From cyborgs to cyberbodies: The evolution of the concept of techno-body in modern medicine

Andrea Gaggioli, Marco Vettorello, Giuseppe Riva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper focuses on the ways in which the introduction of technologies in modern medicine is changing collective notions of the body. In particular, it describes two popular and imaginative conceptualizations of the body that have been inspired by progresses made by medical technologies during last century: the cyborg, and the cyberbody. Although these two models stem from the same post-modern philosophical post-body, post-biological, or post-human visions, they are characterized by a fundamental distinction. While the cyborg, at least in its original conception, is linked to the "wild wired world", the world of cells, neurons, blood and biological processes, the cyberbody can be defined as a wireless, inorganic entity, made of pure bits of information. However, both definitions assume that people no longer has a direct sense of body, but a mediated sense of body. Further steps in this direction may be determined by the emerging technological paradigm of Ambient Intelligence. In this vision, people will be surrounded by intelligent and intuitive interfaces embedded in everyday objects around us and an environment recognizing and responding to the presence of individuals in an invisible way by year 2010. Although the Ambient Intelligence scenario is still in an early phase of development, it is somehow predictable that technological innovations that this paradigm will bring into medicine are likely to foster the production of a new collective notion of the body based on the "digital me": a virtual reality representation of the patient as a virtual person, integrating all the diagnostic and clinical information of the patient into a single record continuous across time. In addition to explore this perspective from a theoretical viewpoint, implications for medical practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-86
Number of pages12
JournalPsychNology Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • Cyberbody
  • Human body
  • Medicine
  • Sense of body
  • Vepsy updated

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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