Human machines can inject magnets into their fingers to sense electromagnetic fields; plant chips under their skins with which they open doors; or implant devices in their skulls to sharpen their senses. Gimmickry - or are these the pioneers of some brave new world.
Technology has moved closer and closer to people in recent years, making life faster and easier, but also more hectic - and more observable. Some people are now taking the next step: Cyborgs or human machines that integrate technology into their bodies to enhance their abilities and expand their senses. Who are these people? And what drives them?
Oliver Waack-Jürgensen from Berlin is one of them. He suffers from a bone disease and has two artificial knees and an artificial hip and will be getting another new hip soon: So far, so normal. But the new hip will be able to do more than the old conventional one: recharge a mobile phone wirelessly from its kinetic energy, for example, or measure and analyze body data and save and transfer it via Bluetooth. It may even host a free router: WLAN from the hip.
Neil Harbisson is already one step ahead. The Briton is the world's first officially recognized cyborg. He is color-blind and can only perceive the world in shades of grey. However, the "Eyeborg,” an antenna in his head, allows him to hear colors. A sensor scans the colors in Neil's field of vision and then a chip in his head converts them into sounds. Each color has its own individual sound in his ears. Not only can Neil cannot hear the spectrum of colors visible to us, he can also perceive ultraviolet and infrared waves.
Neil Harbisson is a co-founder of the Cyborg Foundation - an international organization that helps people become cyborgs. But at what price - and where are the limits? Are we losing our humanity? What would happen to society if some people had superhuman abilities? Whatever the answer, technology is already getting closer to us than we could ever have imagined - in some cases even under our skin.
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