Psi-borgs: The Ghost in the Machine



 Mankind remains highly fascinated by the paranormal activities and subsequent documentation of the same. These anomalies represent desired connection with the afterlife which is manifested through possession of physical matter in order to assert the presence of such paranormal forms. Throughout histories, numerous instances of paranormal activies have been documented proactively and accidentally which have inadvertently lent a hand to the controversial debate over the presence of such natural forces coexisting with humanity. Harvey’s article the Ghost in the Machine: Spirit and Technology details a unique history of the paranormal occurrences and how they shifted perception about ghosts and ghoulish characters (Harvey). He notes a steady trend in the interactions of such figures with humanity that started with one-to-one interactions resulting into personal tales of the encounters. Then trend persevered through history and remained a preserve for seers and mediums. Eventually, history indicates a sudden shift to modernised equipment such as the camera where paranormal figures appear in still images captured at the time. In Harvey’s words, “Psi-borgs’ have taken on a new way to review themselves to humanity which is majorly focussed on modern day technology.



 The apparitions that seldom rear their supernatural presence continue to intrigue humanity through their connections with the modern technology thus the terminology “Psi-borgs” that is used to describe them. These apparition`s apparent affinity to capture technology which in turn captures their essence is the base root for their comparison to the ideology behind the loose term “Cyborg”. This essay will attempt to answer several questions surrounding this unnatural relationship between the world beyond and today’s technological devices. The affordances mentioned will stem from exploration the rich history of interaction between the ghostly phenomenon and the affected technological devices. The apparent trending shift in preference for non human forms for manifestation will also feature in this essay. Conclusively, this essay will document the apparent relationship between humanity, paranormal anomalies and the machinery involved among the three entities with an aim to arrive at a conclusion over the matter.

 Preference for non human taunts

 Harvey’s article the Ghost in the Machine: Spirit and Technology succinctly covers the relationship between the gothic occurrences and the technological gadgets that are used to capture human form (Harvey, 52). Naturally, the stories of Ghosts and Ghoulish characters remained a part of the supernatural and often superstitious path that humanity rarely travelled upon. The stories of such occurrences remained confined to word of mouth for a considerable amount of time, the other forms of capturing them were impossible during that time in history. That particular time did not have the benefit of today’s high definition cameras that record high clarity videos and still images at the click of a button. In light of this, the evidences of haunting and paranormal activity took place through word of mouth. The events relied on the accounts of first hand witnesses who underwent an ordeal with an abnormal supernatural being.

 Of course, such occurrences were subject to the credibility of the witnesses who might decide to conjure up stories out of their own personal need for publicity or other uncertain reasons. Word of mouth was also susceptible to misinterpretation or misrepresentation that might distort the actual facts about the real occurrence and its origins (Schoonover 38). Such gross misrepresentation greatly distorted the facts; as such the invention of photography presented a great opportunity to delve into previously unchartered waters. Photography represented a possible shift in the type of evidence presented for the case of Ghosts, ghoulish figures and other paranormal activities. The emergency of photography also brought along with several new challenges that threw doubt onto the evidence produces supporting supernatural gothic activity. The fault in question still haunts humanity even to this day where machines with incredible abilities are abounded. Forging photography is an old technique that transcends decades of existence by humanity ( Essentially, individuals smart enough and have access to the right resources are able to doctor the final images rendered through photography thus denting their credibility by considerable margins.

 The lack of assured credibility distorts the veracity of ghost citing throughout history and of recent memories thus misleading the scores of interested parties. According to the information on, there are numerous techniques that could be employed successfully to alter images by include “ghost forms” onto a perfectly normal picture ( The normal picture acts s the foundation and the “ghostly image” is expertly mapped on to the image and Viola, a haunted image develops. takes an in depth into various techniques that are available to the hordes of humanity on online and offline platforms that enable them to doctor the final rendering in photographs thus blurring the line between false images and true images taken unknowingly ( The doctoring of such evidences is not a preserve of the sophisticated current technological devices. Instead, the malicious actions of trying to pass off false haunting images have been common occurrences since back in the annals of history. Harvey’s article highlights the actions of unscrupulous individuals looking to take advantage of the public by claiming to have captured paranormal activity.

 The Atlantic highlights one of the most notable individuals who took advantage of the lack of awareness at the time and the emotional need to commune with the dead. This individual named William Mumler, claimed to be a spirit photographer during his period and produced numerous pieces or portraits that depicted an eerie and grainy image of a spirit mapped onto the photograph of living individuals. The article when cameras took pictures of ghosts written by Megan Garber highlights various fraudulent endeavours undertaken by the same individual who took advantage of public ignorance (Garber He utilized various techniques to impose a second figure onto the photographs of innocent public members in the pretence of spirit photography. Eventually he was arrested and punished for his fraudulent actions of duping the public into purchasing doctored photographs under the disguise of spirit photographs. The details of this article affirm the claims by John Harvey about the murky boundary between spirit photography and fraudsters looking to make a quick buck off the public’s curious nature. The evidences presented brings into sharp focus the possibility of other doctored images previous passed off as actual evidence.

 Two types of Psi-borgs as discussed by John Harvey

 John Harvey’s articles describes two very distinct manifestations of Psi-borgs which seem to transcend technology by adapting to the changes and innovations achieved by mankind. The article narrates the occurrences of such paranormal activities through the lenses of a camera whose results appear in a still photograph (Harvey 52). He goes in depth by analyzing the images that show seemingly different life forms that appear in still images taken by different individuals. He also intimates about the ability of these supernatural life forms which seize the machines and makes the previously innate objects to exhibit life-like characteristics. The difference lies in the role of the device capturing the supernatural occurrence. On one end the camera is free from external forces caused by the supernatural forces thus it captures images or shapes by its own accord under the hands of the operator. On the other hand, the supernatural life forms take charge of the machines and impose their will on the same in order to produce truly baffling outcomes that intrigue mankind.

 Initially the presence of paranormal occurrences was restricted to still images which could be taken in the presences of what Harvey terms as sitters. Such images involved the subjects o the photograph and a third party in a seemingly gravity defying and logic-defeating position. The Ghosts and life forms captured during these moments were independent from the camera. The only mode of interaction on offer was the presence in the final rendering of the still images after developing the photographs. The Ghosts and various life forms only spooked the individuals being photographed after the event had already taken place. Photographers never reported any marked signs or events that indicated to supernatural presence in the room where the images were taken (Schoonover 40). This form of haunting was common at the initial stages of photography. Another feature of that period was the relatively standard feature of each image which involved a still and non moving representation of the paranormal anomaly being captured by accident. The images included the individuals being photographed motionless for a while until completion of the process awaiting development in the laboratory.

 A steady shift took place in the form of inclusion of relatively non static images which depicted the notion of movement. Such images manifested in the form of a blur which translated to capturing the images in the middle of their movements. Similar to the first category mentioned above, these life forms did not take up any directory roles thus the camera was left undisturbed in its functionality. The images merely shifted from a motionless state to being captured mid-motion. Such a state describe the second section of one of the sides of the “psi-borgs” concept presented by John Harvey when discussing the history of spirit photography and other significant occurrences when representing the shift in coverage of such images. It is notable that photography during this age relied on relatively crude representations of what the audience perceived as paranormal spurred on by stories and beliefs of a few. Later on this remote view of things would eventually change as humanity made strides forwards in terms of innovation of technology.

 The above-mentioned psi-borgs form one side of the categories discussed by Harvey in this article, the second category involves extensive interaction by supernatural forms. The apparition in this second category had a marked improved control over electronic devices which morphed the opinions of theme being part Cyborg. They could control machines easily thus making adding machinery into their repertoire of body parts. The machines they controlled represented the physical attributes that they could not posses when they remain strictly as the subject of the images taken in a laboratory. The apparitions of this age diversified through the supposed use of electricity and thus they could control basic electrical gadgets such TV sets, electric bulbs, the Radio system, the microwave and doors and windows. Such notions wee further carried by movies that detailed the horrors of being haunted by ghosts and similar apparitions. The movies portrayed a standard view of things from either side. Harvey mentions that the ghosts apparently took control of such devices in an effort to reach out and communicate with humanity or their intended target.

 The ability of the apparitions to control external objects mostly electronic objects present their “cyborg” nature to humanity. Numerous examples indicate Ghosts being responsible for moving objects around a house and switching on or off of electric equipment. Certain individuals also claim that the presence of ghosts creates a chilling effect that causes the hairs on the skin to stand up. One of the many explanations for this is that ghost could take up the power of electricity and turns it into predictable static electricity. The predictable static electricity would cause the hair on the body of the person next to the ghost to stand up thus sending a cold shiver down the spine of that person. The second category of the “Psi-borgs” essentially represents the same apparitions but with improved power over their environment and an improved array of subtle means of communicating with the real world. The apparitions thus present a unique feature of modern day haunting that Harvey succinctly covers through his article. The modern shift in trends could be directly attributed to the ever-changing landscape of the technological devices available to humanity at the present that makes them susceptible to commandeering by the ghosts.

 Affordances appropriated by spirits

 According to the article by Beenish Ahmed titled “Paranormal Technology: Gadgets for Ghost-Tracking”, there exist numerous devices that offer a perfect platform for manifestation of ghosts (Beenish n.p). These appliances are set up in such a manner that they are sensitive to ghost presence or paranormal activity. The machines are constructed in such a manner that they would record what human beings perceive as the confines that constitute paranormal activity. However, apart from the obvious tools mentioned in the article discussed above, ghosts have the tendency to take control and commandeer an array of technologically enhanced appliances and thus manifest their forms. The discussions contained in Harvey’s article indicate that ghosts are likely to take hold of the TV set and manipulate the frequency being transmitted to suit their chosen wavelength. The narrations given in the article indicate that the ghosts could essentially shut out other frequencies in order t broadcast their own to the targeted audience. Sometimes the messages might be incoherent while sometimes they could be clear as day.

 The other affordance are available to the visitors from the next life is the radio and the electric bulbs. Neither of these appliances are particular susceptible to paranormal activities, however, instances of a ghost taking over a radio wavelength are abound in history with certain individuals insisting that they heard coherent sounds emerging from the said appliances. Other devices such as the CCTV cameras are also among the list of appliances that could be manipulated by the supernatural power of the ghost such that the cameras will inexplicable lose focus; electrical flashlights will flicker the same way as the bulbs. The presence of these ghosts manipulates the electrical currents flowing in that specific area thus the abnormal behaviour displayed by the electrical appliances that cross into the scope of the ghostly image. These appliances remain under the complete control of the ghost or the invincible life forms that control it to the awe and intrigue of the human race.

 Ghosts are also able to interact with other non electrical objects such as doors and windows which tend to cause panic among those who experience such instances. The article the ghost in the machines: spirit and technology also intimates that ghosts have been known to push doors, cupboards or windows as they traverse the regions around such areas (Harvey 62). To the naked eye these events take place in an illogical sequences such that a doors begins moving and creaking loudly without any explicable reason. Certain occurrences have been known to indicate that ghosts tend to suspend or levitate objects in the air in order to achieve a certain level of cyborg ability that is just plainly spooky. These affordances underline the nature of the interaction of the Psi-borgs that John Harvey addresses through the entirety of his article. In hindsight, the materials used to track ghosts are also highly susceptible to developing cyborg characteristics given their sensitivity to such supernatural occurrences. These instruments could also be used by the ghosts and ghoulish figures to act out their innate actions which give ghost hunters and the investigators the perfect proof of existence and interaction of such gothic figures with life.

 Which of those affordances are ghostly

 All the affordances mentioned above are neither ghostly nor ghoulish in nature; this is because they are all human made in nature. The instruments mentioned by Beenish’s article do not posses any specific ghost-like characteristics that would categorically label them as “ghostly”. Instead those machines and gadgets are structured and set up in such a specific manner that they are inclined to record details as required (Beenish The parameter captured by such gadgets record the findings that constitute the essentials of what human beings perceive as supernatural activities that are gothic in nature. Human perception, for instance, limits the concepts of ghosts to white-silhouettes life forms that do not conform to gravity thus any instruments modelled upon that impression is likely to be limited to such parameters. Such perceptions are the result of years of experience and blatant horror movies that fail to inspire radical change in how humans view ghosts (Sparks, Leigh and Rose, 351).

 How the affordance change the manifestation of the apparitions

 The machines that are available to the apparitions and the level of manoeuvrability that they offer have an overlying impact on how they manifest to human beings. An instance of this is observable through the TV or radio set that inexplicably looses the designated channel and begins exhibiting characteristics of a possessed entity. An electronic device of such a calibre does not impact the manifestation of apparitions since most individuals will consciously dismiss it off as bad reception or simply as a faulty TV or radio set. However, the instruments highlighted by Beenish’s articles posses a unique aspect about them in the sense that they are able to portray the ghost in their bare supernatural nature through various methods. Such instruments alter the manifestation of the ghosts from a freak occurrence into an intriguing event worth investigative pursuit. Given that ghosts and ghoulish figures have taken a trend to major on technology, the affordances on offer have a major impact on the impressions created. When a ghost takes control of a machine such as the light bulb and makes ominous frequencies of darkness and light, humans are hardwired to assume the worst of the situation.

 Instances of ghosts or apparitions taking over certain instruments or machines have the potential to change how the manifestations take shape. Some of the activities of the paranormal come off as threatening to the well being of mankind. For instance, when a gas cylinder becomes innate under the control of a supernatural being then the event transforms from a strange occurrence to a potential dangerous one as an explosion might ensue and humans will suffer the consequences.


 Retrospectively, paranormal activities or the thought of such has been central to humanity for a considerable time. This is clearly supported by John Harvey’s article which details the infatuation with the other side which dates to historical times dating before the invention of a camera and eventually photographs. Human fascination with such occurrences have generally steered the general direction taken by mediums of manifestations as seen through spirit photography and spirit audiography that were central to such themes. The ability of the apparitions to morph into psi-borgs was down to their “ability” to manipulate images and occurrences as they attempted to communicate and subsequently reach out to the humans. Consequently, such occurrences manifest differently depending on the kind of medium used by the apparition.