Cyborg Revolution

19 May

It was Johann’s nice comment on my post about robots that inspired me to think a little further – about the literal fusion of man and machine, instead of simple coexistence.

For those of you who do not happen to be familiar with the term “cyborg” from science fiction or something, I’ll give an explanation (If you are an ‘insider’ you’re welcome to move on to the next paragraph!): The term “cyborg” was coined back in the 60ies by M. Clynes and N. Kline in their article “Cyborgs and Space” (which deals with the advantages of altered human beings in extraterrestrial environments). The word itself describes a being that is both biological and artificial. Going by that it is actually enough to have some (medicinal) implants in order to claim the cool title. (Referring to your grandmother as cyborg might provoke some funny associations though, since they are commonly portrayed in Sci-Fi as something like this, this…or that)

A cyborg as pictured in the cartoon "Ghost in the Shell"

Last time I was telling you about robots stepping out of fiction. Guess whose turn it is today?

Precisely – the cyborgs are coming! And they are a lot more Sci-Fi than a lady with a cardiac peacemaker, a gentleman with some dental implants and even Neil Harbisson!

I knew that scientists have been researching on upgrading human beings with chips, but I would not have expected, that technology to expand your brain actually already exists!

Yes I know you’ve been to through a lot of Sci-Fi today, while reading this post, but I’d strongly suggest watching one more vid, because it perfectly illustrates the synthesis of a human brain and a computer:

Well, how do you like that? I am asking, because scientists have developed a synthetic hippocampus! No kidding – here’s my source! Theodor Berger is the name of the guy who’s interviewed on his research team’s results of their experiments with “electronic device[s] programmed to duplicate the memory-encoding function” and “rats”. The next animals Berger’s team wants to try their luck with are primates. The long term goal of this study is being able to create “neural […] prostheses that might help the human victims of Alzheimer’s disease”

A cyber brain as pictured in the cartoon "Ghost in the Shell"

This sounds pretty good, right? But the problem with technological breakthroughs in general is, that the full impact of science does not entirely) lie in the in the hands of strictly virtuous people. Once the technology is there, it could be used to mind-control people, by influencing their actions through programmed ‘facts’ on their hard-ware, or even remote-control their actions directly by electromagnetic waves that mimic biological, neural signals.

And while people are debating about ‘ethics’, ‘threats’ and the future of ‘human beings’, Intel claims that pretty much all of us will be cyborgs by 2050. (And yeah they’ll be happy to sell you everything you need to become a full-fledged cyborg…)

So what about you? Are you one of those who can’t wait to turn yourself in a superefficient man-machine, or are you one of those who’d consider that ‘cheating’ and rather stayed ‘natural’?

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