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Friday, June 16, 2017

Do You Want to Be a Cyborg?

Agata Sagan and Peter Singer
Project Syndicate
Originally posted May 17, 2017

Here is an excerpt:

In the United States, Europe, and most other countries with advanced biomedical research, strict regulations on the use of human subjects would make it extremely difficult to get permission to carry out experiments aimed at enhancing our cognitive abilities by linking our brains to computers. US regulations drove Phil Kennedy, a pioneer in the use of computers to enable paralyzed patients to communicate by thought alone, to have electrodes implanted in his own brain in order to make further scientific progress. Even then, he had to go to Belize, in Central America, to find a surgeon willing to perform the operation. In the United Kingdom, cyborg advocate Kevin Warwick and his wife had data arrays implanted in their arms to show that direct communication between the nervous systems of separate human beings is possible.

Musk has suggested that the regulations governing the use of human subjects in research could change. That may take some time. Meanwhile freewheeling enthusiasts are going ahead anyway. Tim Cannon doesn’t have the scientific or medical qualifications of Phil Kennedy or Kevin Warwick, but that hasn’t stopped him from co-founding a Pittsburgh company that implants bionic devices, often after he has first tried them out on himself. His attitude is, as he said at an event billed as “The world’s first cyborg-fair,” held in Düsseldorf in 2015, “Let’s just do it and really go for it.”

People at the Düsseldorf cyborg-fair had magnets, radio frequency identification chips, and other devices implanted in their fingers or arms. The surgery is often carried out by tattooists and sometimes veterinarians, because qualified physicians and surgeons are reluctant to operate on healthy people.

The article is here.
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