Anthropologist Sally Applin to speak at CyborgCamp on “Cloaked Cyborgisms”

We are excited to announce that Anthropology Ph.D. student Sally Applin will be visiting from San Francisco to speak at CyborgCamp Portland! Sally is also known as @anthropunk on Twitter, and is heavily involved in the study of open source, mobile and steampunk ideologies. She’s also an early adopter of technology, evidenced by the fact that she owns

About Sally

Applin is a Ph.D. student at the University of Kent at Canterbury, UK, in the Centre for Social Anthropology and Computing (CSAC). She holds a Masters degree from the graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) within New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and a BA in Conceptual Design from San Francisco State University. Sally has had a 20 year career in the science museum design, computer software, telecommunications, and product design/definition industries working as a Senior UX designer and ethnographic researcher.

At Kent, Sally is advised by Dr. Michael D. Fischer, Professor of Anthropological Sciences, Director of CSAC, and Director of Enterprise. Dr. Fischer is the founder of Anthropunk, a movement that examines how people promote, manage, resist and endure change; hack their lives (and those of others); and create the context of the individuation of their experiences. Sally is a founding member of Anthropunk and is currently researching the impact of technology on culture, and the consequent inverse: specifically the reifications of Virtual Space in Personal Space.

Cloaked Cyborgism

Sally will discuss the notion of the “invisible cyborg.” Cyborg modification that is unseen by others by being cloaked or embedded can create the invisible cyborg in humans. For example, one might have an ankle with a titanium implant in it. That cyborg ankle is there, but unseen to others. Dick Chaney’s heart was cyborg and unseen for a long time. Now it is seen because he has to wear an external device mounted on top of his chest. The notion of “Invisible Cyborg” can be also be created as a goverment policy or plan that subsequently impacts large groups in a seemingly “invisible” way. Slavoj Žižek touches on topics tangential to these concepts. For instance, “trillion-dollar organisms” – patented bugs excreting biofuels, generating clean energy or producing tailor-made food. There are ideas of synthesising new viruses or other pathogens. Extreme genetic engineering may create substantially different organisms: we’ll find ourselves in a terrain full of unknowns. In the west, we have debates about whether we should intervene to prevent disease or use stem cells, while the Chinese just do it on a massive scale.

Applin’s talk will discuss many more concepts in greater detail, and will invite discussion on what the future might hold for humans, machines, and the things that are in-between.