Where Are The Cyborg Olympics?

from the come-with-me-if-you-want-to-live dept

Earlier this week, double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius from South Africa was disqualified from participating in the 2008 Olympics by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). Born without normal lower legs, Pistorius uses artificial carbon-fiber feet that are more efficient, and on top of that, his lack of real legs makes him lighter — as well as possibly reducing his body’s production of lactic acid from exercise. So with these advantages, the IAAF judged that his prosthetics were unfair to other competitors.

However, this ruling brings up very interesting questions surrounding where society draws the line between natural and artificial augmentations of the human body. Lasik and similar eye operations can enhance human vision for athletes beyond average eyesight. Blood doping doesn’t technically introduce artificial substances into the body. Natural gene mutations are okay for now, but it’s likely just a matter of time before genetic engineering becomes an issue. So at some point, the line between a ‘natural’ athletic competitor and an engineered contestant will need to be more clearly defined — if only because it will become increasingly difficult to tell the two apart.

The modern Olympics were set up as a way to bring nations together (if you believe Wikipedia). But if the entertainment aspect of these games becomes more valuable, then in addition to the Robo Olympics and cyber games, the post-modern Olympics may need to offer a place for cyborgs if the Paralympic games aren’t competitive enough.

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Comments on “Where Are The Cyborg Olympics?”

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17 Comments
boost says:

Re: Alternative Olympics

The x-games, also, doesn’t much involve events that test an athlete’s strength and endurance. Those are important aspects to the events in the X-games but not so much as skill and, in my opinoin, bravery. Therefore, there isn’t much need to test for drugs, aside from the kind that might alter your mental state.

Jim Christie says:

Re: Amputee Oscar Pistorius

FYI, Matt and everyone who wonders… Oscar was born without the fibula bones in his lower legs. Doctors and parents decided he wouldn’t be able to navigate through life with just the tibias supporting his weight. They’d fracture constantly… so when he was 11 months old, the legs were amputated below the knoee. He learned all his locomotion (ie. walking and running) on prosthetics and played sports, including rugby and track.
But he is, indeed, an amputee.

Mike says:

We don't need another farce.

The olympics is already a huge joke… why would we want to fund MORE of this garbage? I mean come on. How many athletes have ruined their countries reputations already at the Olympics? Nevermind the money that gets spent by communities hosting the games, that should go back into the community instead of on a farcical display of steroid enhanced pseudosports? In Vancouver they quietly move the poor people out of affordable housing in order to renovate then rent the properties at higher rents to tourists? This whole thing should get zero tax dollars and be completely privately funded if they want to continue it. I’m not even going to comment on bladerunners “quest for publicity” as he was told there was little to know chance he would be allowed to compete a long long time ago, this whole thing is just for the spotlight.

tom says:

Prosthetics

Just one more case of “we need two classes of sports”! Just like in motorsports, we need an open and stock class. Human modification is inevitable, and we need to acknowledge that. Drugs, steroids, prosthetics, you name it. It will happen! I personally have implants, and I consider myself mildly modified! The human body is simply a canvas; we have the ability to accomplish anything!

Jason Schlosberg (user link) says:

Technodarwinism

Have you read the Cyborg Handbook? It provides some great factual and philosophical insight regarding this issue. I read it as part of my university english lit/film class, The Posthuman. My resulting thesis paper was entitled Technodarwinism, which I defined as the plateauing of natural human evolutionary development due to the diminishing impact, or eventual removal, of natural selection caused by increased technological reliance.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

All Sport Is Artificial

All sporting contents are subject to artificial constraints in the interest of “fairness”. Why do they use a starting gun in running races? Why not countdown lights à la drag races? So the race becomes in part a test of speed of reflexes. But then they arbitrarily decide that no normal human’s reflexes can possibly respond in less than 125 ms. So anybody who starts running quicker than that after the gun goes off is deemed to have “jumped the gun”.

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