Life as a cyborg: Discovering a new reality with artificial senses

Technology is an all-pervasive phenomenon in today’s modern world, and we, as a society, are under its clutches. Since the late 1970s, continuous efforts are being made to come up with innovations in the field of technology that can aid in human functioning. Terms like machine learning and artificial intelligence have become the key jargon of contemporary times, having a huge influence on social evolution and challenge our imagination with ideas that once seemed impossible. One such phenomenon is cyborg art or cyborgism, which has become a reality among us.

The origin of the term ‘cyborg’, which is a shortened version of ‘cybernetic organism’, can be traced back to 1960 when Manfred Clynes and Nathan S Kline coined it. It denotes any organism having body parts that are both organic and biomechatronic. The cyborg art movement is one where the artists express themselves through the creation of new senses or extending their senses beyond the human physical boundaries by merging cybernetics with their own organism. By virtue of this artwork taking place inside the body of the cyborg artist, they are the only audience of their art.

The exponential growth of technologies integrated into human bodies is evident when just last month the technological mastermind, Elon Musk, disclosed the first details of an electronic brain implant developed by his company Neuralink, ‘to facilitate direct communications between people and machines.’

To get more insight into this subject, on the latest Cyborg Special episode on Financial Fox, host & presenter Stefania Barbaglio engages in a conversation with Barcelona based perceptual artist, Manel Muñoz, who is best known for developing and installing in his own body a cybernetic sensory organ that allows him to perceive the atmospheric changes from his surroundings. Manel Munoz talks about what inspired him to become a cyborg and an unusual way of feeling things around you and perceiving reality.

Muñoz explains how the process of understanding the relationship between the inputs received from the barometric organ and the actual weather conditions needs continuous learning over time, and for that reason, he calls these acquired senses as ‘artificial senses.’

Artificial senses are quite different than artificial intelligence, but they share the root of in-building technology into a process that is primarily human. The Neil Harbisson and Moon Ribas led Cyborg Foundation created in 2010 clarifies the difference between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Artificial Senses (AS) in a simpler way, saying that the artificial senses happen when technology gathers the stimuli but the human creates the intelligence- as opposed to Artificial Intelligence where the machine itself creates the intelligence.

Cyborg Munoz says he can feel changes in the weather because of his artificial senses: ‘If the organ was giving me the weather forecast, this would be artificial intelligence, because I don’t need to think about what the forecast will be. But, in my case, I am using or I am having artificial sense because this is giving me like a new input that, maybe with experience, I will learn how the atmospheric pressure works and I will be able to learn and predict the weather,’

Harbisson and Ribas further explain how by designing new senses, our experience of reality becomes much deeper as it is through our senses itself that we perceive the world. That is why the Cyborg Foundation aims for Revealed Reality, and not Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality.

Unlike virtual reality, where things and scenarios are a projection and represent an unreal situation, revealed reality encompasses the perception of new dimensions and flows of energy that co-exist in our reality.

Thus, what the cybernetic organs and senses do is they help the cyborg artists in grasping an already existent reality around humans that is otherwise not possible to perceive because of the limitations of the biological body.

Applying this to his own case, Muñoz explains, ‘I am not inventing this atmospheric pressure around me. That already exists around me. But before having this new organ, I wasn’t able to perceive it in this way. So, I am just augmenting the boundaries of my body to be able to perceive more things that are already happening me. I am just reviewing my reality through this organ. Over time, I will be able to better interpret the inputs from my organs and ultimately fully develop a new sense. It is a learning progress also for me. Technology is helping me, it is not giving me answers.’

With technology growing through such massive leaps and bounds, and human beings getting increasingly attached to the idea of connecting everything to the internet, we can only sit back and wait to see what more the future has in store for us.

Follow us on @Cassiopeia_ltd and @_FinancialFox for more intriguing interviews. Stay tuned!

CYBORGISM: HANDSHAKE BETWEEN HUMANITY AND TECHNOLOGY, FROM REEL LIFE TO REAL LIFE

Science fiction movies and books have long depicted various future scenarios. Since the release of Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Man That was Used Up’ in 1839, regarded as the oldest record of ‘man meets machine’, the idea of embedding technology into human behaviour has always intrigued the most curious minds. Movies and sci-fi tales have captured the audience’s imagination, blurring the lines between fiction and the ‘real’ future. It is therefore not surprising that the human desire to integrate with technology is now becoming a reality.

Playing around with ground-breaking technology concepts, cyborgs have established themselves as a part of pop culture’s collective consciousness. A cyborg is defined as a fictional or hypothetical person whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations via mechanical elements built into the body.

Today, we have already started marching towards an era where the fine line separating science and fiction has started to erode. The millennials of the 21st century are bold enough to experiment with biomechatronic body parts, which has brought the concepts of ‘super powers’ and ‘super humans’ closer to reality.

Cyborgs are a prime example of technology’s integration with humanity. Desire for the ability to enhance one’s perceptions and the value of self-sovereignty have also contributed to an unprecedented rise in cyborgism over recent years.

It is a well-known fact that some animal species have highly developed and powerful sensory organs which can aid their survival: sharks can detect electromagnetic fields, dolphins can hear through their bones, bats can ‘see’ through sound and so on. In parallel, the surge in cyborgism gives hope to the belief that cyborgs may help increase the survival rate and adaptive qualities of humans in threatening conditions.

This week on the FinancialFox, our presenter Stefania Barbaglio is interviewing Manel Muñoz: a Catalan cyborg artist based in Barcelona, who has been credited with developing and installing barometric sensors in his body. The first of its kind in the world, he uses the sensors to detect atmospheric pressure changes through pressure variations felt in his skull.

Muñoz studied contemporary photography in Barcelona and became Cyborg Foundation’s artist in residence in 2016. In 2017, he co-founded the Transpecies Society, an association that offers the creation of new senses and new organs within a community, gives voice to people who do not identify as being 100% human, and raises awareness on issues they face.

The aim of extending human senses beyond the the physical barrier by introducing/integrating technology into our bodies is to deepen the human experience of reality. The goal is to reveal reality, which is distinct from Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in that true reality is increasingly revealed to us through an enhanced body. You could call it ‘superpower’, but more accurately, it is the ability to create and shape our bodies and unlock opportunities towards a new generation of “improved humans”.

Cyborg art is based on the idea that a person is free to change their body and perceptions. More specifically, they are in charge of shaping their own perceptions.

Recently, there has also been a lot of activity in the fields of neuroscience and neurotechnology. Elon Musk, the millionaire entrepreneur, has invested £100mln in Neuralink, a company which is developing electronic brain implants to facilitate direct communication between people and machines. Such has been the progress and advancement in the integration of humans with technology that it won’t be a surprise when, in a few years from now, people start taking examples from ‘reel’ life into real life.

With so many developments and innovations on the horizon, there is a need to regulate the protocols for such technology to evolve and be sustainable. At present, various challenges are faced by cyborgs and cyborgism. For instance, society at large may still not be ready to deal with the idea of installing foreign objects in one’s body. Moreover, it also raises questions around freedom of choice and progress, so it is valid to study and analyse more deeply the impacts of having technology interacting so closely with the human body. As with any ground-breaking technological development, information and educative material are needed to ensure society can enjoy the benefits and make progress.

There are a lot of blurred areas and unanswered questions in relation to cyborgism and technology being applied to humans. We will be trying our best to shed some light on and gain insight into this fascinating area. Please make sure you subscribe to our channel to watch the video on its release this Thursday, 5pm UK time.

CYBORGISM: HANDSHAKE BETWEEN HUMANITY AND TECHNOLOGY, FROM REEL LIFE TO REAL LIFE

Science fiction movies and books have long depicted various future scenarios. Since the release of Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Man That was Used Up’ in 1839, regarded as the oldest record of ‘man meets machine’, the idea of embedding technology into human behaviour has always intrigued the most curious minds. Movies and sci-fi tales have captured the audience’s imagination, blurring the lines between fiction and the ‘real’ future. It is therefore not surprising that the human desire to integrate with technology is now becoming a reality.

Playing around with ground-breaking technology concepts, cyborgs have established themselves as a part of pop culture’s collective consciousness. A cyborg is defined as a fictional or hypothetical person whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations via mechanical elements built into the body.

Today, we have already started marching towards an era where the fine line separating science and fiction has started to erode. The millennials of the 21st century are bold enough to experiment with biomechatronic body parts, which has brought the concepts of ‘super powers’ and ‘super humans’ closer to reality.

Cyborgs are a prime example of technology’s integration with humanity. Desire for the ability to enhance one’s perceptions and the value of self-sovereignty have also contributed to an unprecedented rise in cyborgism over recent years.

It is a well-known fact that some animal species have highly developed and powerful sensory organs which can aid their survival: sharks can detect electromagnetic fields, dolphins can hear through their bones, bats can ‘see’ through sound and so on. In parallel, the surge in cyborgism gives hope to the belief that cyborgs may help increase the survival rate and adaptive qualities of humans in threatening conditions.

This week on the FinancialFox, our presenter Stefania Barbaglio is interviewing Manel Muñoz: a Catalan cyborg artist based in Barcelona, who has been credited with developing and installing barometric sensors in his body. The first of its kind in the world, he uses the sensors to detect atmospheric pressure changes through pressure variations felt in his skull.

Muñoz studied contemporary photography in Barcelona and became Cyborg Foundation’s artist in residence in 2016. In 2017, he co-founded the Transpecies Society, an association that offers the creation of new senses and new organs within a community, gives voice to people who do not identify as being 100% human, and raises awareness on issues they face.

The aim of extending human senses beyond the the physical barrier by introducing/integrating technology into our bodies is to deepen the human experience of reality. The goal is to reveal reality, which is distinct from Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in that true reality is increasingly revealed to us through an enhanced body. You could call it ‘superpower’, but more accurately, it is the ability to create and shape our bodies and unlock opportunities towards a new generation of “improved humans”.

Cyborg art is based on the idea that a person is free to change their body and perceptions. More specifically, they are in charge of shaping their own perceptions.

Recently, there has also been a lot of activity in the fields of neuroscience and neurotechnology. Elon Musk, the millionaire entrepreneur, has invested £100mln in Neuralink, a company which is developing electronic brain implants to facilitate direct communication between people and machines. Such has been the progress and advancement in the integration of humans with technology that it won’t be a surprise when, in a few years from now, people start taking examples from ‘reel’ life into real life.

With so many developments and innovations on the horizon, there is a need to regulate the protocols for such technology to evolve and be sustainable. At present, various challenges are faced by cyborgs and cyborgism. For instance, society at large may still not be ready to deal with the idea of installing foreign objects in one’s body. Moreover, it also raises questions around freedom of choice and progress, so it is valid to study and analyse more deeply the impacts of having technology interacting so closely with the human body. As with any ground-breaking technological development, information and educative material are needed to ensure society can enjoy the benefits and make progress.

There are a lot of blurred areas and unanswered questions in relation to cyborgism and technology being applied to humans. We will be trying our best to shed some light on and gain insight into this fascinating area. Please make sure you subscribe to our channel to watch the video on its release this Thursday, 5pm UK time.