Body modification as performed by biohackers who desire to be cyborgs.
TESA: Technology/Entrepreneurship/Society/Arts FINDING:
What happens when you combine the skills of a computer hacker, the pioneering mentality of body modifiers, and the desire to become a cyborg and live forever? Whatever you call it — bizarre, stupid, avant-garde, the future — It’s happening in basements, garages, and hotel rooms right now. You just cannot make this stuff up. Above ground, biotech is a respectable domain of study and biolabs are socially acceptable spaces. Check out for example the TED talk referenced below. But, then ask yourself, Is Ellen Jorgensen’s TED talk naive and overly optimistic or pragmatic and reasonable? Watch the other videos, employ your own knowledge of human nature, and draw your own plausible scenarios of potential futures.
The next tech-savvy generations may drive the DIY evolution revolution from the underground as they push the boundaries of what is “normal” and socially “acceptable”. The socially acceptable boundaries of what one can do to one’s own body may become increasingly blurred. What began with the bizarre practices of tattooing and piercing (which are now perceived by some as “normal”) will continue down a painful path towards an unimaginable end. (Please see the video referenced below about the man who drilled holes in his head in order to don a metal mohawk as an example of how far some are willing to go). A counter-trend of those totally “unscarred” may emerge as a counter point. The assumed right of Governments and corporations to own information and eventually even the human body may be challenged by rogue biohackers. Yes, there will amazing possibilities for personal biotech as well but this “spot” is about the current underground.
In the future, hackers’ and activists’ disputes with restrictive governments may not only be about communication, information, and digital infrastructure, but may also shift into debates about our own technologically-improved physical beings. In the face of companies and governmental agencies developing implants that are protected by patents and secret test procedures, the question of how to remain in control of our bodies may turn out to be a very real pressing social issue…
FINDING: Small cube shaped robots — called M blocks — that can assemble themselves will get smaller and may become autonomous
Imagine coming home and entering an apparently empty room. You walk to the window and begin to sit down. Tiny robots immediately begin to assemble themselves into a chair the rises to meet you as you sit.
It will seem like magic, but it’s just 21st century technology at work. The applications for this kind of technology are immense. Imagine an earthquake damaged building or a bridge about to collapse. Call in the swarm of M blocks and watch them solve how to support the structures and spare human life.
Could we also see swarms of insect like things taking over the planet? Come on. That couldn’t happen.
Welcome to the future.
“In the future we envision … the modules …completely autonomously, in a distributed fashion, deciding how, when, and where to move… so we want to take a large group of cubes and tell them, “form this shape” …and have the cubes decide on their own how to accomplish that task.”
TOPIC: Information Gathering and Privacy TESA: Technology/Entrepreneurship/Society/Arts
In May 2013 UK ad firm, Renew, embedded technology within trash bins that interacted with the smart devices of pedestrians passing by.
Certainly this is a story about technology, but I placed it in the “Society” category because of the implications with regard to privacy. My sense is that we will not be able to stop the proliferation of these kinds of technologies. Ultimately, everything about us will be “known” or, at least, discoverable at all times. The implications of this is that the very meanings of “personal” and “private” will mean something quite different at the end of this century than they did at the beginning. The ideas of “personal” and “private” are both social constructs that have differing meanings across time and culture. In the future, they may be archaic words with only ancient meanings or words with redefined meanings that we cannot yet fathom.
“We will cookie the street,” Renew Chief Executive Kaveh Memari.
“The trash cans join a host of everyday objects from televisions to toilets that are being manufactured with the ability to send and receive data, opening up new potential for interaction — and surveillance.”
FINDING: University of Washington researchers have performed what they believe is the first noninvasive human-to-human brain interface, with one researcher able to send a brain signal via the Internet to control the hand motions of a fellow researcher.
IMPLICATIONS: While it’s not Mr. Spock’s Vulcan Mind Meld, the implications of this are still staggering. We’re already imagining a future in which we will not need devices… no iPhones, no iPads, nothing… to communicate. All will need is to be wirelessly connected to the ubiquitous information stream all around us. And now we’re taking things to a whole new level. I can see this as the premise for a new movie about a “kidnap” victim in which the word “kidnapped” has a whole new meaning. Rather than being taken, the victim is invaded and forced to do things by another human through a mind-to-mind internet connection. The excuse, the devil made me do it, doesn’t fly. But maybe, my neighbor or “friend” made me do it, will.
“It was both exciting and eerie to watch an imagined action from my brain get translated into actual action by another brain,” Rao said. “This was basically a one-way flow of information from my brain to his. The next step is having a more equitable two-way conversation directly between the two brains.”
Finding: The continuing work to develop an electronic skin could be used to monitor medical conditions or to provide more sensitive and lifelike prosthetics.
Implications: Future Earth is occupied by three kinds of “human-like” beings: cyborgs, clones, and robots. Imagine everything you touch, the moment you touch it, as a way of reading how your body is doing. Your steering wheel, for example, will automatically measure your blood pressure and heart rate and send that information to your healthcare providers alerting them and you to any signals of trouble. That has lots of positives. But what are the implications to “privacy”. Will the meaning of “privacy” and “personal” will have entirely different, or at least antiquated, meanings in a future in which not only your email is being read, but you yourself?
“Your skin is essentially an interface between your brain and the external world. It senses a tap on the shoulder or the heat from a fire, and your brain takes in that information and decides how to react. If we want bionic skins to do the same, they must incorporate sensors that can match the sensitivity of biological skins.”
“Human skin is so thin, yet it serves as a boundary between us and the external world. My dream is to make responsive electronic coverings that bridge that divide. Instead of cold metal robots and hard plastic prosthetics, I imagine machines and people clothed in sensitive e-skin, allowing for a two-way exchange of information. Making our mechanical creations seem almost warm and alive and placing imperceptible electronics on humans will change how people relate to technology. The harmonization of people and machines: This is the cyborg future that e-skins could bring.”
Finding: Developed in Australia, new wet suit makes surfers and swimmers invisible (or repellent) to sharks.
Implications: Will this technology create a new tourist industry for those of us who would like to see these animals in the wild? Will other technologies follow that will help humans become invisible or undesirable to other predators in the wild? How about, for example, a suit that makes us invisible to bears? How will this combine with something like the Costa Rican initiative to close down their Zoos and return their animals to the wild? Will we enter a new era in which the whole of the natural world is a relatively safer nature park for humans?