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Anonymous Zombie: “Cybernetic Zombie that lives on in Cyberspace “

March 6, 2012

The 2011 opinion in Adams v Ford Motor refers to information and comments on the internet as “a cybernetic zombie that lives on in cyberspace”.

YOLANDA ADAMS, Appellant v. FORD MOTOR CO.
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
653 F.3d 299

Judge McKee wrote the opinion filed August 5, 2011, discussing the implications of negative information as it spreads on the internet:

the availability of the internet, modern search engines and web sites oriented toward allowing consumers to voice displeasure about experiences they have had exponentially increase the impact of such sanctions on a professional’s reputation and career. Moreover, such complaints are not unlike a cybernetic zombie that lives on in cyberspace long after any underlying dispute has been resolved — even if it is resolved to the ultimate satisfaction of the consumer (or client). See Daniel J. Solove, Privacy and Power: Computer Databases and Metaphors for Information Privacy, 53 Stan. L. Rev. 1393, 1412 (2001) (explaining that once information appears on the internet, it is impossible to erase it entirely because it creates “a permanent record of unparalleled pervasiveness and depth … almost everything on the Internet is being archived … little on the Internet disappears or is forgotten, even when we delete or change the information.”).

The case itself was an appeal of sanctions imposed on an attorney for his post-trial conduct. The attorney had contacted a juror after the trial and the Judge sanctioned the attorney. Judge McKee writing for the appellate court vacated that sanction because the attorney had not been given adequate notice or an opportunity to be heard. Incidentally, the underlying claims of the trial involved Yolanda Adams who “suffered a serious brain injury while driving a vehicle manufactured by Ford Motor Company.” Coincidence or not, Judge McKee (and/or his law clerk) had brains on the mind while introducing the phrase “cybernetic zombie” to the Federal Courts for the first time.

This wikia site called “Zombiepedia” lists “cybernetic zombie” amongst types of zombies and defines them as “corpses reanimated by cybernetic and technological means, not to be confused with a cyborg. Cyborgs are humans with robot parts.” So does that mean Star Trek Borg are just cyborgs? I always thought they were a little zombie’ish. Isn’s that question of humanity entirely the point? What about the Terminator? I also wonder about Darth Vader – could he be considered an example of cybernetic zombie? Although the Zombipedia site also includes “Star Wars Zombies” defined as “corpses reanimated through Sith Magic” so perhaps Vader is that, or some combination. Or maybe he’s not a zombie at all —

The question of humanity is essential to the zombie question. For Judge McKee, there is an inhuman zombie aspect in internet anonymous comments and the “permanent record of unparalleled pervasiveness and depth” that makes the denizens of cyberspace into zombie to be feared.
Locutus of Borg
“You Will Be Assimilated”
Vader Occupy

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