Cyborgs in History: From Cybernetics to Artificial Intelligence


Who coined the word "cyborg," and why? And how did cyborgs become so integral to our imaginative worlds and daily existence? In this course, we will contemplate the intersection between technologies and societies through the lens of cyborgs, a shorthand for "cybernetic organisms." Defying the separation between humans and machines, cyborgs have been critical to sciences, humanities, pop culture, feminism, afrofuturism, and queer studies, among many other fields of inquiry. This course will take a deep dive into the worlds of scientists, scholars, artists, and ordinary people to discover the cultural meanings of cyborgs across time and space. Along the way we will meet Norbert Wiener who coined the term "cybernetics," Donna Haraway for whom the cyborgs were a revolutionary species, and John C. Lilly who thought he could speak with dolphins. We will also travel to the USSR to read about a failed internet, to Chile where cybernetics was a socialist project, and to Japan to learn about gender and technology in non-Western spaces. By the end of the course, the students will have a strong theoretical and historical grasp on the social worlds of cybernetic technologies.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU BA; AS HUM; AS LCD; FA HUM; AR HUM