The Cyborg: Science meets Science Fiction
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In May 1960 Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline, a biocyberneticist and a psychiatrist, proposed to technologically alter a human being to resist an outer space environment for purposes of space exploration. They called this enhanced human being a ‘cyborg’, or cybernetic organism, because of the cybernetic technology that would be used to alter the life functions of the human body. Then as now, the cyborg was considered mostly as science fictional speculation, even by Clynes and Kline themselves. In my thesis I sketch the origins of Clynes and Kline’s cyborg as a product of both science fiction and science. My analysis shows that the fathers of the cyborg took inspiration from the science fiction of their day and combined it with their own scientific expertise to provide a plausible answer to the problem of manned space exploration. The example of the cyborg suggests that scientific ideas and developments can be influenced by science fiction, even if the influence is not a direct one. My thesis is therefore also an attempt to make sense of science fiction as a viable category of historical analysis for the historian of science, something which has heretofore received very little attention.