The first humans took sticks and stones and began to use tools to increase their abilities. Today the tools are just a little bit smaller, and we use technology to improve our connection to the world through our laptops or computers.
Human enhancement becomes a more tangible reality when we talk about a person with a pacemaker, an artificial hip or a brain chip, which in science fiction is akin to a Cyborg.
It is the fusion of an organic being and a machine, perfectly represented in the cinema in Terminator.
Today, the boundary between technology and reality is becoming increasingly blurred.
In the future, it is not difficult to imagine the total disappearance of this frontier – when man and technology will merge and become inseparable.
Cyborg technology has progressed to the point where it can be said that bionic humans are no longer the object of science fiction. They live among us.
For example, here are some real-life cyborgs, individuals who have voluntarily or involuntarily become half human, half machine.
The artist Neil Harbisson was born with achromatopsia, an extreme colour blindness that prevented him from seeing in black and white, he is now able to experience colours beyond normal human perception.
Harbisson is equipped with an electronic eye, or eyeborg, which restores the perceived colours as sounds on the musical scale. In other words, his device allows him to “hear” colours. He has adapted so much to this device that his brain has formed new neural pathways that allow him to develop an advanced type of perception.
After a while, all the information he was receiving via his electronic eye became perception, and at a recent TED conference he said, “When I started dreaming in colour, I felt that the software and my brain had come together”.
Another example is cybernetics professor Kevin Warwick at the University of Reading in the UK, who is using himself as a guinea pig because he wants to become the world’s most complete cyborg.
He has been experimenting with different electronic implants since 1998, when he “installed” a microchip in his arm that allows him to remotely control doors, lights, heaters and other computers as he moves from room to room.
In short, the future of home automation!
As for Jesse Sullivan, he became one of the world’s first cyborgs when he was equipped with a bionic limb, connected by a nerve-muscle graft. Not only can Sullivan control his new limb with his mind, but he can also feel the heat, cold and amount of pressure his grip exerts.
One woman, Claudia Mitchell, became the first woman to become a cyborg when she was given a bionic limb. Her robotic arm is similar to the one installed on Jesse Sullivan. The limb is connected to her nervous system, allowing her to control it with her mind.
Jens Naumann who after two accidents was blind in both eyes became the first person in the world to receive an artificial vision system. His electronic eye is directly connected to his visual cortex through brain implants. Unlike other cyborg implants, which translate visual information such as sound or touch, Naumann actually “sees” the world. Although he has his limitations (he can only vaguely see lines and shapes), his vision has been technically restored.
In short, these works, these improvements are necessary and welcome when we talk about disease, disability and progress is incredible since the first implantations of electrodes in the cochlea in the 60s for deafness or pacemakers in the 90s.
Developments in augmentation have incredible potential in areas such as the artificial heart, implants in the brain for Parkinson’s disease or nano robots targeting tumours in our bodies.
In the near future, these technologies will be used not only to be healthier and live longer, but also to become more human, smarter, healthier and happier.
In fact, neuroscientists, bioethicists, philosophers, anthropologists and sociologists are meeting in symposia on the subject of transhumanism and they are discussing technological progress in order to improve mankind with the help of technology.
Many works on transhumanism are funded by companies such as Google, Facebook and NASA.
Even if not everyone shares this enthusiasm for the “technological” future of the human species, let’s bet that this technological sector has a very bright future ahead of it and will see fantastic advances in the near future.
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