Are Cyborgs Taking Over The World?

In 2015, Israeli History Professor Yuval Noah Harari made international headlines with his predictions that humans will become god-like cyborgs within 200 years Harari argues that as cyborg technology, such as biological manipulation and genetic engineering, will only be available to the wealthiest in society, the gap between the rich and poor will widen

The poor will eventually die out, leaving the rich, immortal cyborgs to inherit the Earth According to Harari, the integration of man and machine will mark the biggest evolution in biology since the very emergence of life on Earth And the change has already begun In 2004, artist Neil Harbisson became humanity’s first officially recognised cyborg His passport photo showing his permanently attached antenna, was accepted by the British Passport Office

Born with a rare form of color blindness that only allows him to see in greyscale, Habisson had an antenna surgically implanted into his skull, to allow him to hear color frequencies This new sense allows him to tell colors apart, whilst the antenna enables Habisson to receive phone calls directly to his skull  But as early as 1998, Cybernetics professor Kevin Warwick implanted a device into his arm that links his nervous system directly into a computer, allowing him to remotely operate lights, heaters and computers in his proximity Meanwhile, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has developed an implant that allows paralysis patients to manipulate a robotic arm and hand with their minds In experiments patients can control robotic limbs with their mind and even receive sensory information from the robotic hands

  Futurists such as Google’s engineering director, Ray Kurzweil, believe that humanity is hurtling towards the singularity: the hypothetical event that will give rise to artificial intelligence, that far exceeds that of humanity However, Kurzweil believes that with the rise of artificial intelligence, humans themselves could become artificially intelligent cyborgs as early as 2030 With the use of nanobots, Kurzweil predicts technological innovations will allow human brains to connect directly to the Cloud, to store memories and expand brain capacity exponentially  Amal Graafstra, the CEO of biohacking store Dangerous Minds, allows customers to turn themselves into cyborgs for as little as $40 Several thousand people have purchased an implantable device from his store, upgrading their body to become more connected to the devices around them

Graafstra currently uses his hand implants in place of his passwords and keys, even rigging his motorbike to start at the touch of his palm Graafstra argues that human evolution into cyborgs is inevitable, stating “We have been picking up things like rocks and sticks forever and used them as tools That is just a natural progression of that We are just now putting our tools inside of our bodies”  Graafstra believes bio-hacking will becoming increasingly mainstream

As our devices become an increasingly integral part of our lives, humanity will gravitate to more natural ways to interact with them  The body-enhancing potential of cyborg technology has led Professor Harari to speculate that “in the coming generations humankind might split into biological castes, with upper-class humans purchasing upgraded abilities for themselves and their children These upgraded super-humans may really be more clever, more courageous, and more creative than everybody else upgrading themselves into some idea of a divine being"" Whilst there are no solid figures on how many cyborgs currently walk among us, there may be more than you’d think For instance, currently around 30,000 Parkinson’s suffers have brain implants to help treat symptoms of the disease The development of cyborgs is being adopted by the United State’s military, with the ultimate goal to create super soldiers Robotic weapon systems could be combined with humans to improve reaction times, precision and strength

Current projects aim to equip soldiers with robotic exoskeletons or special helmets, which would allow soldiers to control weapons with their thoughts  But critics are concerned that the military’s pursuit of artificial intelligence could have unpredictable results And, with millions of dollars being spent to technologically upgrade both the mind and body of individual soldiers, questions have arisen over the dangers of merging individuals with lethal technological powers, and the threat they would pose to civilian populations Professor Harari predicts that the extreme pace of developments in biotechnology and artificial intelligence will make us one of the last generations of Homo Sapiens  But Paul Carter, who was born with no limbs and relies on the use of multiple prostheses, makes the point that cyborg augmentation won’t instantly give humans incredible abilities, and underlying talent and fitness will still be necessary to make the most of any enhancements

Scientist Gabriel Licina agrees and urges people to dispel the myth that technological enhancements will automatically make people superhuman He argues that ‘augmentation ought to be seen less as a solution than as a tool you can use to build yourself in new directions’ So it would seem that whilst human evolution into cyborgs is likely, their ability to take over the world is yet to be seen

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