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GlassesGuest post by Chris Billows.

When we think about being a cyborg, we think about computers, robotics, and cybernetics. This imagery is prominent thanks to sci-fi writing and movies. We have become so dependent on technology in modern society, we are more cyborg than non-cyborg. It becomes hard to see how we could get along without technology.

But what about needing technology to actually see? When I think about my own circumstances, I am completely dependent on technology to see distances. I am profoundly short-sighted and have required glasses for distance vision since I was 12 years old. With aging, the prescriptions have become stronger and my dependence on corrective lenses is even greater. Even the language emphasizes how my vision is incorrect without technology. You're not viewing correctly so here is some shaped plastic/glass to fix it.

Yet are glasses/corrective lenses technology? Glasses are typically plastic that has been shaped and layered in such a way to correct issues with distance, reading, and astigmatism. They don't require batteries or need to be rebooted. You place them on your face and away you go. Sure, they need cleaning but every cyborg extension we have is an enemy of dust and grime.

Making glasses in today's age is pretty high-tech but using them isn't. I've always wondered how I would have survived in older times with such terrible vision. Surely I would have been eaten by some hungry beast that I stumbled into thinking it was a rock. Glasses allow me to survive and thrive.

I'm not alone. The prevalence of glasses appears to be a condition of human behaviour. We need glasses because we are doing activities like reading and looking closely at things such as our phone, tablet, computer screen, etc. The irony is that it is these other technologies that leads us to require glasses technology in order to function! Reading a book for extended periods means that we now need glasses to compensate for weakened eyes. The cyborg experience is virulent and all-consuming.

Talking about vision and sight has given me insight into an unstated cybernetic law. Using technology leads to dependence on additional technology to mitigate the side-effects of the first technology. Reading gives us information and knowledge but also poorer vision prompting the cybernetic compensation of reading glasses.

That's a conclusion that I didn't see coming. Now excuse my while I go clean my glasses.

A Hundred Cyborgs, #84 by Chris Billows, a part of All-Comers April.

Check out the new ebook edition of The Virtuous Cyborg!


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