At LockerGnome.net, ClosetFuturist writes:
Are we cyborgs? The short answer may seem to be no, but how much do we use man-made devices for interaction with our environment and each other? I recently read a paper on Spacetime Embedded Intelligence and, though it’s a little over my head, it has me thinking about how our notion — that the breaking of the skin is where physical integration begins — could be based more on our perception than reality. In the game Deus Ex, there was social upheaval over integration. I’m becoming more and more skeptical of that idea not only because of my education on the matter, but also with the new technologies like bone conduction head phones. I’m thinking that integration will occur right under our noses and by the time we realize it, it will be too late. Maybe it already has. What are your thoughts?
Interesting question, and one that will undoubtedly become a huge talking point as devices like Google Glass become available on the consumer market. Technology is becoming increasingly pervasive, and it’s easy for us to forget just how much we rely on smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers to get things done. Our toothbrushes are more commonly becoming electric, and the clothes we wear, as well. How many times have you seen a shirt with an electrical component that either detects Wi-Fi, plays a sound, or does some type of touch-activated response? Would you have seen these five or more years ago? Jackets, hats, and hoodies are increasingly being made with integrated pockets and accouterments made specifically for smartphones and other electronic devices.
According to Amber Case during her TED Talk, we are all cyborgs already. Is this true?
Technology is all over, and I shudder to think about what the world would be like in the aftermath of an EMP where we suddenly lose the ability to communicate and/or work with these types of devices. We rely more and more on technology to talk to one another. Whether or not this is healthy, it’s becoming an increasingly common sight to see two teenagers standing within a short distance of each other texting rather than speaking. Are we becoming cyborgs? Not quite yet, but we are undoubtedly becoming more dependent on our electronic devices.
There are some legitimately cyborg-like technologies emerging that would break the skin and make us more one with the machines we carry. Implantable RFID microchips (whatever your political or health concerns with them may be) would enable us to use our arm as a storage and security device. There are already plenty of patents on the technology outlining its use as a storage medium for medical records.
Where Google Glass gives us a start in truly integrated wearable HUDs (heads up display); the same technology on a contact or even implanted at the ocular nerve level may not be as far away as you might believe. There are implantable technologies available right now that allow some deaf people who have never heard a sound in their lives to hear. The same can be said for technologies designed for the blind. Are they cyborgs because they have implanted technology that enhances their otherwise inoperable senses? Perhaps, but this is a definition best held by the individual.
Cybernetics have long been a topic associated with science fiction. However, when science fiction becomes a reality, the fact might very well remain that a day when cyborgs (who likely won’t be called that in reality) are commonplace is close at hand.
I’d like to throw this question out to you, the reader. Would you take an implantable technology if it allowed you to improve one of your senses or integrate some function typically associated with a smartphone or storage device into your being? Would you take an implantable microchip if it meant having your medical records or ID forever stored on your person?