The term cyborg is an acronym and is derived from the English “cybernetic organism.” He describes a hybrid between a living organism and a machine. But what sounds like SciFi films has long since become a reality.
Neil Harbisson describes himself as a cyborg. He has expanded his skills through technological implants. The 37-year-old Briton has been color-blind from birth. He can only perceive shades of gray.
In 2003, the avant-garde artist started a project collaborating with computer scientist Adam Montandon and other experts in this field. He called it his “Electronic Eye” – the electronic eye.
Cyborg Antenna That Can Hear Colors
This is an antenna on his head that lets him hear the colors of his surroundings. Each color tone is assigned to a monochromatic scale of 360 styles. The antenna scans the colors and translates them with the help of electromagnetic radiation that propagates in waves.
These results in one or more tones sent directly to Harbisson’s brain. The tones are then passed on from the skull bone to his ear. When Harbisson goes to a museum, he doesn’t see the exhibits in color – he hears them.
He compares this experience to a music concert. Visits to the supermarket are particularly amusing for him. In his TED talk, he compares this with a visit to the nightclub. “[The supermarket] is full of different melodies. Especially the cleaning agent department. That’s just great. ”
In 2004, Neil Harbisson fought for the right to be shown on the biometric photo of his passport with the antenna. He thus became the first state-recognized cyborg in the world.
When Technology Heals The Hearing
He may be the first but by no means the only one. A man has made a name for himself in the media as a cyborg: Enno Park. The 47-year-old had a spiral with 22 electrodes implanted.
He wears a magnetic transmitter on the outside of his head, including a microphone and speech processor. This converts noises and sends them to the spiral. There they are then converted into electrical impulses that generate sounds in the brain through the nerve endings of the inner ear.
The installation of this device became necessary because Enno Park has been virtually deaf since he was 17 years old. The aftereffects of a measles illness robbed him of his hearing. With the help of the “Cochlear Nucleus N5,” he can now hear again – and even better than before.
Improved Human Skills?
Park stated that he could adjust his hearing to suit his surroundings in an interview. For example, in pubs and clubs, he can lower tones that do not correspond to human language. That makes it easier for him to follow conversations. He can even hear better than his counterparts in similar scenarios.
In other situations, he switches off his hearing entirely. For example, to concentrate at your desk or to sleep in peace. This is the moment when he changes from human to cyborg.
Neil Harbisson and Enno Park, however, are no longer a novelty. Even other people have chosen to replace body parts or repair congenital impairments.
Cyborg Celebrities Are Not A Rarity
For example, Kevin Warwick is known as “Captain Cyborg.” He has been experimenting with various electronic implants since 1998. For instance, he has a microchip implanted in his arm that can be used to control lamps, heaters, and computers remotely.
Its mission is to become the “most complete” cyborg globally. On the other hand, Jesse Sullivan lost both arms in an accident and had them replaced with two robotic prostheses. They are connected to his nerves and are controlled by his consciousness.
So when he thinks about raising his arm, various muscles in his chest contract, which are interpreted by his prosthesis. He can also feel temperatures. He is known as the “Bionic Man.” The Finn Jerry Jalava, on the other hand, lost his left ring finger in a motorcycle accident.
He decided against a prosthesis and had a two-gigabyte USB stick implanted in place of his finger. There are many examples like this. People with chips in their arms, paying in the canteen, or implanted magnets in their fingers expand their ordinary sense of touch. The interest in the further development of previous technologies continues unabated.
The Future Of Cyborg Technology
Multi Billionaire Elon Musk, for example, and his company Neuralink are researching chips that are used in the brain. In his vision, it will one day be possible to save memories as a backup or even to transfer them to other bodies or media.
And Neil Harbisson and Enno Park are also thinking about the future. Harbisson has already expanded its color spectrum to include ultraviolet and infrared. He is also researching a new invention: a metal collar with which the hours of the day can be felt on the neck. He hopes that he can change the perception of time via an app.
On the other hand, Enno Park would like to program his IUD in such a way that he can also hear ultrasound. For Neil Harbisson and Enno Park, expanding their original physical abilities and senses improves their quality of life.
They strive to develop their technical alterations, which probably corresponds to their existential change. However, the question that still needs to be answered in the future is whether there are limits that should not be exceeded.