Mark Grossman: What is a Cyborg?


3 April 2014


A cybernetic organism is called a cyborg (for short). A cyborg is a being with both organic (living) and mechanical parts. And it sounds just as creepy to say that a cyborg is part living animal and part machine. But, TV’s The Six Million Dollar Man brought one idea of a cyborg into public awareness. The “The Six Million Dollar Man” is a fictional vision of normal human functions increased and improved by robotic or mechanical technology.

VIDEO CLIP INTRO: The Six Million Dollar Man

WIKIPEDIA: The Six Million Dollar Man

But a few years before the airing of the pilot episode of the TV show, most everyone already knew about cyborgs. As a matter of fact, most of us have met a few. Simply, the cardiac pacemaker, introduced in the 1960’s, turns the wearer into a cyborg. The pacemaker’s action as it regulates the beating of the human heart is enough to make the user, together with the device, into a cyborg. Also, a variety of medical and life-saving technology may, technically, combine together with the user to form a cyborg.

But if “The Six Million Dollar Man” was a cyborg, why did they call him “bionic?”

Because “bionics” is the study of how to use mechanical technology to replace human organs or improve the way human organs work. So, the study is bionics, but the actual combination is called a cyborg. By the way, the TV show, “The Six Million Dollar Man”, was based on a science fiction novel by Martin Caidin titled Cyborg.

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