One of cyberpunk’s core themes is cybernetic augmentations as we attempt to transcend human limitations. Cyberpunk’s analysis is more than just cool body parts, however; it goes further to examine what it means to be human. How many parts can you replace and still retain your humanity? This relates to the functionalist (cybernetic) thought experiment called Washington’s ax.
George Washington’s ax that he fell apples trees with is in a museum. Over the years, the handle became damaged and was replaced. After moving the exhibition, the ax-head itself became damaged, and was also replaced. With both its parts replaced, is it still Washington’s ax? From a cybernetics perspective, yes, it is, because it still performs the same functions as his ax did before the parts were replaced (in this case historical preservation to solve the system’s problem of replicating culture). Thus, an augmented human is still a human, that is, unless you refuse to equate essence with function (such equation is typical of industrialized countries).
Tom Maddox, cyberpunk legend, originator of the term ICE, and friend of Gibson stated in an interview years ago with another party, "In Gibson's stuff, it seems to me that what the self is is sort of open to negotiation on a particular day." Gibson agreed.
A word frequency analysis creates the exemplary, algorithmic-produced augmentation sentence by combining all the below authors’ thoughts into one, Cybernetic augmentations merged him with a systematic machine connected to the net and lined in neon lights.
Let’s see how twenty top cyberpunk authors write about each appendage:Legs:
The wind slammed into Marcie, her legs working overtime to counter the effects and stop her being thrown to her death. It didn’t matter what cybernetics she had, nothing could compensate for a fall of over one thousand metres…Hundreds of tiny adjustments, micromovements, small twinges, they fired from the top of her thighs to where her ankles met her feet. It had taken her years to trust her synthetic parts, but the microprocessor’s calculations were always better than her own.
--Michael Robertson, The Blind SpotShe was augmented too. You should see the specs on these legs, all fucking eight of them. They'd fetch a nice price on the black market."
--Eric Malikyte, Ego Trip
A second Slider prowled the room like a cat, crouched slightly on her augmented hind legs, which resembled a tigers'.
--Nik Whittaker, Neon Cortex
It exposed a metal box that was fused to his spine, part of it jutting through a slit carelessly cut in his vest. It was military grade headwear but if he had acquired it new, those days were long gone, rust and blood mixing where metal met flesh. He manipulated some commands on a cybermesh palmscreen and small flares fired from his back toward the drones, leaving streams of white smoke in their wake.--Matthew A. Goodwin, Into Neon“This is a hospital, not an experimental robotics lab!” ...The ‘bed’ she had been reclining on had a narrow slice down the center of it that revealed a shining steel bath of blood-tinged neurosynth fluid. There were hundreds of connectors lying in the bottom of it, their flat, magnetic ends glistening in the fluorescent lighting…sprawling in a mass of electronic debris…that looked like something that should be powering a spaceship...”--Benjamin Fisher-Merritt, Welcome to the Machine (excerpt is within the context of spinal surgery)