Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Your cybernetic options




I came across a few interesting news stories related to transhumanism.

They ranged from the speculative to the actual and even slightly amusing.

In an article entitled "Want to become a cyborg?" over at the UK's Daily Mail Online, we see a sort of overview on what cybernetic technologies may one day be available to augment the human experience.  The piece mainly focused on the "sexier" aspects of transhumansim, namely the developments in cybernetics that could make one "superhuman." Here's a very quick look at the technologies mentioned, even though I've discussed many of them here before:

-Lens implants for the eyes that not only enhance your vision (imagine being able to zoom in on what you're looking at) but allow you send and receive video messages with your eyes.

-Exoskeletons that enhance strength or as the article boasts like a circus crier, give you "the power to crush a car with one clench of the fist." I wouldn't exactly call this a work of cybernetics, that is unless the same capability were merged with  i-Limb technology (later mentioned in the article).

-And of course, the notions of neural interfaces and mind uploading.  That way, you circumvent the need for a body in the first place.

But being transhuman does not mean you don't have to be fashionable...even if there are those of us who seek transhuman states to get away from such concepts.  This article from the BBC describes how each morning Jozef Metelka must decide which leg he's going to wear. Pardon me for a moment as I ponder this.  The same way I sit and wonder which tie to go with my shirt, I could be deciding with cybernetic limb to use for the day.  Wow.

Although he lost his original leg in a motorcycle accident in 2009, Metelka now owns a collection of 12 different specially designed prosthetics that let him go snowboarding and mountain biking.  So the choice is not one purely out of aesthetics but also practicality.  In fact, you can read for yourself how much work goes into replacement limbs that will emulate human performance in specific circumstances such as sports.

Fear not however if you have a thirst for fashion that must be slaked.  The article goes on to mention the work of Sophie de Oliviera Barata who has created a gallery line of designer limbs and established herself as "the undisputed queen of personalized prosthetics." Her designs, however, given that they can come with crystals, jewels, and even laser pointers, are not cheap at about $4,000 a piece.

Little by little the Singularity is coming.  It might not be as glitzy as the kind gushed about in the Mail Online article, but it's happening.  As we continue to integrate technologies with our own bodies, whether by design or by necessity, that by definition is the Singularity.  In time, you'll just see my lifeless husk left behind as I've achieved a more permanent state that is unfettered by the needs of nutrition, exercise, grooming, and emotions.

Or so I tell myself.




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