Swedish cyborgs increase tenfold in two years

DAN PELED AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

British Neil Harbisson, the world's first certified cyborg, speaks to the media in Brisbane, Australia, 20 August 2015. Mr Harbisson, who is completely color blind, has an antenna with a camera at its end permanently implanted in his head that allows him to perceive colors as different sounds.

Swedish cyborgs increase tenfold in two years


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Over 1,000 Swedes have microchips implants under their skin, containing personal passwords, their health details, and their professional identity, Sverige Radio reports.

The chip-wearing so-described “bio-hackers” appear to be at ease with the idea of an electronic extension of their body, along with the lines of science fiction cyborgs.

In 2014 there were 100 people that described themselves as “bio-hackers” in Sweden, that is, people claiming to take control over their biological system. Within two years the number has increased tenfold, which suggests that the fusion of human and machine is becoming less of a taboo.

Last February, Elon Musk shocked the world by claiming that humans must become cyborgs to remain relevant, as robots and Artificial Intelligence is taking over. The machine “symbiosis” is supposed to allow for the development of neuroprosthetics. That is believed to be the foundation of all kinds of applications from “extra memory” to night vision and telepathic communication.

Cyborg means “cybernetic organism,” that is, a being constructed of both mechanical and organic material. It is usually found in the form of electronic enhancements of human senses, a proliferating phenomenon that ranges from a bespoke antenna that allows its carrier to perceive visible and invisible colours, such as infrareds and ultraviolets, to a silicon implant that allows you to always sense which way is the North.

The example of the colour antenna cyborg refers to Meil Harbison, who before his electronic enhancement was colour-blind. He now has “super senses,” or an augmented sense of vision that is always “on.”

Another example includes Jesse Sullivan, a man who lost his and the Rehabilitation Institute in Chicago gave him robotic hands, making him bionic. The operation included fusing nerves and muscles to the robotic extension to allow the robotic extension to interpret contractions as instructions to move.

However, it would be wrong to see these trend as a mechanism for “correcting” or addressing disability. Electronic enhancement changes self-perception as well as the notion of ability. These kinds of biological and electronic fusions are changing the term cyborg to the more identity-focused term “transhumanism,” which brings to the fore the last exclusively human-cantered activity, that is, philosophy and ethical reasoning. A whole new arena of right and wrong questions is opening up. And there is a whole spectrum of activity that goes along with such questions, including “human rights” and advocacy.

These kinds of biological and electronic fusions are changing the term cyborg to the more identity-focused term “transhumanism,” which brings to the fore the last exclusively human-cantered activity, that is, philosophy and ethical reasoning. A whole new arena of right and wrong questions is opening up. And there is a whole spectrum of activity that goes along with such questions, including “human rights” and advocacy.

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