Are we on course to become cyborgs?
If that sounds like a headline from the National Enquirer, it’s not.
The industry that creates wearable tech has boomed over the last few years. Fitbits, for example, are no longer a luxury but an essential item for anyone keen to improve their health.
For parents obliged to stand on the side-lines as their child practises their football skills—typically, early doors on a weekend morning—you can wear ‘smart’ clothes…hats, gloves and or fleeces/gilets with integral heating to keep you toasty.
Smartphones parade as fashion watches. Google Glass (smart glasses) allow you to scroll the internet whilst you walk. Gloves and suits exist that allow gaming enthusiasts to further absorb themselves into their games via virtual reality.
Think of the amputees with robot-like hands and legs – technology can go as far as an entire exoskeleton, almost like Robocop. According to the military, a technologically-enhanced skeleton-like frame that’s worn on the outside of the body would greatly improve someone’s prowess in combat. Apparently, the suit would make them stronger and more able to carry supplies from camp to camp; I presume it would also protect them from certain angles – should bullets hit their metal skeleton, they’d ping off in another direction, which means less chance of being wounded in gunfire.
All of these examples assume the user wears the technology on the outside of their body. For some people, however, they’re willing to go one step further.
A recent poll carried out by cybersecurity company Kaspersky, which interviewed members of the public across Europe, found that some of them would be willing to endure a ‘body upgrade’ or enhancement. This could be anything from microchips inserted under the skin that holds their financial information and identification details, to supplies of preventative ‘smart drugs’, that could help make an individual immune to cancer.
How much tech would we be prepared to insert into/onto our bodies before we become more machine than human? Are cyborgs really only found in science fiction books?
How many of us would actually consider such a thing?
The survey showed that almost two-thirds of those interviewed (63%) would be prepared to augment – or upgrade, as they prefer to see it - their bodies with technology. Our European cousins are also far keener than us Brits on the subject; only a quarter of British respondents entertained the idea.
According to Marco Preuss, Kaspersky’s European Director of Global Research, fans of technological/physical upgrades are “keen to test the limits as to what’s possible.” But at what point would they consider stopping? Could someone actually stray into cyborg territory?
Bionic eyes are already a ‘thing’, used to treat optical issues and degeneration. As is the 3D printing of certain body parts, e.g. hearts, lungs and kidneys, using stem cell technology and the advancements in printing. Body parts now grown in labs include fully-functioning ears, bladders…and vaginas.
Perhaps it’s easier to consider an artificial body part if your original one fails. And I can understand smart drugs in a world where cancer is as rife as it is. Inserting chips under my skin just in case I forget my car keys or bank card may be a step too far for me personally, particularly given that you…YOU, not your laptop or phone…could be hacked.
Would you be up for it? Let us know your take on things - Tweet us at @intheknowemag
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