World's First Cyborg Speaks Out

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World's First Cyborg Speaks Out

Neil Harbisson hears colors and advocates for cyborg rights.

Artist Neil Harbisson was born with achromatopsia, a rare condition meaning that he cannot see any color. In 2004, he teamed up with computer scientist Adam Montandon to make the eyeborg, a device which translates colors to sounds for Harbisson to hear. Harbisson is said to be the first recognized cyborg in the world, since his passport photo includes his eyeborg enhancement. The eyeborg currently identifies 360 colors, one for each degree on the color wheel, and Harbisson wears it 24 hours a day. Neil Harbisson, on being a cyborg, says that he realized he was when "One day I started hearing colors in my dreams. Then I understood what being a cyborg meant. It's not the union between the eyeborg and my head, what converts me into a cyborg, but the union between the software and my brain. My body and the technology have united. It's very, very human to modify one's body with human creations."

Neil Harbisson helped found The Cyborg Foundation in 2010 and stepped up in his role as a cyborg activist. The Cyborg Foundation aims to help people become cyborgs, defend cyborg rights, and promote the use of cybernetics in the arts. The Cyborg Foundation also provides support to sense development projects like those Harbisson and Montandon collaborated on. Other Cyborg Foundation works include the speedborg, which lets people detect movement through vibrations, and the earborg, which translates sound into color.

The short film about Neil Harbisson, CYBORG FOUNDATION, recently won the GE Focus Forward short film competition at the Sundance Film Festival.

Source: Cyborg Foundation

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I want to hear colors and see sounds O.o

But for srsly this is pretty awesome and I'm pretty excited about how far we've come from the cave dwelling rock smashers were were when we first started popping up.

Hell I'm excited about how far we've come from just a century ago.

One day we will all be error.

He did not ask for this.

I for one welcome our new Cyborg Overlords.

The little antenna looks silly, especially with his haircut, but this is beautiful. I for one would without a doubt enhance my senses and my body through cybernetics, but of course people with disabilities come first.

I bet Cyborg-marriage will be recognized in Texas before gay-marriage.

Condense it into a replacement for the eyes and I'm on board, and if they can upgrade it to see the entire light spectrum then SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY! Then after that I want an arm that turns into a compact laser cannon.

It's also great that people who lack certain senses now have a new way to experience certain things, perhaps even more so than the rest of us.

Wow, pretty damn amazing.
Maybe in the future well be able to make blind people "see" with sounds, like bats do, or something...

So, where are my Biotic Amps then, huh?

" I don't want to be human. I want to see gamma rays, I want to hear X-rays, and I want to smell dark matter. Do you see the absurdity of what I am? I can't even express these things properly, because I have to -- I have to conceptualize complex ideas in this stupid, limiting spoken language, but I know I want to reach out with something other than these prehensile paws, and feel the solar wind of a supernova flowing over me. I'm a machine, and I can know much more, I could experience so much more, but I'm trapped in this absurd body."
- Cavil

we are running a bit late on the cyberpunk timeline. beginings of cyberwear, corporate dominance, disposable everything and technology everywhere that people can be seperated from

Rather than developing this kind of technology, wouldn't it be more effective to dump that cash in something like gene therapy and gene research? Being able to use a vector to put a properly working, dominative allele in the place of one of the recessive alleles that cause achromatopsia (or being able to find the recessive gene and deal with it during the embryo/fetus phase) would be far better than just sticking a machine into someone's head and make them "hear" sounds.

That'd be a future where I'd like to live.

Cyrromatic:
He did not ask for this.

He totally did brah.

OT: That is very cool, and much more compact and discreet than the enhancement I use to cope with my colour blindness...which is my girlfriend following me around shops so I can ask "what colour is this? What colour is that?".

And what's the first thing he did with this amazing gift? He made a painting of Justin Bieber's song. How delightful.

Respect to him. Let the flood gates of this new world spill forth.

This is awesome.

:D The future is now, folks! Call me when I can connect to the internet with my mind, and get ocular implants that allow me to zoom my vision and record and stuff. Oh, and fix my vision. I'd love to not have to deal with glasses anymore, as good as they look on me.

DVS BSTrD:
I bet Cyborg-marriage will be recognized in Texas before gay-marriage.

what about gay cyborg marriage?

also:

DESTROY ALL MEATBAGS

Reminded me of Alpha Centauri:

I for one would gladly become a cyborg, if the enhancements were an improvement. I've got quite crummy eyes, so I wouldn't mind some robotic replacements with built in nightvision or something.

Dear diary,

Today when I woke up, I learned that I had awoken in the future.

OniaPL:
Rather than developing this kind of technology, wouldn't it be more effective to dump that cash in something like gene therapy and gene research? Being able to use a vector to put a properly working, dominative allele in the place of one of the recessive alleles that cause achromatopsia (or being able to find the recessive gene and deal with it during the embryo/fetus phase) would be far better than just sticking a machine into someone's head and make them "hear" sounds.

That'd be a future where I'd like to live.

You would think so, but humans tend to prefer the easy answer to the right answer.

Finally! The time to upgrade is drawing near!

Wow...
I was starting to think I wouldn't live to see the day...

Good for him, it's really cool to see that this kinda thing is beginning to make an impact on people's lives.

Although "Nature sounds quite dull, but supermarkets are really exciting"? If I were him I'd ask for a retune of my Eyeborg.

DVS BSTrD:
I bet Cyborg-marriage will be recognized in Texas before gay-marriage.

Only because it will let them marry their guns.

Time to make my own Foundation for protecting human rights when they become the minority under the iron rule of our new Ur-Quan Masters... or some evil cyberpunk corporation XD

The key criterion for being a cyborg is the visibility of the implant? Interesting. So everyone with a pacemaker so well integrated into their bodies that they don't notice it is not a cyborg, or is it just that old folks who spend most of their time ignoring the tech implants aren't cool?

OniaPL:
Rather than developing this kind of technology, wouldn't it be more effective to dump that cash in something like gene therapy and gene research? Being able to use a vector to put a properly working, dominative allele in the place of one of the recessive alleles that cause achromatopsia (or being able to find the recessive gene and deal with it during the embryo/fetus phase) would be far better than just sticking a machine into someone's head and make them "hear" sounds.

That'd be a future where I'd like to live.

Were it that easy.

- Vectors: very tricky. We don't really have too much here yet. Retroviruses could work, but their random placement their genome onto a chromosome and the high number of cells in a human body makes it highly likely that you get some form of cancer.
- Not everything is dominant/recessive. Hell: for many genes we hardly know the functions, and almost all functions of a tissue depend on a huge genetic network. Also: if you don't spot the dysfunction in time, you're most likely fucked, since post-fetal growing of the right neural cells to the right parts of the brain is going to be a clusterfuck.

Also: the branch of molecular biology involved in what you're discussing and the branch of informatics/robotics which is used here are completely separate. Why not do both of them?

rhizhim:

DVS BSTrD:
I bet Cyborg-marriage will be recognized in Texas before gay-marriage.

what about gay cyborg marriage?

also:

DESTROY ALL MEATBAGS

Cyborg marriage will take place the way GOD intended!

OniaPL:
Rather than developing this kind of technology, wouldn't it be more effective to dump that cash in something like gene therapy and gene research? Being able to use a vector to put a properly working, dominative allele in the place of one of the recessive alleles that cause achromatopsia (or being able to find the recessive gene and deal with it during the embryo/fetus phase) would be far better than just sticking a machine into someone's head and make them "hear" sounds.

That'd be a future where I'd like to live.

I agree with you in theory but that kind of research wouldn't help him now, realistically both need to be invested in. Sure we should research prevention of this kind of stuff but it's already affecting a lot of people so we just as much should help them overcome their difficulties rather than just saying "you're on your own, we'll fix it before the next batch of people".

snagli:
The little antenna looks silly, especially with his haircut, but this is beautiful. I for one would without a doubt enhance my senses and my body through cybernetics, but of course people with disabilities come first.

very true, if anything i'd ask if they could turn it into some kind of helmet/hat thing. I'd be too nervous that it'd catch on something (top of a door, something hanging) so i'd like some stability holding it on my head.

this is fucking epic though, really interesting to see this happen in our lifetime.

JonB:
"One day I started hearing colors in my dreams.

Due to a side-effect of profound grief and longing, I gained the sense of touch in my dreams, which I had never had before. Our dreams are a collection of our experiences and our thoughts. You don't dream about eyeborgs or smartphone displays or trees if you never saw one.

JonB:
Then I understood what being a cyborg meant. It's not the union between the eyeborg and my head, what converts me into a cyborg, but the union between the software and my brain. My body and the technology have united.

If you're specifically using tech-modifies-neurons as a requirement for being a cyborg, someone beat you to it. Several someones, probably, but the first one I can think of is George Stratton in the 1890s, who wore a pair of glasses that ultimately changed the way his brain processed images.

Awesome technology! My grandfather was totally colorblind and loved new technology, he probably would have loved this.

I'm no cyborg, but my brain does something just the opposite. When I hear music or tonal sounds, I perceive a specific color along with it. My piano teacher thought I was crazy.

Mojo:
Wow, pretty damn amazing.
Maybe in the future well be able to make blind people "see" with sounds, like bats do, or something...

What do you mean, in the future?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_echolocation

Redingold:

Mojo:
Wow, pretty damn amazing.
Maybe in the future well be able to make blind people "see" with sounds, like bats do, or something...

What do you mean, in the future?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_echolocation

I stand corrected.
But they aren't using cyborg tech yet. Everything is better with cyborg tech.

EDIT: Okay, seems they're working on cyborg tech too.

Mojo:

Redingold:

Mojo:
Wow, pretty damn amazing.
Maybe in the future well be able to make blind people "see" with sounds, like bats do, or something...

What do you mean, in the future?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_echolocation

I stand corrected.
Beu they aren't using cyborg tech yet. Everything is better with cyborg tech.

Look more closely, specifically at Kevin Warwick's section.

Not really the first cyborg, just one of the first to label himself as such. Personally, I see him as another human just with some extra bits. Equality and that. I guess people with pacemakers, brain electrodes, artificial limbs, joint replacements and hearing aids aren't cool enough to be considered 'cyborgs'.

Personally I don't get what the big deal is. I mean, it's a great day for science and I'm glad this guy can now identify colours, but let's be honest, people have been using prosthetics for ages now. And it's not like this is bound to turn into a human rights issue. I mean, we already have the Paralympics, don't we? I think the transition from natural bodies to technologically enhanced ones will go fairly smoothly, with no real problems concerning human rights. The only one who's being really bigoted here is Google, because their spell-checker refuses to recognize either "prosthetics" or "paralympics" as actual words (but then their maps refuse to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state).

ron1n:
I for one welcome our new Cyborg Overlords.

Traitor...

Alleged_Alec:

OniaPL:
Rather than developing this kind of technology, wouldn't it be more effective to dump that cash in something like gene therapy and gene research? Being able to use a vector to put a properly working, dominative allele in the place of one of the recessive alleles that cause achromatopsia (or being able to find the recessive gene and deal with it during the embryo/fetus phase) would be far better than just sticking a machine into someone's head and make them "hear" sounds.

That'd be a future where I'd like to live.

Were it that easy.

- Vectors: very tricky. We don't really have too much here yet. Retroviruses could work, but their random placement their genome onto a chromosome and the high number of cells in a human body makes it highly likely that you get some form of cancer.
- Not everything is dominant/recessive. Hell: for many genes we hardly know the functions, and almost all functions of a tissue depend on a huge genetic network. Also: if you don't spot the dysfunction in time, you're most likely fucked, since post-fetal growing of the right neural cells to the right parts of the brain is going to be a clusterfuck.

Also: the branch of molecular biology involved in what you're discussing and the branch of informatics/robotics which is used here are completely separate. Why not do both of them?

That's why I said "dumping the cash into developing it"; I'm aware that getting a vector, for example the processed retrovirus to actually bring the gene to the right cell, put it in the right place and for the gene to successfully replace the "broken" part without even taking polygenes into consideration are all problems that would need to be solved. That's what I'd like to see; to get these kind of problems solved.

Achromatopsia, however, is caused by autosomal recessive genes as far as I am aware.

Where you got me though was that it really wouldn't help him. I threw a guess that his inability to see colors was just because of some kind of problem with the cone cells where they do not produce the pigment and that if we were to "repair" the genes, the cone cells would be able to do that which would possibly allow him t osee colors again.

But of course the cause could be a number of things, and it probably wouldn't be that simple.
Yeah, they are completely separate, but I just personally find the idea of sticking a metal device on the top of someone's head to get them to "see" colors to be a clumsy, non-elegant solution.

Frontastic:

OniaPL:
Rather than developing this kind of technology, wouldn't it be more effective to dump that cash in something like gene therapy and gene research? Being able to use a vector to put a properly working, dominative allele in the place of one of the recessive alleles that cause achromatopsia (or being able to find the recessive gene and deal with it during the embryo/fetus phase) would be far better than just sticking a machine into someone's head and make them "hear" sounds.

That'd be a future where I'd like to live.

I agree with you in theory but that kind of research wouldn't help him now, realistically both need to be invested in. Sure we should research prevention of this kind of stuff but it's already affecting a lot of people so we just as much should help them overcome their difficulties rather than just saying "you're on your own, we'll fix it before the next batch of people".

Well, I suppose so. But we could also instead just find the answer to the problem sooner to prevent more people with something like achromatopsia being born. Though that delves more into the area of moral dilemmas; whether to let people be born with it and just help them out, or whether to prevent it all together but leaving the pre-existing ones fucked.

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