Me, Cyborg

Researches linked dead locust’s ear to robot, and it works.

Please read this again. If you don’t know how to understand it, you can make a quick jump to this link, where it’s explained in more details, but if you don’t want to make the jump, I can explain it for you, in fewer words.

Are you ready? Here we go:

Researchers linked dead locust’s ear to robot, and it works. That’s it.

This is by far one of the most fascinating things I’ve read in a while, but not because it’s unusual, but because it’s unusual, yet vaguely familiar. Also, plausible. Also, relatively common, these days. It’s surprising more like an intriguing and almost funny thing, but not as something revolutionary or disruptive.

Truth is we already live in an age where cyborgs are among us. They may not be as spectacular as those portrayed in Sci-Fi movies, or books, anthropomorphised and debating whether or not they are humans too, but they are around us (here is another extremely intriguing example of man building “cyborg-like” life forms, named xenobots – I might come back later on with some thoughts specifically on this “programmable living beings” topic).

Technology As A Shortcut

We live in an age in which technology is the ultimate shortcut.

By using tools, we’ve already shortened the distance between our intentions and their realizations. We already used tools to farm the land and grow crops, to build cars in factories and improve our health with life supporting devices. Tools made this distance modifiable, predictable and we’ve been able to increase the speed at which we farm land, build cars and improve our health.

But this distance between our intentions, our desires, and their realization is drastically shortened with technology, specifically during the last 50 years. This is unprecedented in human history.

And this poses a very interesting question…

To whom we’re shortening this distance? In other words, where “we” start and where do “we” end?

If we can augment ourselves to such a degree that we’re going to use dogs noses’ to smell 100x more, locusts’ ears to hear 10x better, and, who knows, bones augmenting technologies, then where are we really starting, and where are we ending?

What’s the definition of “us” in terms of biological beings? Where do we begin to be “human beings”, and how are the “enhanced beings” defined?

I know this sounds like a rather good problem to have, in the sense that we’re dramatically extending our reach towards reality. But it’s still a problem, and a serious one. It touches our very core, our identity and even the definitions of being “alive” and “dead”. How much are we alive if we’re, let’s say, 80% human organs, and 20% enhanced organs, bio-printed, or generated in labs?

I’m not gonna say I know the answer to these questions. I highly doubt there is someone who knows them yet, to be honest.

But I believe it’s important to keep trying to ask the right questions, even when the answer seem impossible.

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