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.