Saturday, February 10, 2007

Reflections; cybernetics and augmented living

I was just browsing some of the products offered by Jabra and it hit me; cybernetics is going to be one of those quick and quiet revolutions. Ten to fifteen years from now we won't know what hit us and our value systems won't have adapted at all because we won't have seen it coming. It reminds me of the frog swimming in boiling water analogy.

In particular I was looking at the Flash promo for one of their new headsets: the JX10. It starts out like a nice piece of promotional techno-fetishism although I don't particularly like the design of this piece for a few reasons that I won't get into.

Right about when they show the man and woman both wearing the headset I'm assuming the goal was to invoke feelings of a sexual nature to make the desire for the headset stronger (a rather common practice). The image invoked a completely different emotion in me; a glimpse of how we will embrace being cyborgs without ever realizing what we are getting into until it's too late.

I suppose to put things into perspective there are a few really good TED talks:

I'm at odds with my feelings on this one. I'm morally against full blown human cyborg augmentation for similar reasons that I'm against doping in sports; it's a slippery slope and then if you even want to stand a fighting chance you need to jump on board to. At the same time I'm more than OK and probably would be an early adopter of most of the products and social phases that would form the stepping stones to that possible future.

1 comment:

Regis "HPReg" Duchesne said...

"I'm morally against full blown human cyborg augmentation for similar reasons that I'm against doping in sports"

Define full blown cyborg augmentation.
How are tomorrow's augmentation devices any different from today's devices? Like many people, I _want_ to use my augmentation devices every day to help me live a better life:
1) wristwatch
2) glasses
3) audition aids
4) artificial limbs
Very soon, thinking that people with an electronic bug in their ear are weird will be as nonsensical as thinking that people wearing wristwatches are weird.

About sports.
There is a competitive event as long as there are rules to define who can play the game and how it can play it. There is a reason why we don't make disabled people compete with "enabled" people, or men compete with women. Is adding an engine to a bicycle doping? No! The rules are clear: either you watch a bicycle race, or you watch a motorcycle race. I have no problem with competitive events between cyborgs as long as they are clearly labelled as such, so there is no cheating.

To me, _the only danger of cyborg augmentation is discrimination_ (Gattaca-style): just like I want equal opportunities regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, I also want equal opportunities regardless of cyborg augmentation. The problem is that once it is proven that you can think better with a supercomputer graffed on your scalp, it will be hard to prevent companies from not hiring people not equipped with the device.