the cyborg mystery

An extract from Richard’s Cyborg Mystery article, originally published in UFO Magazine in Nov-Dec 1998.

Experimentation into electro-mechanical control of human brain functions actually began as far back as the 1930s with the work of a Dr Walter Hess, but the concept of the cyborg (improving the human body by the addition or replacement of sophisticated artificial parts) really began to develop in 1960 due to the efforts of Dr Manfred Clynes, a neuropsychologist from Rockland State Hospital, New York.

Clynes, who had studied cybernetics, suggested in a proposal for the US space programme the concept of re-engineering humans to operate in space – without spacesuits. His vision for a cyborg spaceman included one fitted with intravenous pumps and slow release drug systems to automatically sustain the astronaut.

Cyborg Mystery page

Clynes says he abhors the modern cinematic image of the inhuman cyborg and believes that through cybernetics ‘human capacity can be extended, increased in desirable ways’ and that to achieve true success in space we must ‘equip man with exogenous components that would extend the self-regulating functions of the body… thus enabling the astronaut ‘to adapt to a fresh environment’.

In a fascinating 1996 BBC TV show Future Fantastic, Martin Caidin, author of Cyborg the novel which formed the basis for television’s The Six Million Dollar Man, made some astonishing claims for the reality of high level experimentation into cyborgs by the US military in the early 1970s.

In the Future Fantastic show, Caidin alleged that Cyborg was based upon actual events involving a US Air Force pilot who had been critically injured in a plane crash, and that the doctors who worked on him tried to save this unfortunate individual thinking that ‘we have nothing to lose, let’s try every new advance in science’Seemingly, the pilot not only recovered thanks to his new components (though Caidin does not specify what these were) but also flew again.

This case led to the creation of a major cybernetics programme by the US Air Force based upon, in Caidin’s words, ‘modifying the human being into a superior creature’. Service personnel acted as volunteers for medical procedures to turn them into cyborgs.

Caidin, who uses the term ‘we’ as if he were a part of the cybernetics team involved in the creation of cyborgs under the program, offered some intriguing words to close the interview – ‘we were ahead of the whole world… we were stunned at ourselves – we knew what was coming’.

He is referring to events that took place from 1970-72; one can only wonder at what advances have been made in the field since then.


The Cyborg Cometh – Channel 4 Television

Future Fantastic; Brave New Body – BBCtv

Searching For UFOs – Channel 5 Television

Projekt UFO – W.A. Harbinson (Boxtree)

Associated Press Web Site