When you hear the words “cyborg,” or “augmented human,” you inescapably picture Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator, the Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation, or perhaps The Six Million Dollar Man, if you’re a little older. In Hollywood, any futuristic pairing of man and machine had better be so superawesome, or so superscary, that you’d be willing to spend a good couple of hours (and dollars) being entertained by it.
The crazy thing is, even though these images come from a time when technology was barely able to fake the on-screen action, we are now on the cusp of the real thing. We’re entering an age that will enhance who we are as humans in ways that go well beyond these cultural clichés.
Here’s where the art and science of human augmentation is today, and a tantalizing peek at where it’s going in the not-too-distant future.
You’re already a cyborg
Our time as pure, natural humans has an expiration date. Sorry, scratch that. It had an expiration date, and it was about 2 million years ago. It was around that time that we first put technology to use to enhance what we could accomplish with just our bodies. It took the form of a crude cutting tool, and though it might not have been much to look at, it beat the hell out of having to use our teeth for everything.
This, according to Super You author Andy Walker, was the moment the human race became cyborgs. “Any technology that enhances your natural biology and gives you an advantage over somebody else to either survive or procreate is ‘cyborgism,’” Walker says. (Try to force your eyebrows back to their resting position.) His definition likely flies in the face of your lovingly preserved image of Steve Austin leaping over walls in slow motion. Read full story…