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by Andy Miah, PhD

Friday, January 15, 1999

Implantable Brain Chips

Maguire Jr, G. Q. and E. M. McGee (1999). "Implantable Brain Chips? Time for Debate." Hastings Center Report 29(1): 7-14.

Maguire and McGee review a number of prospects for brain/sensory modification, drawing on the current 'cyborg' Steve Mann.

They make the case for a serious consideration of sci-fi prospects in bioethics, a worthy view. Their moral debate recounts what might be characterised as standard objections to technological enhancement: the oppositional natural/technological natures of humanity,concerns about bodily integrity and the sanctity of life, distinctions between therapy and enhancement, safety, risks, social consequences, costs, equity.

It would probably have been useful to pursue some of the narratives of the sci-fi that they mention at the beginning. This could assist in understanding how we frame possible futures and how they relate to our (jeopardised) sense of moral agency, which is central to many stories about technology 'out of control'.

Friday, January 01, 1999

How we Became Posthuman

Originally uploaded by andymiah.
Hayles, N. K. (1999). How we became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. London, University of Chicago Press.

N Katherine Hayles' work has become central to posthuman research. However, the justification for this is not clear. Hayles does not really develop a critical account of the posthuman and relies essentially on its digital or virtual characteristics. The book places the development of computing into an historical context, moving from the development of computing, through to Turing, the Macey Conferences, through to Philip K. Dick's Bladerunner. The reliance on the 'virtual' and the lack of epistemological inquiry in this text is something that I think will be necessary to revisit. Hayles' 'virtual bodies' and the significance of 'information' seems to undermine the context through which virtualness and info are necessarily attached. These attributes re-constitute the virtual and give it a body.