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Surprising Science

How To Become A Cyborg For Fun And Profit

A small but growing number of people are using the latest technologies to give themselves abilities that look and sound like something out of an X-Men comic.

What’s the Latest Development?

Rather than think about what humans of the future might be able to accomplish, a growing number of people are taking advantage of a wide range of relatively low-tech and affordable gadgets to turn themselves into cyborgs right now. They range from Kevin Warwick, who was declared the world’s first cyborg after having an RFID chip implanted in his arm, to Neil Harbisson, who was born with complete color-blindness and ended up building a head-mounted camera that allows him to “hear” colors. A short film featuring Harbisson and his nonprofit, Cyborg Foundation, won the Grand Jury Prize in the 2013 GE Focus Forward Filmmaker competition.

What’s the Big Idea?

Bionic implants have been around for a long time now, but today’s technologies are allowing perfectly healthy people to modify their bodies to do unusual things. In most cases the powers they give themselves are fairly benign; for example, software developer Tim Cannon had a magnet inserted into his left ring finger. Cyborg Foundation executive and outdoorswoman Mariana Viada wants to create an internal compass that will always tell her which way is north. “People ask me why I would want to extend my senses, and I simply answer, ‘Why not?'” she says.

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Read it at Slate


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