Recognizes the Cyborg as a Moral Agent
In the animist world, spirits cannot be seen but they are regarded to have invisible bodies. Likewise in the Scriptures, spirit possesses a materiality and matter has a spirit. In line with this material- spiritual continuum, virtual reality, though seemingly non-physical, is embodied.
When we begin to reimage the human as cyborg, we recognize the computer or the mobile phone not simply as a tool but as part of the person’s embodiment. What is done in cyberspace and what is communicated to the person at the other end of the line is not devoid of a body. This applies in relation to three general cases.42 The first is when the cyborg employs technology to achieve non-virtual intentions (e.g., using the computer to steal another person’s real identity). This clearly affects another person’s body. A second case is when the cyborg utilizes technology to perform purely virtual intentions (e.g. “cyber rape”). Here the action appears to be “bodiless” thus seemingly harmless. Though “cyber rape” is not the same as real rape, the sharing of victims indicate (as in the famous case of cyber rape described by Julian Dibbell in his book My Tiny Life)43 that it does have negative effects on other bodies. Raping or forcing an avatar to do sexual acts with another avatar can humiliate or even traumatize the person behind the virtual persona with whom owners closely identify. A third case is when no other user is involved except the player. An example would be a cyborg playing the Japanese computer game Grand Theft Auto that encourages the player to rape computer-generated girls. Still, in this instance, it can be asked what evil structures in the social body a cyborg is reinforcing in patronizing these games and what sort of person the player is becoming in engaging in such play.44 The intuitive moral feeling that there is something wrong in “cyber rape” even if it is only virtual makes sense in the view of the person as a cyborg and of the virtual as embodied.
Spirited cyborg ethics helps clarify and discern how the Net should be used for communication, work, play and pleasure. As in the Japanese rinri ethics, there must be harmony between the spirit of the owner and his/her use of the internet; and from a Christian perspective, a union as well between God’s Spirit and the cyborg’s spirit.