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The family at dinner: Mom, Dad, teenaged daughter. Dad is serving the rest of the family. Meatloaf, potatoes, and boiled carrots. As he holds the tray for each in turn, they talk. I don't like it when you're so distant. I have a lot going on at work. The daughter looks puzzled, surreptitiously taps her ear while pretending to scratch a spot on her cheek.

MOM Are you sure that's all it is, dear? You've been snapping at us more than usual lately. DAD No, it's nothing, really. Nothing to worry about.

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I'm probably not getting enough sleep. Maybe I ought to try to get to bed early tonight. Mom brushes her hair back with her right hand, casually touches her ear on the way past. Dad finishes serving his womenfolk and takes the tray into the kitchen. The camera follows; halfway down the hall, he turns his head slightly and winks.

In the kitchen he sets the tray down and turns to face the camera, pulling what seems to be a rubber coin purse from his pants pocket. I feel like I can really talk to my family again! Cut to product still of the ZD Genderlect Translation Jammer in three different disguises, the rubber coin purse that we've just seen in action, a compact for the ladies, and a Sony Walkman for the youngsters. And it blocks machine translation of genderlects effectively anywhere, without being detected. Great for family vacations, dinner parties, and Super Bowl Sunday!

Do you instinctively resist the notion that when you translate you too are a cyborg? You sit at the computer, yes. You value the many support functions the computer offers you, not just in typing no need to retype when you make a mistake! All this is important, certainly. In fact it is difficult to imagine how you got along without it, just a few years ago, typing your translations on a typewriter, relying much more heavily on print dictionaries, making phone calls to experts.

The computer helps; but you are the translator. You are a human being. Only you can translate. A classical definition of the cyborg, offered back in by Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Exogenously extended because the cyborg extends human agency outward, into the world, into environments such as deep space or the bottom of the ocean where humans cannot survive without such extensions, into performances such as fantastically rapid recall and analysis, or manipulation requiring superhuman strength of which humans alone would not be capable.

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The cyborg translator translates faster and more accurately than the human translator. It edits translated text far more reliably, both bringing together humans and machines in widely separated geographical places through sophisticated communication technology and enabling rigorous checking and testing processes. For example, a good friend of mine lives in rural Washington State and translates from Swedish, almost exclusively for Sweden-based clients. Because of the instantaneity of e-mail connections, she finds it professionally essential to work during Swedish business hours, which in U.

So she wakes up shortly after midnight and works till morning, then naps and gets her kids off to school and does various household chores and chats on ICQ with translator friends and edits her nocturnal production throughout the day. Grabs a few more hours of sleep in the evening, and is ready to start over again. It is not even that they work together. They are part of the same thing. Together they are a cyborg. Homeostatic , or self-regulating, because only homeostatic systems can continue to function stably in their particular environment.

They are in constant need of adjustment. This manipulation of the system to respond to particular sentences gave the appearance of success. In much the same way, when a machine translation system is tuned to a set of sentences, various aspects of the machine translation system are adjusted in order to make the sentences translate the way the researcher wants them to. Dictionary entries are modified so that the words in the translation will be the ones desired.

Grammar rules are adjusted so that the test sentences will receive the desired analysis and generation. All these adjustments together constitute the tuning of the system to the needs of the test sentences. The problem occurs when another set of test sentences is fed into the machine translation system. Often, the new sentences produce horrible output. Then the system must be tuned to the new set of sentences. After working on several sets of sentences, one then tries the first set of sentences, which worked fine before, and it is discovered that they do not translate properly any more.

The adjustments for the subsequent sentences invalidated the processing of the first ones. This sort of tuning is not so much avoided in cyborg translation as it is internalized. The system becomes self-regulating, or homeostatic. When problems arise, the system adjusts. This is, after all, what stand-alone human translators used to do; cyborg translators now do it more effectively. It is an historical irony that the key frustration for MT researchers was not that their machines seemed unable to keep adjusting to the translation problems encountered; they were not thinking cyborgically.

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Their frustration rather was that natural non-domain-specific language seemed to resist their every attempt to reduce it to a single set of universalized rules that could be learned once and for all by a digital computer. They thought adjustment was a necessary evil, a somewhat embarrassing transitional stage preceding the advent of universalized linguistic logarithms.

Adjustment is the name of the game. Homeostatic adjustments should be autonomic. Similarly, if the cyborg translator must constantly be making conscious adjustments in processing methodologies, it is difficult to focus on the text, the deadline, and other professional matters. Bring all the separate parts together into a single organizational complex, integrate them into a system. Make the system function homeostatically, constantly adjusting to changes in its environment.

Make those adjustments autonomic, automatic, never or rarely requiring the system to stop and pay attention to them. Let the result extend natural human function and agency out into the world in facilitative ways, enabling both enhanced efficiency in the performance of existing tasks and breakthrough creativity in the invention or discovery of new tasks.

Mozart, "Eine kleine Nachtmusik. A patient in his mids is walking around the room wearing a virtual reality headset, muttering to himself. The camera follows him from over the psychiatrist's left shoulder. She watches his progress on a 21" console monitor with three windows open: The psychiatrist watches for a few minutes, increasingly bothered by something. Finally she reaches a decision. Could you sit down for a moment?

The patient stops, looks around carefully, lowers himself gingerly to a sofa.

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Why do you think you feel that way? He never listens, even when he knows we're right. His communication skills are nonexistent. He's afraid of people, especially people more competent than he. At the slightest hint of tension or anger he shuts down, refuses to deal with the problem. There's one guy who'll always take the boss's side.

Neurotic symbiosis with authority. You know the sort. Does your boss remind you of your father? My father was a good, decent man. I could always talk with him. This guy's a dickhead. The psychiatrist taps the monitor screen, disturbed. The running translation has followed the patient's vocalizations almost verbatim.

As she ends the session and the patient removes the headgear and prepares to go, she runs her finger down a list of phone numbers till she stops on "Translator Repair. The patient has his coat on and is ready to leave. The camera follows as he shakes hands with the doctor and walks down the hall to the receptionist's desk to pay, then out the front door. Only when he is safely out in the street does he turn to the camera and smile, beckoning us closer with a crooked forefinger.

He reaches in his pocket and pulls out what appears to be a pet rock. I came close to losing my job based on a negative psychiatric evaluation. Even my boss's boss is convinced that the real problem is the dickhead's poor communication skills! Cut to product still of the ZD Psychiatric Translation Jammer in three different disguises, the pet rock that we've just seen in action, a rabbit's foot, and a television remote. And it blocks machine translation of unconscious material effectively anywhere, without being detected.

Great for work and school, as well as the shrink's office! I think about how almost everyone in urban societies could be seen as a low-tech cyborg, because they spend large parts of the day connected to machines such as cars, telephones, computers, and, of course, televisions. I ask the cyborg anthropologist if a system of a person watching a TV might constitute a cyborg.


  1. CBT for Psychosis: A Symptom-based Approach (The International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis Book Series)?
  2. The Twelve Days Of Christmas;
  3. Doug Robinson: Cyborg Translation.

When I watch TV, I feel like a homeostatic system functioning unconsciously. I also think sometimes there is a fusion of identities between myself and the black box. A low-tech cyborg for Hess is simply any ad hoc or temporary human-machine interface, like driving a car or watching television. Or sitting down to the computer to translate.

It is in many ways a technological marvel in its own right. But there are many things it simply cannot do without a human partner. But the car with a human driver or the human driver with a car can do all those miraculous things. And the human sitting at the computer or the computer run by a human can translate. Together they form a temporary low-tech cyborg. More importantly, the kind of systemic thinking explored by cyborg theory is increasingly endemic to our society.

We still do engage in petty border wars with machines; but even in our own strategic thinking about those wars, we are losing. Losing not in the sense of losing ground, feeling the boundaries being moved uncomfortably close, but in the sense rather of blurring the boundaries in our own minds.

Sandy Stone, in her article in The Cyborg Handbook , tells the story of discussing virtual communities with some of her colleagues. They both recognize and refuse to recognize the blurring of boundaries in their own thought. They recognize that blurring with their thumb and deny it with their words.

And they know that without the automated functions of their computer even conceived as free-standing machines, without internet access they could not translate fast enough to make a living. What cyborg theorists are calling for in all of the various fields where its paradigms are proving revolutionary is a deliberate blurring of those boundaries.

Gary Lee Downey, for example, in anthropology: According to the editors of The Cyborg Handbook , cyborg technologies take four different forms: Cyborg translators are currently thought of almost exclusively as enhancing: And there is no reason why cyborg translation should be anything more than enhancing. Still, trying to imagine how cyborg translation might fit the other categories as well may prove heuristically productive. A restorative cyborg translator technology, for example, would seek to replace translation function in a system that had lost it, like fitting an amputee with a prosthetic limb; and in some sense that is in fact what happens when a noncyborg translator becomes computer-literate, enters the world of cyborg translation.

In the same way, computer-aided translation CAT is constructed on the image of a translator at a computer: But this is only the lowest level of cyborg automation. At a higher systemic level, things become more complex, and more interesting. Obviously, as I suggested earlier, you cannot simply automate a car and turn it loose on the highway. Our current road system was built for cars with human operators low-tech semicyborg vehicles.

In this infrastructure, the human operator is essential. If we want to enhance the machine contribution to agency, we have to rethink and redesign the infrastructure. We need roads with tracking and positioning systems, so that the car can stay between the lane lines, change lanes safely, and turn or stop appropriately at intersections.

And the same kind of thinking could be applied to cyborg translators, specifically hypercyborg translators operating at a higher level of generality than a human translator sitting at a computer. What is the infrastructure in which disaggregated translation agencies function?

A publications manager at a large manufacturing firm needs a document translated: The entire disaggregated translation agency would include, just in terms of human bodies, at least one project manager, one editorial assistant, one research resource person, and one freelance translator; larger jobs might involve two or more of each, plus new bodies like financial managers or communication managers.

These human bodies would be variously hooked up to computers and telephones and, through them, to internet resources like on-line databases and e-mail listservs. Some of the computers would be personal units, outfitted with a free-standing operating system and various software packages, especially for word-processing, term-management, cross-platform conversions, web-browsing, and e-mail; others would be LANned, hooked into local-area networks, with mainframe support. Special hypercyborg connections may be set up: How might listservs and webboards be adapted to the communicational needs of hypercyborg translators?

How might on-screen copy-editing software be modified for the creation and editing of collective texts, with emendations flagged and coded for historical sequence? One of the most cumbersome aspects of collective or hypercyborg translation today is that, while the target text is being created, it exists on different computers and in different heads in various versions and fragments that are exceedingly difficult to collate and compare: Hypercyborg translation might generate a hypertextual environment that is densely linked and layered for lexicographical and editorial history and made instantaneously available to all participants in the hypercyborg agency at every stage of the textualization process.

The clientele is mostly human, the servers five-foot-tall silvery lizard-like bipeds with a vermillion stripe down their backs. Pan across the dining room, then zoom on two human women at a table. Everybody keeps raving about ganthan food, but Bob won't come with me. You know Bob, foreign food for him is pizza. The Vulfan's True Mate. The Dragon Claims His Treasure. An Alien to Die For. Snowed in with the Alien Warlord.

Snowed in with the Alien Beast. Hunted by the Dragon Duke. Short Tales from Zerconian Warrior Series. Bonding with the Beast Kindred Tales. Alien and the Wedding Planner. Three of a Kind. The Meltdown Part II. Unmask My Heart A Novella. Culture Clash SciFi Adventure. Extinction Level Event Part I.

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