Cyborgs Unite!: The Not so Distant Future

I remember that day almost like it was yesterday. I was 9 years old listening to a doctor explain to me how my life was never going to be the same. “Type one diabetes” rolled off his tongue like an eternal judgment. Like a curse. I know better now that diabetes is a very common and treatable disease, but at the time having to take shots 5 times a day seemed like a horror story. Today I only need to take one every three days thanks to my insulin pump and many other advances in medical technology. 

I’m amazed at some of the advances that technology has made for the medical field.When I was first diagnosed insulin pumps were still in the prototype phase and had age requirements. Today, children as young as 4 can have them and use them like it wasn’t even a big deal. Mechanical limbs, insulin pumps, and vaccines are some of the technologies that have changed our world, but there is a new era that sits on the fence of medical approval: the age of cyborgs.

cy·borg/ˈsībôrg/

Noun: A fictional or hypothetical person whose physical abilities become superhuman by mechanical elements built into the body. (thanks Wikipedia)

 I’ve been reading the book Nuromancer by William Gibson (an interesting cyberpunk book to add to your reading list). An age of leaving the “meat” and allowing cybernetics to become the new normal. Perfectly average organs and limbs are replaced with superhuman cybernetics and in most cases their functionality serve questionable purposes. It’s an interesting concept. Taking organic matter and making it into something that can integrate with technology. I can understand making medical advances, but there are just some advances that I can’t see being useful in the future. I found this article entitled 9 Implants That Make the Healthy Human Body Even More Useful. Really? Making HEALTHY Human bodies more useful?

 Some say that these implants do have very convenient and useful applications in our daily lives. Items like the heath sensor and bionic limbs are important for those who are in need of them. But LED implants? I have nothing against body art or tattoos, but under what circumstances is it logical to do so? I’m sure somewhere there is a cybergoth sitting looking at these implants and ruining their wireless computer keyboard as their saliva drips out of their mouths. Yes, the applications are possible and endless, but should we really apply such technologies simply because we have them? I have always had the theory that science cannot live knowing they made something that couldn’t be used, even if it seems sketchy. 

Are we really that attached to our tech that we can’t live without it attached to our person permanently? Of course there is always a risk of not being so healthy after the implant because of complications and bodily rejection. Not to mention the obvious: human’s haven’t had a very good track record of making good decisions for themselves. I read this interesting article from The Center of Bioethics and Human Dignity about Nanotechnology being a means for improving human life. The article is entitled From iPods to iHuamns: What will Nanotechnology do to Us?. In this article I found one particular section to be interesting: 

While many exciting ideas were being proposed, I raised questions about the ethical implications of some of these devices. Many agreed they knew little about the potential hazards of the nanomaterials they were manufacturing or using. Yet universities and governments around the world are investing heavily in nanotechnology for its economic return. All sorts of useful devices are being developed, but others want to use nanotechnology to enhance people all the way to the posthuman – a new species with capabilities far beyond those of humans.

Technology has made some wonderful advances. I live with one of them and have been grateful for the convenience it has brought to my life, but in some instances I feel we need to look more closely at what we’re doing and why.

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