🕙 3 min read
Back again with a 3-minute dose of curiosity. This time we’re taking a quick delve into the world of Cyborgs and Transhumanism, to learn about Humans 2.0.
A Cyborg is classified as ‘a fictional or hypothetical person whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by mechanical elements built into the body’. But cyborgs are no longer a speculative idea. Nope, they are here.
Now we have some of the technology to merge our squishy, watering bags of flesh with machine parts, how far have we come? And what do cyborgs look like in 2017?
Introducing, the Transhumanist movement…
Transhumanism, often represented at H+ (human plus), is a movement which aims to improve our abilities by ‘enhancing the human condition’ with robotic parts. They have a political group, a research institute and their very own social network.
There are a number of Transhumanist who have gained the attention of the public in the past 5 years. One name you may recognise is Zoltan Istvan.
Zoltan made headlines after he decided to run for the US presidency in 2016 and then travelled across America in a giant bus shaped like a coffin called ‘The immortality bus’. Needless to say, he didn’t get many votes (sadly a different lunatic won) but he did raise the awareness of transhumanism as a concept. His main approach is creating the next generation of humans which can live forever.
Ok so we have this wacky fellow, but Transhumanism is not a crazy concept is it. We have become 100% ok with pumping our bodies with filler or forcing silicon into our breasts to ‘enhance’ them, so it is only nutters who believe we can grow our abilities by merging with computers?
Seems it is not. Next, let’s meet Bryan Johnson.
Hi, Bryan. Bryan was the techy mastermind behind payment solutions company Braintree which was sold to eBay for a cool $800 million. Since then Bryan set-up Kernel.
Kernel is to me, the epitome of what human-computer integration should be aiming to achieve. They are a team of genius neuroscientists and computer scientists aiming to better understand and treat neurological issues such as Parkinson’s, depression and anxiety. They plan to use teeny weeny microchips to hack our brains and tackle the rise of neurological disease. Biohacking for good, I love it. But no doubt this is an entry point for the company and as they develop they will look to pursue more generalised ‘human improvement’. If you like the sound of computer-brain interfaces, keep an eye on these guys.
Lastly, on this whistle-stop tour, we will meet someone who already is a cyborg, Neil Harbisson. “If we want to survive for thousands or hundreds of thousands of years, we need to change our bodies,” Harbisson says in an interview to Codebreaker.
Neil was born completely color-blind. As he began his life in the arts, he worked with doctors to have an antenna (yep a full-on antenna) implanted to his skull to reconstruct his lost sense. The antenna works by picking up the colours around him and translating them into tiny vibrations which Neil has learnt correspond to colours. He feels these through the bone conductions of the chip associated with the antenna.
But that is not all it does, since getting the implant in 2004 he has made many software upgrades to improve its function. One lastest escapade is allowing an internet connection so 5 of his friends can input colours to his chip and manipulate his dreams. He has even gone above the colour spectrum normal humans can see and he can hear colours such as ultra-violet. He now helps others who want to become cyborgs through The Cyborg Foundation. That’s some future shit right there.
So there you go, a 4 minute-mind-fuck tour of Cyborgs and Transhumanism. What do you think? Would you have your body hacked to improve yourself? IIf you’re still curious I will be following this up with the craziest 5 bio-hacks coming soon.