Cyborgs among us

A cybernetic organism – or cyborg – is a being with both biological and artificial parts; a biological life form with metal, robotic, electrical or mechanical enhancements. Now I realize it sounds like science-fiction, but what if I were to tell you that cyborgs not only walk among us, but that you could become one too?
Enter the world of bio-hacking and the transhumanism movement. Transhumanism – shortened to H+ – is an international school of thought that looks to understand and promote opportunities for enhancement of the human race through our advances in technology. Bio-hacking on the other hand, is a physical procedure born from the H+ movement, where the human body is enhanced through various procedures and technological advancements.
There are two ways you can look at bio-hacking. In its most literal sense, anyone who wears glasses could be considered a bio-hacker. People with braces, pacemakers or metal plates in their knees could all be bio-hackers – they all possess technology designed to enhance their bodies; however, any of the above listed examples are designed to normalize a condition – glasses enhance vision and a pacemaker regulates the beating of the heart, but not beyond human limitations – which is where bio-hacking and H+ differ from traditional science.
Lepht Anonym is the face of modern bio-hacking. A native of Scotland, Anonym has successfully performed multiple surgeries on herself without the use of anaesthesia. She has successfully implanted radio frequency identification (RFID) chips in her body and neodymium metal in her fingertips, which allow her to sense and feel electromagnetic fields. While perhaps a little extreme, this integral technology is truly bio-hacking – enhancing the human body beyond its regular limitations.
If Anonym is the face of modern bio-hacking, Professor Kevin Warwick of the University of Reading in the UK is the brain. A professor who has worked with artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and cybernetics, Warwick’s research is absolutely incredible.
Warwick is perhaps most famous for his Project Cyborg experiments in which he implanted an RFID chip in his arm, allowing him to open doors, turn on lights and computers without lifting a finger. Part two of this project involved Warwick surgically implanting an electrode array into the nerve fibres of his left arm, which allowed him to access a mechanical arm miles and miles away via the Internet, that would mimic his own arm’s movements.
But what does all of this mean for the average person? According to Warwick, in the near future, humans will be obsolete. He believes that once humans are able to successfully link their brains to a computer, a new age of humanity will begin. It’s hard to disagree with him when you think of some of the possibilities.
Take communication for example. Imagine being able to communicate more than just words? Warwick has said that compared to how complex our brains are, the main way we communicate – verbally – is ridiculous. If people could connect brain to brain they could share so much more, providing rich, vibrant communication and understanding. Thoughts, feelings, images, sounds and emotions would all be transferable from one’s mind into another.
Think if you were able to upload your thoughts and ideas to a computer or could download a novel into your brain. Who knows; it could be like The Matrix. You want to learn ju-jitsu, how to cook or how to fix your car? Download it to your brain! How about a stimulus that could help us utilize our brain’s full capacity? Or the ability to connect our brain to the Internet, with unlimited access to information?
The possibilities are endless. We are already moving towards becoming an even more technologically oriented and reliant society. With Smartphones, we’re always connected and with Cloud computing we can connect to a source from anywhere in the World. Most phones today are more powerful than computers from 15 years ago and they’re only going to get better.
Perhaps this is the next stage in our evolution or perhaps not, but if the technology exists some day, who can honestly say they would not want to possess it? I know that I would definitely want to, and if that means becoming a cyborg, then so be it; resistance is futile.

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