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      CommentAuthorIron Imp
    • CommentTimeFeb 23rd 2012 edited

    Given this is Whitechapel, I'm going to assume you're all familiar with tranhumanism and a lot of you will be familiar with UK based documentary filmmaker Rob Spence, who lost an eye in a shooting accident, but turned misfortune around by having a custom wireless camera built into his face by way of a prosthetic he can now use for his film career.

    I was looking him up on a whim, having seen him featured on the modern day analog for a circus freak show that is the "Diagonal View" program... I came across this video, where he took it upon himself to look at the (excellent) videogame Deus Ex: HR and also meet and great with some of the most exceptional living cyborgs today.

    The video is a great 12 minute watch and I wanted to share it, but for further discussion value, lets put on our thinking hats and speculate on what augments we'd personally fancy, given our various interests and proclivities...


    For myself, I'd obviously be interested in the application towards sound. Naturally, I am thrilled that technologies like cochlear implants are allowing deaf people to hear, but from from a creative perspective, I've always been taken with the notion of a matrix style brain plug (in XLR format or 1/4" format) that you could plug directly into your amp or mixer and think sound...

    That's a simplified pipe dream by itself (for the forseeable future), but using biofeedback and controlling brainwaves to translate into analog control voltages has been in practice since the late 60's, and more recently, digital values for MIDI / OSC. My friend and synthesis teacher Don Garbutt, an older gentleman, told me about how rooms full of techno hippies at university would gather round to watch someone struggle for 40 minutes to finally be able to control the pitch of a single oscillator in a modular system with their mind. He admitted it that for all the cool ideas behind it, it was sorta like attending a dodgy theremin performance, but other more dedicated and well funded pioneers like Kraftwerk have been all over that technology with moderate success.

    Brainwave Freq - CV

    We live in interesting times and the collision of the human mind with both practical and artistic technologies will be an emergent shift worth watching. :)
    • CommentAuthorArgos
    • CommentTimeFeb 23rd 2012
    Awesome video! I'd like bionic implants in a few different levels.

    On a personal level, I am EXTREMELY near-sighted, so I would like bionic that can see well. I can expand this to a professional level, since, as I scientist, I often find myself in the lab (at least I did in college, heh, we'll see what happens in the real world), and I would love to be able to zoom in on the things I am working with, which is what would take me from just wanting lasik to cure my near-sightedness to wanting a bionic eye. It would also be neat if the eye can give me an AR view with measurements if the things I was working with.

    Also on the professional level, bionic arms and hands that are better at controlling their motor functions and allow to me to make more efficient and precise measurements in the lab. This would also help me to work on my experiments with a decreased chance of sample contamination due to human error.

    On a different level, as someone who loves body modifications in general, I'd be interested to see how I could use this technology to apply it aesthetically to the human body. However, one of the things I like about body modification is that I feel that the process or organic body modification allows to to get to know my own body better and connect with it, so I'm also worried that bionics might take some of that away from me.

    I'm definitely interested in how bionic implants can take us from being humans to being transhuman, but also how they can strip away our humanity.
  1.  (10513.3)
    I'd take some kind of eye enhancement, I've had total deafness in my right ear since I was a baby, so some kind of replacement there would be nice, and I'd like my joints all rebuilt to not be so damn frail, as human joint design is clumsy at best (I'm looking at you, God!)

    Mainly though, I want my sub-dermal communicator. I look forward to being part of the hive mind. :)

    On a marginally more serious note, I've been doing a lot of thinking and writing about H+ recently, and am very interested in how an h+ society would treat those that opt out of improvements.
    • CommentAuthorArgos
    • CommentTimeFeb 23rd 2012
    Ooooh, yes a subdermal communicator would be amazing!

    i'm sure we'd see some sort of shift in how H+ and non H+ people see each other. Those who opt to willfully remove a limb to get a bionic one would be shunned by a lot of people - I wouldn't surprised if religious types were against it. Those who get implants and such for the fun of it might be thought of as freaks at first, but as it became more popular, the H+ and non H+ crowd would start getting along, and then maybe H+ would become the dominant norm. I'm curious to know how to those who become H+ due to accidents will treat those who were born "normal" (for lack of a better word) or weren't in accidents that choose to replace body parts with bionics.
    • CommentAuthorArgos
    • CommentTimeFeb 23rd 2012
    Also curious to know how advancements in H+ technology can be of use to genderqueer folk. One of my professors, who is a transwoman, did her MFA using second life. She immersed herself in second life for 365 hours as a dragon, to mimic the one year requirement that transfolk are required to live as their sex of choice if they want reassignment surgery, to ask the question if living virtually as a different species can satisfy that requirement for those wishing to be something completely different. Anyway, she used to talk a lot about the use of technology to become "Transreal," and how we can use such technologies to create and shape our own identities.
      CommentAuthorIron Imp
    • CommentTimeFeb 23rd 2012 edited

    You may actually be able to overcome your deafness in the one ear with a Cochular implant. It's obviously a complicated procedure and if you get by in day to day life fine, it might be more trouble than you need, but if you're interested here's the link on the general technology and procedure - Just so you know about some of the options out there.
  2.  (10513.7)
    @Iron Imp - Thanks for that, it made for an interesting read. I think I'll hold out for a better version tho. As you say, I function perfectly well with one ear, in fact my direction specific hearing is very strong, I've always assumed that it is compensating for the loss of the other one.

    This is what puts me off:
    British Member of Parliament Jack Ashley received a cochlear implant in 1994 at age 70 after 25 years of deafness, and reported that he has no trouble speaking to people he knows; whether one on one or even on the telephone, although he might have difficulty with a new voice or with a busy conversation, and still had to rely to some extent on lip reading. He described the robotic sound of human voices perceived through the cochlear implant as "a croaking dalek with laryngitis".

    Still, chalk another one up to H+. Bionic ears are go.

    Whilst I'm writing, it occurs to me that another of the "conditions for transhumanism" is that we start to grant and recognise rights for sentient non-humans, which reminds me of this story and this lawsuit, and I wonder how far off we are from that.
    • CommentTimeFeb 24th 2012
    @Magnus - Governments around the world are consistantly failing to recognise Human Rights Conventions (or in the case of the UK, trying to back out of previous agreements). What makes anyone think that they are likely to grant rights to non-human sentient beings - apart possibly from a few incredibly progressive nations? (nb, Not that I am necessarily against the idea)

    Regarding the H+ movement, I am one of the "we have been transhuman ever since we started to use tools" camp. As someone who uses an augmentation to see properly at normal distances (ie. I am miopic and wear glasses to correct my sight), and other tools to augment my vision for greater distances (binoculars and telescopes) or smaller scales (microscopes) I believe we have already gone beyond our natural biological limitations. Is someone fitted with a medical pacemaker a cyborg? How about Oscar Pistorius? Already non-surgical (i.e drug) treatments are commonplace in sports to boost individuals performance. Are steroid/HGH/EPO users PostHuman?

    On a personal level I feel somewhat in a minority in that I don't have any tattoos/piercings or other body-mods, and I can't foresee a time where I would be wililng to grind myself with any kind of H+ augmentation, beyond possibly wanting my vision corrected with LAY-ZERS at some point. I have no issue with whatever with other people going down the elective body-mod route and I can see why people would want to augment their fleshy meatselves for additional/greater abilities.

    As a fan of wearable computech, Clatter-style HUD contact lenses would be kinda awesome though..