Although this short documentary (full transcript here) feels more like a glorified advertisement for the video game “Deus Ex: Human Revolution,” it does raise some interesting issues we deal with regularly on this blog.First, we revisit Rob Spence, the human cyborg (or Eyeborg as he prefers to call himself). I have written about him once before on this blog, and he has been a documenting his technological cyborg transformation extensively through video clips on his blog (and his newer blog project). He himself personifies the (new) cyborg body.
But it is important to also mention that the cyborg body is more than technology-meets-the-flesh. It is also all those little gizmos and gadgets that improve the biological human body, from sunglasses, clothing, and footwear to digital wristwatches, mobile phones, and pacemakers. “Unlike you humans, I can continue to upgrade,” Spence has stated. “Yes, I’m a cyborg. But I think that any technology — even clothing — makes people cyborgs.” And this brings up some of the issues we speak of on this blog.
The interviews contained in the documentary discuss everything from augmented reality–in the case of “terminator vision” and the new firefighter facemasks being produced in the private sector–to prosthetic hands, arms, and hydraulic legs. These technologies are drastically improving and superseding the limits imposed by the biological human body. So is the sky the limit?
In the words of David Jonsson, “I mean who says that a normal human [appendage] is the optimal thing for you? I mean the [human] species has evolved to dislike what we have now but who says that’s the end of the line?” This brings up the notion of transhumanism.
Influenced heavily by science fiction literature and film, the transhumanist movement (also known as H+) highlights the increasingly interdependent nature of man and machine. The movement is epitomized by the work of FM-2030, a professor at the New School in New York (whose most famous work is Are You a Transhuman?: Monitoring and Stimulating Your Personal Rate of Growth in a Rapidly Changing World). The scholar passed away in early 2000 as a result of pancreatic cancer, and now remains in cryogenic suspension at Alcor Life Extension Facility in Scottsdale, AZ. There are currently 106 patients (and 33 pets) in cryogenic suspension at this facility, under the hopes that future technology will be able to bring them back to life.
As a whole, the Eyeborg documentary and the transhumanist movement epitomize a sense of nostalgia for the future. As FM-2030 himself once stated, “I am a 21st century person who was accidentally launched in the 20th. I have a deep nostalgia for the future.”
What does the future hold for the cyborg body? Only our imagination can tell.