Thursday, March 7, 2013

We Are Cyborgs (Part 2)

Becoming More

My reading glasses effect my ability to see.  My brain has adapted to using them when not reading also.  Even the simple invention of eye glasses is a cyborg tool.  

Fiction that may become real
Starting over a decade ago, humans began to have devices implanted to improve their eye sight.  Like primitive a Geordi La Forge, these early adopters restored parts of their vision by connecting electronic sensing devices directly into their brains.

In 2002, a man had electrodes implanted into his nervous system and linked himself to the internet.  He experimented with extending his nervous system over the internet to control a robotic hand, a loudspeaker and an amplifier. 

In 2013 will see the first consumer release of a powerful new cyborg enhancement.  Google Glass will allow a direct visual interface to the internet at all times.  Using cell phone technologies and new kind of input and feedback device, this tool is set to connect our brains in a whole new way.

Recording your speech and sight in real time, constant records of your activities can be used for a new kind of feedback loop to your brain.  Instant replays of anything you experience will be possible.  Information will streamed directly to your brain in order to augment your understanding of the world around you. 

Power Gained

Cyborg technologies will lead to competitive advantage for those that adopt it.

Competitive advantage
When the Macintosh, and later Windows, became widely available, humans adopted the new interface to the digital world quickly.  These feedback loops allowed us to start integrating cyborg technologies into our daily lives.

Those people who did not adopt personal computing technology were at a strong disadvantage.  We were forced by competition to become cyborgs.

Cell phones have done a similar thing to our existence as humans.  We now expect to be able to communicate with anyone at anytime.  These smart phones allow us to augment our experience of being human in unexpected ways. 

Competing in business or academia or war or almost any mental endeavor is enhanced by these cyborg integrations.

The competitive advantage in military and political conflicts of adopting cyborg technologies is obvious.  Those soldiers who pilot drones to deal death far away or use night vision goggles to see otherwise unseen enemies are obvious examples.  They become one with their machines in order to gain competitive advantage over their enemies.  Warfare will be transformed by cyborgs of the future.

Freedom Lost?

The integration of these new cyborg technologies into our experience of being human may also destroying our privacy. 

Panopticon: a prison where we all watch each other all the time
My cell phone communicates my location in real time.  Google Glass will compound the problem, being able to see what I see and hear what I hear.

Our experience of life is becoming an open book for those who wish to read it.  The very essence of who we are will be exposed by the interfaces tied directly into our brains.

This loss of freedom of action as humans may develop social structures that help protect privacy.  This is one of the challenges of our generation that we rarely discuss.

Perhaps there will be such an overload of information that our individuality is protected in obscurity.  I do not think this will occur, as computer power grows faster than we will be able to hide our experience from it.

Another consideration for freedom is the processing power of our brains.  We have each a fixed amount of brain power to use.  For new inputs to be attached, old ones must be abandoned or ignored.  With new inputs come new kinds of thoughts.  Abandoning old inputs, old ways of thinking are lost.

What will we become?
Hug Your Inner Cyborg

Like it or not, living a human life will become more cyborg, not less. 

The changes to our existence are happening now and accelerating into the near future.

We are evolving to a new kind of cyborg existence with little thought to what we will become.

The question we must struggle with is not if we will become cyborgs, but what kind of life experience do we wish ourselves and our children to have.

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