Humanity 2.0 – Cybernetic Individuals Today

Future humans might very well be a certain variety of organic machine hybrid. But what about right now? Are we witnessing the emergence of cyborg life within our society today? Consider that artificial hearts and prosthetic limbs are probably the best-known types of machinery intended to be grafted onto or within human flesh. Such artificial designs are supposed to fulfill a medical need. They are used when human organs or tissue have failed or has been amputated. Is this not a form of cybernetic integration? One would not usually receive a prosthetic for any recreational reason today however, I can see a future where perhaps this may be commonplace (or even trendy) in instances where prosthetic devices or artificial organs might enhance human performance and/or prolong life. Given that we’re headed into the weekend, I thought this might be a good topic to wrap up the week. 

An Examination of Cyborgization Today
The ability to replicate human tissue with certain synthetic fibers is not entirely outside the realm of possibility. While most medical proposals focus on methods designed to directly replacing failed organs, one could also theoretically produce muscle mass for instance. Additionally, there is nothing to suggest that some people wouldn’t think of such an operation as the ultimate form of body modification. While earrings are common, few people have mechanical ears today right? This could however, change in a matter of years should the cost of these modifications be significantly reduced for example. Would individuals undergo body enhancements if the procedures became as affordable and/or non-intrusive such as LASIK surgery is today for example? I think so and I also think this will ultimately be a key driving force behind societal cyborgization.  Of course, some societies might be compelled to progress towards cyborg adoption to fulfill perceived military or industrial needs as well. Perhaps each will contribute to cybernetic integration equally.

Regardless of the reasons for cybernetic integration within the masses, humanity will face major ethical and political questions along the way. If cybernetic individuals became marginalized in some countries, there is nothing to stop them from causing an insurrection. Numerous human rights questions naturally emerge from this manner of thinking. Over time, some people might begin to develop a certain dichotomy between altered and natural citizens. Perhaps another concern to consider is so-called lifehacking. I read an interesting article on NPR that discusses this in some detail. Check it out and let me know what you think. While I don’t agree with the article entirely, there are some valid points to consider as we continue moving forward in the years ahead.

Cybernetic Individuals Are Already Here
I disagree with those that either don’t want to face reality and refuse to believe that transhumanism is occurring, or those that believe the merging of humanity and machines is somehow against the will of God – show me where there is proof of this and I’ll be happy to debate further.

What these individuals are failing to realize is the fact that devices today,  like wearable computers for instance, have already begun to put these changes into play. Whether one wants to face facts or not, a collective human consciousness is growing as an ultimate result of the information age. Human beings spend a remarkable amount of time using  technology today. It has become so ingrained into our daily lives that we hardly notice.  Nothing suggests that people aided by computers today aren’t, in fact, a form of cybernetic being. Transhumanism is no longer decades away. I would argue that we are already in the very early stages of cyborgization and certainly on a direct course to the singularity. This video below is a perfect illustration of this fact.

About the Video: Amanda Kitts, who lost left arm in a car accident, demonstrating advanced hand control of the DEKA arm in a study at at the Neural Engineering Center for Artificial Limbs, part of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Feel free to share below. Have a great weekend everyone!

Image Credit: Wallpaper Vortex

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  • Brett

    I think the invasiveness of the surgeries required and the need to go through FDA-like regulatory bodies will slow down the transition to this, especially if the modifications don’t offer immediate and huge benefits. Alternatives that don’t require invasive surgery will be a problem for cyborgization as well (why have an HUD screen surgically implanted in your eye, instead of just wearing HUD glasses?).

    Besides, there are other issues as well (particularly the immune system reaction issues).

    • Jason Carr

      Great points Brett. Do you think however if this becomes commonplace in other places throughout the world (France or Germany for instance), that perhaps the FDA would losen restrictions on this once they’re proven to benefit humans? I agree with you that the FDA might be an obstacle early on but this can only happen for so long in my opinion. I suppose time will tell how it all turns out. Whether the U.S. leads the way…well as you say, regulatory bodies here may slow us down in this regard (wouldn’t surprise me one bit). Great thoughts…I need to research the political implications of this much more. I, like many others, focus on the technology and ethic primarily and this is a mistake. Politics will play a very real part in all of this and must be considered as well. Thanks Brett!

      • Brett

        It’s certainly possible that other areas might lead the way, but the US is still the biggest spender on medical-related R & D spending. As a result of that, whether the FDA will approve it or not will weigh heavily when they move from the (likely) animal experiments with these devices, to potential human trials.

        That’s the most concrete issue in my opinion. I brought up resistance to invasive surgery for non-medically necessary implants, but that’s a fuzzy cultural factor – I have no idea how fast norms might shift. It’s just my opinion that non-invasive attachments will likely slow down the adoption of invasive ones.

        • Jason Carr

          That’s a really good point regarding non-invasive attachments…definitely an area to keep an eye on. I assume you’ve seen some of the stuff Google and others are doing. There’s definitely a future there. I still love the idea of a contact lens that is a computer screen for instance. As with any technology, I have no doubt each will start out on the high-end cost wise and level off over time as markets balance them out. It will be interesting to watch how these things unfold over the next few years. Thanks again Brett…interesting insights!

          • Great food for thought. Good points from both you and Brett…

  • Brenda

    I’ve gotten through the 5 newest posts, and i’m lovin’ it! I’ve really enjoyed your blog. 🙂

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