Each Tuesday Nikolas Badminton, Futurist, summarizes 3 to 5 future looking developments in the realm of transhuman and cyborg-related technologies.
In Transhuman Tuesday – Earthquakes and Religious Dilemmas we look at the discussion around cyborgs and Christianity, ‘Trolley Man’, analysing sweat, and detecting earthquakes.
When Cyborgs and Christians Compromise
In August, a paraplegic man was brought onto the stage at the Human x Design Conference in New York City, a gathering of the world’s leaders in transhumanist thought. The man could not walk, but he wore a curious exoskeleton, thin and delicate. With a mechanical whirr, the man stood up and strode defiantly across the stage.
“Everyone’s breath was taken away,” E. Christian Brugger, a professor of philosophy and ethics at Denver’s St. John Vianney Theological Seminary who attended the conference, told Inverse. Brugger was at the meeting representing a conservative school of thought — one that would seem to be at odds with the transhumanist project, premised as it is on the idea of re-invention. Brugger is well aware that religion has not historically met technological and scientific adjustments to the definition of humanity with open arms, but says that a walking paraplegic illustrates how the conversation around transhumanism could potentially end in mutual understanding.
Read more at Inverse
The Trolley Problem and the Making of a Superhero for Transhuman Times
The discourse of transhumanism is notorious for its liberal appeal to ‘enhancement’: ‘physical enhancement’, ‘cognitive enhancement’, ‘moral enhancement’, etc. Much if not most of the discussion is speculative – but in any case, it is aspirational.
‘Enhancement’ is presented as something that can improve our lives and quite possibly solve the deepest problems of mind, body and society. Prior to transhumanism, perhaps the only moral philosophy that unequivocally stood behind the proposition that by knowing more we can lead better lives is utilitarianism. In what follows, I consider what ‘cognitive enhancement’ might deliver vis-à-vis ‘moral progress’ once we bring together a thought experiment associated with contemporary utilitarianism and one of the most important decisions to shape the course of human history. We shall see that science fiction has an important role to play in fuelling this ultimate test of whether moral progress is possible. The protagonist of this tale gradually comes into view, a flawed superhero, Trolley Man.
Read more at IEET
Transhumanism? Skin patch can analyze sweat and connect with a smartphone
More than halfway in this decade, we saw how advancements in science and technology improve the lives of billions of people.
We now use smartphones to communicate faster and better. And explore the Solar System by sending robots into space.
In healthcare, humanity can now take advantage of better equipments like scanners that can identify cancer cells, and so on. As technology and science move forward, it is safe to say that we’ll see health devices that can occupy parts of our meat bags. Like this one, from a group of scientists at the Northwestern University: a skin patch designed to measure the wearer’s sweat to show how his or her body is responding to activities, like exercise.
It is a little larger than a quarter and about the same thickness.
The research team said the skin-like microfluidic system can analyze key biomarkers of the human skin, helping the wearer decide quickly if any adjustments, such as drinking more glasses of water, or replenish electrolytes, need to be made, or if something is medically awry.
Read more at stgist
The World’s First Cyborg Artist Can Detect Earthquakes With Her Arm
Ribas became a cyborg primarily to take contemporary dance to the next level, likeWaiting for Earthquakes, a stage performance where she literally waits until she gets a vibration in her arm then allows it to lead her dance movements. Since her chip can sense earthquakes that are as little as one on the Richter scale, which people cannot feel (they’re called ‘microquakes’ and they are often around volcanoes before they erupt). She typically has an earthquake vibration in her arm every 10 minutes, as there are roughly 50 earthquakes a day. But if not, her dance performance has her standing still on a stage, similar to waiting in a waiting room.
After three years of having her arm sensor, Ribas now wants to add a location sensor on her left arm that enables her to sense how close an earthquake is to her, which intensifies the closer the earthquake is to her. She will also get two vibrating chips implanted in the bottom of her feet. “After awhile I realized it would make more sense to feel earthquakes through my feet because they actually touch the earth,” she said on the phone from Barcelona. “The prototype has already been made, I can wear it permanently.”
Maybe getting a cyborg chip is like getting a tattoo: Once you start, you can’t stop? But it isn’t about becoming more superhuman or machine-like. “I have an interest in sci-fi, but nature is already amazing—some animals can see ultraviolet and infra-red, while some jellyfish never die. If we apply these things to our reality, our understanding of the planet will also change.”
Read more at Motherboard
Nikolas Badminton is a world-respected futurist speaker that researches, speaks, and writes about the future of work, how technology is affecting the workplace, how workers are adapting, the sharing economy, and how the world is evolving. He appears at conferences in Canada, USA, UK, and Europe. Email him to book him for your radio, TV show, or conference.