“Fear is created not by the world around us, but in the mind, by what we think is going to happen. ” Why is it that in almost all of the movies starring cyborgs, the cyborgs are either inherently evil or the cause of trouble? We human beings seem to have a problem with the idea of a person enhanced with technology, or a robot enhanced with Artificial Intelligence (AI). Norbert Wiener, a mathematician, coined the term cybernetics . Although many of his idea’s are still used today, Wiener himself began to second guess the value of his work.
He wrote that while competition from machines during the first industrial revolution devalued the human arm, the modern industrial revolution “is similarily bound to devalue the human brain”2. One reason we so fear cyborg’s is that, being superior to us in some way, they will replace us. This feeling is brought to light in “The Terminator”, as well as the Japanese Anime “Armitage III: Polymatrix”. In “The Terminator” and its sequel, machines have all but obliterated humanity, as revenge for the humans making them subserviant.
In “Armitage”, the cyborgs are reffered to as Seconds. They have no emotion, and are perfect for menial labor. Humans have a grudge against them, seeing as businesses employ the Seconds for a vast multitude of tasks, leaving the job market barren. “Once the first powerful machine, with an intelligence similar to that of a human, is switched on, we will most likely not get the opportunity to switch it back off again. ” Although Asimov provided us with ‘rules’ for robots, this quote embodies the unspoken fear of AI.
Once we create a being that cannot be defined as wholly biological or mechanical, how will we determine what rights apply to it? In the movie “Blade Runner”, the cyborgs, or Replicant’s are not even legally allowed on earth. The law does not consider Replicants human and therefore accords them no rights nor protection . The Replicants also have a fail-safe mechanism: a four year lifespan. Although not a cyborg, HAL 9000 of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, fits into this category. HAL was programmed with Asimov’s laws in mind.
However, at some point these rules conflict with each other, and HAL violates all the laws by lying, and killing one of his human companions. The movie suggests that HAL was aware, especailly near the end, as HAL tries to convince Dave not to shut him down. “I feel much better now, I really do,” HAL reasons. “The Matrix” is the most recent humans-triumph-over-evil-machines movie, with an interesting twist. In “The Matrix”, humans create AI and it turns on them, using humanity as a power source . However, the cyborgs are not the machines, but the humans.
The humans are able to download information into their brain, like a computer can download files off the Internet. Overall, we as a society still have a certain amount of wariness when it comes to cyborgs. What people don’t seem to realize is that cyborgs walk among us even now. Anyone with a prothsetic limb or artificial organ can be considered cyborg. Hopefully, over time, we will come to terms with this idea before science advances much further. I, for one, can wait for the day when my computer rebels.