Cyborg Botany

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While we tend to think of cyborgs as human-machine splices, any organic system combined with a mechanical system qualifies as a cyborg. Cyborg Botany refers to the complexly intertwining evolutions of human techno-culture and plant life. The concept fundamentally questions whether we control plants or plants control us. The situation is analogous to the question of the dog owner: If we own our dogs, why are we the ones paying for everything and picking up their excrement?

In the Botany of Desire, Michael Pollen uses an evolutionary framework to question the true state of modern gardening. The paradigmatic example is the case of Cannabis, a weed from East Asia that has become an international plant celebrity. Cannabis evolved a host of chemicals that caused medical and spiritual effects in humans, causing humans to bring it to all seven continents and cultivate thousands of different strains. When governments tried to eradicate its growth, gardeners met this challenge with hydroponic systems, powerful lights, and advanced cooling systems to grow the plant indoors. The cannabis of today is far more potent because of the advanced technologies utilized to grow this plant. Potent cannabis is effectively a plant cyborg, complete with computer-controlled temperature regulation, filtered water, artificial suns, perfectly concocted vitamin supplements, and humans to carefully monitor and continually research the entire process.

Pollen, Michael. Botany of Desire