We Are Becoming Cyborgs
Our species has already augmented our natural lifespan through our technology: drugs, supplements, replacement parts for virtually all bodily systems, and many other interventions. We have devices to replace our hips, knees, shoulders, elbows, wrists, jaws, teeth, skin, arteries, veins, heart valves, arms, legs, feet, fingers, and toes, and systems to replace more complex organs (for example, our hearts) are beginning to be introduced. As we learn the operating principles of the human body and brain, we will soon be in a position to design vastly superior systems that will last longer and perform better, without susceptibility to breakdown, disease, and aging.
One example of a conceptual design for such a system, called Primo Posthuman, was created by artist and cultural catalyst Natasha Vita-More. Her design is intended to optimize mobility, flexibility, and superlongevity. It envisions features such as a metabrain for global-net connection with a prosthetic neocortex of Al interwoven with nanobots, solar-protected smart skin that has biosensors for tone and texture changeability, and high-acuity senses. Although version 2.0 of the human body is an ongoing grand project that will ultimately result in the radical upgrading of all our physical and mental systems, we will implement it one small, benign step at a time.
So What's Left? Let's consider where we are, circa early 2030s. We've eliminated the heart, lungs, red and white blood cells, platelets, pancreas, thyroid and all the hormone-producing organs, kidneys, bladder, liver, lower esophagus, stomach, small intestines, large intestines, and bowel. What we have left at this point is the skeleton, skin, sex organs, sensory organs, mouth and upper esophagus, and brain. The skeleton is a stable structure, and we already have a reasonable understanding of how it works. We can now replace parts of it (for example, artificial hips and joints), although the procedure requires painful surgery, and our current technology for doing so has serious limitations. Interlinking nanobots will one day provide the ability to augment and ultimately replace the skeleton through a gradual and noninvasive process. The human skeleton version 2.0 will be very strong, stable, and self-repairing.
We will not notice the absence of many of our organs, such as the liver and pancreas, since we do not directly experience their operation. But the skin, which includes our primary and secondary sex organs, may prove to be an organ we will actually want to keep, or we may at least want to maintain its vital functions of communication and pleasure. However, we will ultimately be able to improve on the skin with new nanoengineered supple materials that will provide greater protection from physical and thermal environmental effects while enhancing our capacity for intimate communication. The same observation holds for the mouth and upper esophagus, which constitute the remaining aspects of the digestive system that we use to experience the act of eating.
We Are Becoming Cyborgs.
The human body version 2.0 scenario represents the continuation of a long-standing trend in which we grow more intimate with our technology. Computers started out as large, remote machines in air-conditioned rooms tended by white-coated technicians. They moved onto our desks, then under our arms, and now into our pockets. Soon, we'll routinely put them inside our bodies and brains.
Chris Hadfield, reassuring a five-year-old who was worried about the Voyager satellite, a space probe launched by NASA in 1977, the most distant man-made object from Earth still operating after 42 years.
Voyager is so happy, because it’s the bravest satellite of all. It has gone the furthest. And it’s not lonely, because it’s talking to us. It phones home. And it tells us all about the wonderful things that it’s seeing. …There’s a whole universe to explore, and it’s just leaving our Solar System right now. It’s very brave and very lucky to be doing what it’s doing, so it’s not going to get lost. It’s traveled further than anything we’ve ever built has traveled before. It’s actually showing us the way. …
It might have been safer for it to just stay home, and stay inside a building, but then it would have been sad forever, because it never would have done its purpose. It never would have discovered things. It’s all a wonderful story of great discovery and success, and it couldn’t have happened if Voyager hadn’t been brave…
It’s not really the fact that everything always has a start and an end, it’s what happens in the middle that counts. What do you while you’re alive? What do you do while you’re laughing? And I think we’re doing exactly what makes Voyager joyful and as happy as it could be.
Think about the fact that you’re a little bit like Voyager. In that you’re going to go see the world, and you’re going to call your mom on the phone and tell her about the wonderful things that you see. … You wouldn’t want to spend your whole life hiding under your bed and never seeing anything in your whole life, you want to be able to do what makes you happy and joyful and learn about things to discover. You might be the person that discovers something really important for everybody else on the world, but you can never discover that if you just hide and only do things that are safe. So think about yourself a little bit like Voyager. What makes you laugh? It’s not just staying, hiding underneath your bed safely at home
Magic's just science that we don't understand yet.
Planetary exploration satisfies our inclination for great enterprises and wanderings and quests that has been with us since our days as hunters and gatherers on the East African savannahs a million years ago. By chance—it is possible, I say, to imagine many skeins of historical causality in which this would not have transpired—in our age we are able to begin again.
Exploring other worlds employs precisely the same qualities of daring, planning, cooperative enterprise, and valor that mark the finest in military tradition. Never mind the night launch of an Apollo spacecraft bound for another world. That makes the conclusion foregone. Witness mere F-14s taking off from adjacent flight decks, gracefully canting left and right, afterburners flaming, and there’s something that sweeps you away—or at least it does me. And no amount of knowledge of the potential abuses of carrier task forces can affect the depth of that feeling. It simply speaks to another part of me. It doesn’t want recriminations or politics. It just wants to fly.
Data is the new oil. It’s valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used. It has to be changed into gas, plastic, chemicals, etc to create a valuable entity that drives profitable activity; so must data be broken down, analyzed for it to have value.