Cyborg Creation

Zack Boyle

Cyborg n : a human being whose body has been taken over in whole or in part by electromechanical devices; "a Cyborg is a cybernetic organism" [syn: {bionic man}, {bionic woman}]

What exactly is a cyborg? In basic terms, one could say that humans feel emotions while a cyborg doesn't. However, all of the cyborgs in Blade Runner, Bubblegum Crisis, and Ghost in the Shell seem to possibly have emotions. The heroine of Ghost in the Shell feels lonely sometimes, realizing that she is a clone pressed from a factory mold. The cyborgs in Bubblegum Crisis feel sadness and desperation as their comrades die in combat. Even the replicants in Blade Runner seem to resemble trapped souls trying to escape (sometimes in misanthropic ways).

However, in other movies and television series cyborgs have no emotions whatsoever. Star Trek's Borgare intelligent in technical terms but have a system similar to "hive" insects like ants or bees. That is, they exist only to spread their empire across the galaxy without compassion for other forms of life. The "Terminators" from the popular movie and sequel had no emotions, either they were killing machines built to complete their missions in a brutally efficient manner. Robocop didn't seem ever to feel remorse, though it's been a while since I saw the movie. In most cases, unemotional cyborgs tend to be villains.

There are two basic ways in cyborg creation is represented in films. The first involves creating a human form from scratch÷this is how the Ghost in the Shell characters were created. However, this falls under the definition of an android -- a machine built to resemble a human form. The second method requires a human body, upon which machinery is added. It seems logical that a human body type cyborg would have emotion, while a more robotically originated cyborg would not. However, Priss and the cyborgs from Bubblegum Crisis possessed emotions. On the other hand, Robocop did not. Did the creators put an "emotion" program into Priss and her companions' heads? Or withhold it from the Terminators?

[To other discussions of this topic by members of English 111, Cyberspace and Critical Theory, Spring 1998.]

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