase or the flagellum.) Other devices resemble mechanical computers; DNA
is essentially punched tape."

If nanorobots are dependent on electricity, then they are in the domain of
electromechanical.  If they are driven by the electrical network of the
biology, then they are a separate domain.  The body's electrical currents
are not the same as AC output.  So, it seems that you are turning biology
into a machine, which it is like, but is not the same thing.

> For example, if human enhancement would be largely the result of 
> bio-genetic engineering, stem cell cloning, prosthetic synthetic body 
> parts,
> robotics+AI/AGI, pharmacology, and nanomedicine's nanocytes and 
> robotics+nanorobots,
> what domains would you suggest these (and other technologies/sciences 
> not
> mentioned) are located, other than electromechanical devices?

"The question isn't clear. Are you asking for further abstraction of these
technologies into more general categories? Do you want us to pick the One
True Transhuman Technology and tell you what research area it will certainly
come from?"

There is no one true transhuman technology.  I am simply reducing the issue
of cyborg down to what it is rather than appropriating cyborg to become the
transhumans.  My reason for this is that in academic fields, the cyborg is
being, what I consider to be misappropriated into a new area of study, that
of human enhancement, because academia is not familiar with the term
transhuman.  My issue is to prove that the cyborg is one thing and that
human enhancement is another and belongs more accurately in the domain of

> If you consider human enhancement to include whole brain emulation, do 
> you consider this to be strictly within the domain of cybernetics'
> electromechanical devices?  If so, why and if not, why?

"No; assuming a brain can be emulated by a computer in the first place, any
turing-equivalent computational system should be sufficient to emulate a
brain, including optical computers, biological computers, mechanical logic,
chemical cellular automata, and so on. Depending on the implementation,
these computational systems might run faster or slower than a human brain,
or be limited or extended in other ways, so they might not even be
enhancements beyond simply being a backup option. In general I don't
consider brain emulation to be a branch of cybernetics unless it's part of a
gradual replacement scenario."

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