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The Future Human: Can Technology Improve What Nature Created?

Feb 05, 2019 11:24 AM EST
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Technology plays an ever-increasing role in our lives. Today, it's hard to imagine life without being constantly connected to the pulse of the world through TVs, computers, and smartphones - all of them connected to the internet. These devices ensure a constant influx of information and entertainment into our everyday lives, connects us with our friends and loved ones, and sometimes even connects us with nature. Given its accessibility and perceived improvement of our quality of life, many of us embrace technology completely. But how many of us are ready to welcome technology inside our bodies? Well, more than you would think, apparently.

It's not uncommon for our bodies to be augmented using technology - just think of everyday objects like pacemakers, cochlear implants, and prosthetic limbs. But there are some who take the augmentation of their bodies several steps further. One of the best-known such individuals is Neil Harbisson, the first "cyborg artist" in the world. Having been born color blind, the artist developed a device that would allow him to perceive color not through sight but through vibration with the help of a device called Cyborg Antenna permanently attached to his skull. Moreover, the antenna is also WiFi-enabled, allowing him to "receive" colors through the internet.

These fusions of flesh and technology are meant to repair and correct - but how about the improvement of a healthy human body? While this might sound like science fiction, there are enough people out there in favor of such modifications. The transhumanist movement advocates for the transformation of the human body by adding sophisticated technologies to it, enhancing not only its senses but its intellect and physiology, too - in short, the creation of cyborgs that would be better than "ordinary" humans. Transhumanism embraces enhancement technologies and supports their recognition as civil liberties, allowing humans to use them on themselves or even their children. These technologies range from neural implants to cyberware (from interfaces implanted into the brain to prosthetics that mimic and enhance the natural function of the humans' senses, organs, and limbs). The ultimate goal would be to transcend the human body's innate limitations by artificially eliminating its congenital mental and physical barriers by the use of technology at the individual level to improve the quality of all life.

As you might expect, this movement has many critics pointing out the ethical, spiritual, and social dangers of such a direction. When it comes to certain technologies already in the works, it's no longer about "can we" but rather about "should we" try to improve what nature has created?

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