What IS Cyborg Anthropology?

In 2011 I began illustrating Amber Case‘s book, “A Dictionary of Cyborg Anthropology.” 

It meant a lot robot-y pictures were popping up on my blog.

I also started getting a lot of questions about what exactly ‘cyborg anthropology” is.

That’s actually what the book is sort of about — it defines terms she uses, like a big glossary. But I’ve read the evolving draft and it seems geared towards people who already are familiar with topics like this. There’s not a lot of words for us regular people.  

In an effort to make the topic more accessible — and for my own amusement, let’s be real — I put this little introduction together. 

This is by no means exhaustive. But for us non-techy-people it might be a gentle step into a new idea.


I am a human, this is a robot

We are not the same.

I have organs that nature made, he has wheels that I made.

I feel warm to the touch, he feels cool to the touch.

I have desires, he waits for a question.

We are not the same. But we are friends, and we help each other.

I get lost, he helps me find my way.

He gets hungry, I feed him.

I create beautiful ideas, he shares them with those I love.

He finds wonderful facts, I incorporate them into my thoughts.

As time goes on I find I have more robot friends

I help them learn about our human ways

They help me talk to my other human friends, who live far away.

We help each other more and more.

But does that mean I’m becoming a robot?

     Does that mean he’s becoming a human?

I don’t think so.

But, I’m different than my Uncle Bill, he does not have many robot friends.

Maybe that’s why some people call me a cyborg.

But, tiny robots help Uncle Bill hear me when I speak to him.

So maybe that’s why some people think he could be a kind of cyborg too.

A “cyborg” just means: extra things added to help someone explore a new place.

It’s robots and humans working together, making a new kind of cooperation.

Some people do this a lot.

Some people do this a little.

My Uncle Bill hardly does it at all.

He’s a little unsure about robots. They’re so different from what he’s used to.

The thing is, we use technology every day.

In a small way,  we always have.

My robot friends want to help humanity.

They don’t want to program humanity out of existence.

We haven’t been able to solve some big problems.

Maybe if the robots help, we can solve them.

So when I see a new robot I make sure to introduce myself.

So I can make even more robot friends.