Going to the movies is not what it used to be. Security at the studio-owned theatres is heavy, it's not a trip to be taken lightly. But if you want to see the film everyone is talking about without waiting a year for the home release, you have little choice. When you enter the lobby the first thing you see are long ranks of tiny, thumbprint activated lockers. This is where you must leave all of your electronics, your personal server and peripherals, even your watch, and you had better not be wearing smart spectacles or contacts. As you enter the security zone you're scanned for anything you may have forgotten. Cochlea and optical implants must be capable of responding with a coded RF identification signal to indicate their systems are secure and cannot record. People with older models, or models implanted abroad where such interrogation is illegal, are turned away. Perhaps they would like to see one of the older releases? Once through the scanner you must submit to a biometric ID test - this is where the known bloggers, hackers and spoilers are ejected. Finally there is the non-disclosure agreement to be signed - these days most moviegoers choose to sign via the MPAAs annual subscription, just trying to take some of the hassle out of visiting the cinema. Finally you get to see the film. In the auditorium the audience is constantly scanned by an AI looking for suspicious activity, so don't rummage in your pockets for too long. It's strange that all this effort to protect the movie industry has done so little to improve the movies.
[ Link via boingboing ]
This prothestic knee uses sensors to adapt to the wearer's walking pattern, to help emulate how a real leg would operate. Very cool medical tech.
The "Rheo Knee," [has] built-in sensors that can measure how far the knee is bent, as well as the amount of force the user applies to it while walking – a computer chip then analyses user's walk and continually adapts the movement and resistance of the knee accordingly.
"The Rheo knee has an adaptiveness that's both immediate and very rapid, and also an adaptiveness that's more longer term," Herr explains. "The knee has the ability to adapt step to step, from minute to minute, from hour to hour."
This cybernetics project looks interesting:
It works in much the same way as a real hand; by using synthetic tendons that run through each finger, the artificial hand only needs 6 motors to control motion. So far they’ve created a touch sensitive prototype, and now it looks like their next task is to attach the hand and fire it up. Though what’s really got us excited is the wireless communication between the nerve endings and the hand, opening up a whole realm of possibilities for hot-swapping arm attachments. We think you know where we’re going with this. [engadget]
This Cyborg Bill of Rights by "Cyborgologist" Chris Hables Gray caught my attention, but I'm not sure how much it applies to cyborgs, as it doesn't really address some of the problems that people like Steve Mann have had as a result of being different from the norm. Here are a few bits that did seem interesting:
Freedom of Consciousness. The consciousness of the citizen shall be protected by the First, Fourth, and Eighth Amendments. Unreasonable search and seizure in this, the most sacred and private part of an individual citizen, shall be absolutely prohibited. Individuals shall retain all rights to modify their consciousness through psychopharmological, medical, genetic, spiritual and other practices in so far as they do not threaten the fundamental rights of other individuals and citizens and if they do so at their own risk and expense.
Freedom of Information. Citizens shall have access to all information held on them by governments or other bureaucracies. Citizens shall have the right to correct all information held on them by governments and other bureaucracies at the expense of these bureaucracies. Institutional and corporate use of information to coerce or otherwise illegally manipulate or act upon citizens shall be absolutely forbidden.
Can I have the LCD Lens and Telescope Lens implanted at the same time? Yes, you can. We do however recommend waiting another 6 months when a new model with both options will be coming out.
Some artists put together this site intended to explore people's reaction to commercial, cyborganic, high tech implants. You have to answer some questions first to get to the site, but it's pretty interesting. I love the comment in the picture above from a visitor, "are these items genuinely for sale?". How soon do you think until a cyborg web shop actually does open? There are already two wearable computing stores that I personally know of.
Visioncare Inc. has developed a telescope eye implant, which can reportedly zoom up to 3X. It is designed for people with age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, instead of those who want better than human vision, but it's a step in the right direction. Just imagine being able to get an implant that allows your eyes to zoom far beyond our natural limitations. Instead of seeing someone wave to you from a distance, you could tell if they had rings on their fingers or not.
The device is implanted in one eye, which provides central vision [...] while the non-implanted eye provides peripheral vision for mobility and navigation. After the surgical procedure, the patient participates in a structured vision rehabilitation program to maximize their ability to perform daily activities. Situated in the eye, the device allows patients to use natural eye movements to scan the environment and reading materials.
[ Link via shawn vlad ]
Found a tribe on tribe.net called "Radical Cyborgs", which seems to hold some promise for discusssion. Here's the description:
Democratic transhumanists, revolutionary singularitarians, leftist extropians, bioutopians, socialist-feminist cyborgs, biopunks, transgenders, body modifiers, basic income, the culture, viridians.
One of the topics I really liked was "What cybernetic enhancement / device do you need?". Check it out, there's some fun comments there.
We are not free in this human society because we need to eat, to drink and to sleep. And even in a ideal techno-utopic society, it would be impossible to be free because we die.
If we want to be free, before thinking of other possibilities, we would have to remove those needs.
Think of alga, maybe you think it ’s a lower being, and it is in some ways, but it doesn ’t need to kill to live. Alga gets its energy directly from sun.
What kind of device would we need to insert inside of our human bodies to be a kind of intelligent seaweed?
Cell research is breaking new ground for cybernetics, thanks to the University of Nebraska. Bacteria have been successfully used as a humidity sensor, and aparently still change shape in response to humidity even a month after they die.
Living bacteria have been incorporated into an electronic circuit to produce a sensitive humidity gauge.
The device unites microbe and machine, taking advantage of the properties of both to make for a supersensitive sensor.
"As far as we know, this is the first report of using microorganisms to make an electronic device," says Ravi Saraf, a chemist from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, who developed the 'cellborg' with his student Vikas Berry.
While this is taking the approach of embedding cells in electronics, instead of electronics in humans, it still is a big step forward to merging flesh and technology.
[ Link via we-make-money-not-art ]
Cyborg 101, aka "Warrior's Guide to the Blackboard Jungle" is an online book written by Angus T.K. Wong that expores cyborgs. Reprinted by Grasshopper Enterpises, and preserved by the Wayback Machine, this is a romp through cybernetic technology.
Nowaways, the term "cybernetics" has taken on new meaning. It describes the interaction between humans and machines. In fact, the "cybernetic relationship" requires that there be little distinction between the component organic and mechanical parts. A person with a surgically-implanted device, such as a pace-maker, is a prime example. The key to the use of the word "cybernetics" in the context of this book is to realise that cybernetic devices enhance organic functions. I will discuss not only cybernetic hardware, but cybernetic principles as well. In the competitive world of the urban jungle, it takes more than animal instinct and brute force to survive. Indeed, these two traits, so vital once long ago, may even be counter-productive in this day and age. Because of our biological limitations, and because of the modern demands placed on every person to perform at higher levels, it is foolhardy not to take advantage of advanced technology to assist us in our endeavours. It is this cybernetic assistance that I will show you.
[ Link to archived site via del. Image from BenJ ]
You too can own a 4-6 year old small cyborg child.
Teen Titan Cyborg Child - Small 4-6 Web Only $28.99
The specs are a bit sparse though, no idea if the child comes with bionic legs to jump over small buildings, or lasers in it's eyes, but it's a good deal. You can't even get a regular child for under thirty dollars.
[ Link ]
Ray Kurzweil, who has a new book called "The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology", is predicting that a borg singularity, like that of Star Trek. His prediction is based on Moore's Law, which when applied to current techology, claims that by 2030 a $1 computer will be as powerful as the human brain, which lends to the transfer of a brain to computer, or at least a merging of the two.
Your concept of the future relies heavily on "strong AI," the idea that artificial intelligence will become self-aware and eventually surpass human intelligence. But it seems like AI researchers have abandoned that idea for focused real-world applications like face recognition. I was at a speech this week where computer science professor Rudy Rucker said that strong AI was dead.
Kurzweil: There are hundreds of applications where AI is performing projects that would have required a human level of intelligence a few years ago. Those include diagnosing heart disease, routing e-mail messages, cell phone routing, landing planes.
We are now in an era of narrow AI, meaning it's not strong AI. It's not the full range of human intelligence. But it's performing functions that used to require human intelligence. Looking for credit card fraud is one example of that. These were research projects 15 years ago.
This isn't 2029. We'll make a billionfold increase in hardware capacity between now and then. We're also doubling the resolution of brain scanning every year. So it's a long case, which is why it took a whole book to express it. But we'll have the hardware and software in the 2020s for strong AI. We're a factor of a billion (away).
The tools we have to model the brain, to scan the brain, to simulate these processes, all of these are doubling every year. What that means from the perspective of the 2020s is that it's a very doable project.
I tend to be on the verge with this one; technology has limitations, which lend to coming up with dramatically different solutions to computational problems, but that really comes down to what you think of Moore's Law. I'm also unsure about AI's ability to really make complicated decisions when they still make lousy opponents in video games.
Nike, Bausch & Lomb have teamed together to make contact lenses that act as sunglasses, and assist sports players in various ways. It doesn't seem like vaporware either, it's reported to be bound for stores this month. The contact lenses are tinted in such a way that allows greater clarity for certain sports activites.
"Nike Maxsight contact lenses come in a grey-green tint and an amber tint, [see picture], to enhance different parts of the light spectrum for different activities.
The grey-green lenses are designed to enhance the green and red portions of the visual spectrum of natural sunlight to improve detail and contour recognition. This is ideal for sports played in bright sunlight such as golf, football, running and rugby.
The amber assists athletes playing fast-moving ball sports played in variable light such as soccer, tennis, baseball and softball. The tint selectively filters wavelengths in the blue-green portion of the visible spectrum, making the ball pop out of the background."
Sounds very interesting, although having worn contacts in the past, I kind of think they're a pain, but this may become a very hip thing to do, much like other cosmetic contact lenses.
[ Link ]
"Neil Harbisson is, quite literally, a man who has always viewed life in black and white. The 22-year-old Spaniard, who moved to Totnes in south Devon in 2003, was born with achromatopsia, a rare condition that affects only one person in 33,000 and causes monochromatism, or complete colour blindness.
But last year, he was able to see – or, more accurately, hear – colours for the first time. Neil has been fitted with a machine that turns colours into soundwaves, with a different sound representing each hue. The Eye-Borg, as it is known, features a head-mounted digital camera that reads the colours in front of Neil and converts them into sound. A scale of musical tones represents the spectrum of colours – light hues are high-pitched, while darker colours sound bolder. It is, in a way, forced synaesthesia; its creator, 24-year-old digital multimedia expert Adam Montandon, describes the invention as "like hearing a colour wheel"."
I think 'Eye-Borg' is a bit of a silly name, especially as it doesn't communicate what it's really for. In any case I'm all for people enabling themselves, to overcome shortcomings, or go beyond their biological limitations. I look forward to finding out more about this project.
[ Link to HMC MediaLab ]
[Here's a] flash examining the potential of bioelectronic implants, nanotechnology, smart clothing, computers and telecommunications for creating cyborgs in our lifetime.
I watched this flash animation without sound, and it was pretty interesting. Could be good for explaining the benefits of medical implants and nanotechnology. Also seems to touch on the concept of a singularity.
[ Link via del.icio.us ]
Oh yeah, that guy is Bill Gates.
"One of the guys that works at Microsoft ... always says to me 'I'm ready, plug me in,"' Gates said at a Microsoft seminar in Singapore. "I don't feel quite the same way. I'm happy to have the computer over there and I'm over here."
As one /.'er says:
Well Bill... Resistance is futile.
[ Link to boring Technology Review article (via /.) ]
"The notion that your leg is a machine part and it is exposed, that it is an enhancement, is becoming comfortable in the sense that it can be made a part of you."'
It had to happen, and it did. I got into a fight with my girlfriend about replacing body parts, and she seemed really concerned that I might actually remove a leg in order to replace it. I explained that I would only want to improve, not take a step back, from my humanity. That being said, she still didn't like the idea of replacing my bones with stronger materials, or other unseen modifications. Interesting how some people react to tampering with the human body when it's not meant to restore someone, like with this bloke who lost his legs in a train accident.
[ Link via del.icio.us ]
[From The ARQuake Photo Gallery which is a part of the Tinmith augmented reality project]
Just found a series of links about an interesting cyborg-artist, who has been working in performance art since the 1970s. BMEZine has an article about his earlier work with suspensions, but I think you'll appreciate his more cyborganic experimentations:
And from CTHEORY:
The objectification of the body, a theory that informs Stelarc's cyborg experiments, is not actually a modern idea. The body as a machine, is a theory that is tied to the work of the seventeenth century thinker Rene Descartes. In 1637, Descartes published the Discourse on Method . The body is composed of only mechanical functioning, wrote Descartes. The body and mind were distinctly separate for Descartes, who thought the body a machine, to be informed by the higher order rationality of the mind, that was imbued with pneuma (breath of God or soul). Stelarc's body and mind have been hollowed out from this dualistic theory. It does not mean he is an atheist, as if his mind or soul does not exist. Rather, he revitalizes the body with respect to consciousness.' [The Body Without Memory: An Interview with Stelarc by Mark Fernandes]
Selarc's experiments seem similar in many regards to the work of The Psymbiote and Steve Mann. I sure hope Stelarc brings his peformances to Los Angeles!
[Official website, Recent peformances via snfg on del.icio.us/tag/cyborg/]
My brother just wrote me from Santa Cruz about a bit of futuretech:
Turns out cyborg bush has a companion in his ranks:
The above photo is a video game rendition of the Future Force Warrior for a new game, Ghost Recon 2. This photo, and the one from the army to the right are what our modern army is probably going to look like. On the opposite of the spectrum, a 27 minute film has been released called "60 Cameras against the War", which is one of the first compiled witnessal networks exposing the truth behind the 2003 anti-war protest in New York city. According to the film, protesters were denied permits to protest legally:
I'm excited about the Future Force Warrior program, and the use of cameras by anti-war protesters, but it's important to be aware of the barriers between citizens and authority, especially when the government is suiting up police with the same kind of helmet cameras that the Future Force Warrior program is pushing.
I just hope that these cameras are designed to be open and free for everyone to see. When the police break the rules they're supposed to enforce, there should be a recording to make them accountable.
[Link to 60 Minutes Against the War (hosted for free by Archive.org)]
Don't mess with Cyborgs.
[Link via boingboing]
Just found a new blog called Cyborg Democracy.
Okay wow. WTF? Now I need to read deeper.
Looks like some relic from the 80's. Maybe they don't get mugged enough in NY anymore.
Robert Vitalini from Wheii.com, a cool futurism/trends site, sent me this photo of his friend Tom Brooks as an igargoyle photo submission.
I just found this book, called "Natural Born Cyborgs" by Andy Clark, which I imagine is a good technological-read. Clark has written 27 other books, many dealing with artificial inteligence and cognitive science.
Another book that Clark has written, "Mindware" was reviewed as being
Since I haven't read either books, here is a description of Clark's "Natural Born Cyborgs":
I can only imagine that this is worth going to if you're in the Toronto area. If you're attending, I would please email me about moblogging and/or photoblogging the event.
"The theme of this year's conference is "Art and Life in the Posthuman Era," featuring such presenters as cyborg Steve Mann, Australian performance artist Stelarc, Extropy Institute founder Max More, leading biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey, and transhumanist philosopher Nick Bostrom, among many others." [boingboing]
Also check out the World Transhumanist Association. They even have a blog, how is it that I've never heard of them? Do I live in a technological cave?
[Link via boingboing]
The sequel to the huge anime hit, Ghost in the Shell, is about to go on a limited release. Written and directed by Mamoru Oshii, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence was the "first anim� to ever screen in competition at the Cannes Film Festival" and may be the first cyborg story to be shown at Cannes. From the looks of the movie's website and their production photos, this is going to completely outdo the first Ghost in the Shell, as well as the GITS television series.
The original film "is set in the not-too-distant future, when an unnamed government uses lifelike cyborgs or 'enhanced' humans for undercover work" [Charles Solomon via amazon]. Commingsoon.net describes this sequel as "the story of a solitary cyborg who desperately wants to hold on to what's left of his humanity in a world where the worth of the human soul is fading almost into obscurity".
The sequel will be released in U.S. theaters on September 17, 2004 under the Go Fish Pictures banner, a division of DreamWorks Pictures. Anyone in the LA area is welcome to join us for the premiere, details will be announced in September.
Wallpapers can be downloaded from here here and here.
[Link (English GITS:Innocence Website) Link (Japanese Innocence Website). Production photos from commingsoon.net]
I'm an avid NPR listener, so I was totally pleased to find out that they have interviewed the ever evolving cyborg, Steve Mann. He talks about his body's "dashboard" which shows him his heartrate and other bodily functions. Also touches on sousveillance - "the people watching the powers that be". Available in both RealAudio & Windows Media Player 9.
[Link via news.google.com:cyborg. Photo from wearcam]]
Zarlink Semiconductor is working under the EU to develop antennas for implants. This is big news for anyone with a pacemaker since currently patients with problematic implants need to go under the knife in order to fix their medical gadgets. With an antenna on board, doctors could fix the devices wirelessly. The development works up to three meters and can "work on wireless bands devoted to medical implant communications in both the United States and Europe."
Hacking concerns aside, I see this as a major improvment and would be great for things like digital tattoos and cyborganic sensors. Also it brings a whole new meaning to "ping me".
[Link via we-make-money-not-art]
The Mexican Government seems to be embracing cyborg technology. Similar to pet id chips, the Attorney General of Mexico has been chipped. A microchip was inserted under the skin of one of his arms to identify him when accessing the governments new crime database. Since the country hasn't always been the most stable politically, the chip also is designed to trace him if he is ever abducted. Unfortunately, if he is ever abducted, his arms will be probably be cut off.
As Born Again children of God through Jesus Christ we are NOT to Accept the Mark of the Beast, no Matter how Good they make it sound. Those who Do Not accept the Mark of the Beast Cannot buy or Sell, but if you Accept it you are Eternally Lost & Doomed to the Lake of Fire with Satan." [jesusandsue]
Well I don't think think I agree with sue's zealous rant, I do think this is a frightening trend as "about 160 Mexican officials will carry the microchip" and "the chip can't be removed, but will be deactivated after Macedo's term as attorney general expires.", if it's okay to chip government employees, why wouldn't it be okay to chip criminals or citizens? Hey, I'm all for electronic implants, but I'm just a bit wary of governments doing it.
Cheers Attorney General Rafael Macedo, I look forward to joining you in the lake of fire.
[Link via boingboing]
Kevin Warwick seemed like a pretty cool guy when I first picked up a wired issue with his face on the cover, but I quickly realised that this bloke is just a media whore and a bunch of hot air, and now he's trying to claim that he's the "World's first cyborg".
It's amazing that this guy ignores significant criticism for his tatics and lack of real development. Even Wired, after doing a feature story on Warwick, wrote a followup article entitled Kevin Warwick: Cyborg or Media Doll? exposing the stupidity of reporters who follow the "1st Cyborg".
[Warwick]'s been surprised by the criticism.
"None of them have said anything to me," he said. "I'm not going to get into some sideline, trivial argument. I've got research that I want to get on with and that's the important thing for me." [wired news]
Kevin, get a clue, and let the media interview the real cyborgs like Steve Mann.
[silly multi-light photo taken without permission from kevin's media whore website]
This photo shows Steve Mann wearing an EyeTap device and a screen displaying photos published by his EyeTap off his website. I think this rig could be a bit more aesthetic, but it certainly confronts people with the fact that they're being recorded. I found this photo while reading a paper written by Mann called "The Witnessential Net":
"...longtime bOING bOING editor Gareth Branwyn underwent total hip replacement to help relieve the pain of severe degenerative arthritis. A quintessential happy mutant, Gar wrote a smart, funny, and poignant deconstruction of his reconstruction, accompanied by "get well" illustrations by designer Jim Leftwich."
I just love the get-well illustrations, but Gar's description of his cyborganic event is quite lovely too:
"During the initial visit with my orthopedic surgeon, he brought in an implant for me to play with. It was a gorgeous, awe-inspiring piece of modern machinery - almost Zen-like in its shining simplicity and austere precision. The cementless implant technology my doctor's clinic uses was co-developed by them and has been implanted into thousands of patients. The description of the implant reads like something from a William Gibson novel. I now sport a Duroloc(r) 100 acetabular titanium cup with sintered titanium beads for in-bone growth adhesion. I have a bleeding-edge Marathon(r) polyethylene liner with irradiated cross-linked polymers for tighter bonding and longer wear rates. My Prodigy(r) brand stem has a 28mm cobalt-chrome head and a cobalt-chrome femoral component with sintered cobalt-chrome beading for bone in-growth fixation. Where 2001's HAL 9000 was fond of telling people that he was made at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois, I can now boast that part of me was manufactured by DePuy Industries of Warsaw, Indiana."
[Link via boingboing]
Well research similar to the robotic arm tests with chimps implies that cyborg arms are not that far off, nor are brain activated keyboards. North Carolina's Duke University Medical Center gives no finite word if the human brain is capible of carrying on more complex things like controlling a myrad of cyborg-tenticals, but the following quotes are positive. I'll keep hoping.
"Patients are awake during the surgery, and their brain signals are recorded to ensure that the electrodes are placed in the right location.
The study also showed that more parts of the brain could be used for neural interfaces than the researchers had previously tested with monkeys.
Unlike the monkey study, in which electrodes were implanted into the brain's cortical structures, the current study involved analyzing brain signals from electrodes inserted deep into subcortical structures.
"This shows that one can extract information not only from cortical areas, but from subcortical ones, too," says Nicolelis. "This suggests that in the future, there will be more options for sampling neuronal information to control a prosthetic device." " [betterhumans]
The future? I prefer this to the cyborg girlfriend scenario. In any case, my children are sure to find new and creative ways to offend me through body modification.
[Link via del.icio.us/tag/cyborg]
Funny article about being a Gargoyle, and a few reviews of equipment that can help you become one. Short, but sweet.
"Now all we need is a full-power portable wireless computer system with extremely long battery life that can interface with any number of I/O devices.
Yup. That's all we need."
I too cannot wait to hack my first brainstem.
I never thought I'd be envious of the students of Bovine University, but apparently cows are getting some sweet gear to wear. Ranchers may soon be able to herd cows without getting out of bed now, and be able to set up virtual fences for your cattle. Like virtual dog fences, these use electric shocks and sounds to herd, but unlike dog fences, these use gps devices to locate cows and determine if the cow is where they should be. They also use 802.11b to communicate wirelessly to update the virtual fence maps.
"[the researchers think their system would be] attractive to farmers in Australia who must move cattle across ranches that range up to 22,000 square kilometres - roughly the size of Massachusetts.
Currently farmers herd the cattle on horseback, motorcycles or even in helicopters, and have to open and close gates frequently, all requiring many workers and considerable time."
Okay so maybe the cows will have wearable computers before I do, but at least I won't be wearing a shock collar.
<anselm> soon i will steal ipaqs from cows
Nice article on Mann's opening keynote address at digifest:
Over one or both of his eyes, Mann wears a rotating fleet of mini-cameras and lasers that constantly mediate the world around him. Through the computing power attached to his body he can filter out obnoxious billboards, see people behind him, surf the Web and even change the colour of his surroundings.
[Link via Steve Mann's eyetap.org]
Steve Barr posted on the wear-hard mailing list about a Steve Mann AP article. It's a pretty good read, I recommend checking it out.