What Makes Us Human?: Changing Ideas about the Future of Cyborg Technology in The Matrix

Do you think you could fall in love with a cyborg? You may already have. When The Matrix burst onto the screen in 1999, the technology involved in creating cyborg humans was no more than a futuristic fantasy. However, in 2021, when the fourth installment in the franchise, The Matrix Resurrections premiered in theatres, much of the tech seen in the imaginations of creators, fans, and those who identify as transhumans had become a physical reality. The non-human or not-completely-human beings in Resurrections are treated as companions, collaborators, friends, lovers. Little distinction is made between those born in Zion, and thus completely organic, and those who were pod-born and who are partially cybernetic. This presentation will take you on a journey through the franchise, analyzing the technology seen on screen vs that which is ready to be implanted into humans today, and examining the themes and tropes used in the films to blur the boundaries between us and them–human and machine, mind and AI, organic and synthient.


Rebecca Gibson’s published works include “Desire in the Age of Robots and AI: An Investigation in Science Fiction and Fact” (Palgrave Macmillan 2019), “The Corseted Skeleton: A Bioarchaeology of Binding” (Palgrave Macmillan 2020), and “Gender, Supernatural Beings, and the Liminality of Death: Monstrous Males/Fatal Females” (Lexington Books 2021). She holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from American University, and when not writing or teaching can be found reading mystery novels amidst a pile of stuffed animals.

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