Posts Tagged ‘six million dollar man’

Augmented Humanity

Friday, November 13th, 2009

All this week over at Gizmodo they’ve put their focus on enhancements to the human body in a series of posts under the heading This Cyborg Life.

I’ve written here before about some of these possible futures we are rapidly entering and how we have, through our technology, achieved a greater role in our own evolution. Our tech, our media and our culture are all extensions of ourselves. One of the guest writers at Gizmodo is Aimee Mullins, who’s also been featured in this blog, and her thoughts are both provocative and inspiring. If you don’t read anything else today you must> read her post How Abled Should We Be?

Today they posted a video about a man named Tony Quan, a grafitti artist who is paralyzed from Lou Gehrig’s disease and only able to move his eyes. As you’ll see in the video he is now able to continue his public works – from his hospital bed – using a low-cost open source DIY system called EyeWriter, which uses off the shelf gear to create a head mounted device that tracks his eyes allowing him to paint (via projectors) massive scale tags.

We’ll see more of this personalized innovation come to the fore as people in their maker workshops and garage labs create extensions of themselves in tech and media and share it with the rest of the world. What may at first have been seen as singular project for an individual will quickly and easily be shared and embraced by the rest of the world – often with people finding further unanticipated uses and applications that further drives the initial innovation forward – carrying all of us along with it.

I’ve been sharing emails with my friend Bryan during this past few busy weeks about a number of topics of common interest and human enhancement has been one of them. The pattern of rapidly emerging linkages between ourselves and our machines (with our limbs, our eyes, our minds, and the rapid expansion of not just our technical ability to achieve these things but also our developing cultural acceptance of it all) is impossible to ignore. Integrating technology and the human species is not the fearful Borgian dystopia of popular SF narrative – it’s our future. Yes, there are caveats and concerns to be heeded but the emerging generations of users will be integrating their democratized home brew inventions directly with their bodies, becoming one with the tech that used to be a mere extension of self.

Check out the Gizmodo posts and ponder how you would alter or upgrade your present existence.

Welcome to the future.


Supergroups Of The Future

Monday, March 30th, 2009

I found this over on BoingBoing and I know it’s just an ad for BBC Radio but it caught it my eye for a number of reasons.

Wouldn’t it just be so fucking cool if we had a time machine and could pull a Bill & Ted by bringing together collections of the best talents (in any field, not just music) to create collaborations we could only dream of in our lesser techno-magically enabled reality. Who doesn’t want to trip back to New York before December 1980 and get John to go with Paul for a surprise visit to SNL?

Alas, we don’t have time travel – we just have really fucking cool computer tech. To paraphrase the Six Million Dollar Man intro “We have the technology, let’s abuse it.” We might not be able to draw together these performers in the flesh but we can certainly render digital compilations which can, at the very least, give us a glimpse of what might have been. Harking back to the Beatles once more, they did something similar in 1995 by working together again on Free As A Bird, blending the voices of the still extant Fab with the departed John, courtesy of the ministrations of Jeff Lynne.

I recall in the late ’70′s a bootleg tape came out that had Elvis Presley and Linda Rondstadt singing a duet of Love Me Tender. It sounded great. It was wonderous. It was magical. The problem was, if I recall correctly, it was made from the masters of their original recordings without permission for public release – as a demonstration of what the new emerging recording technologies could do with control over pitch and timing of audio recordings. I heard on Q107 here in Toronto over a period of 2 days before it was yanked.

Since then such things have become old hat. We’ve had Natalie Cole sing duets with her father Nat King Cole; Bono, Robbie Williams and a host of others singing along with Frank Sinatra; and a whole lot more.

As I said, it’s not just limited to music. Famous actors, long dead and gone, are still turning in performances on the screen. Oliver Reed and Brandon Lee each finished their film work after dying during production. Laurence Olivier turned up as the villain Professor Totenkopf in Sky Captain. Humphrey Bogart and Alfred Hitchcock showed up for Robert Zemekis in an episode of Tales From The Crypt.

This sort of shit goes on all the time now.

It’s a far cry from the flurry of excitement elicited over the 1969 release of The Masked Marauders. Yeah – it wasn’t really them – but I still love that album and I play it on my iPod, thank you very fucking much. And it was a great idea.

I was struck many years ago when watching the AFI honours for Henry Fonda when they showed the obligatory montage at the height of the evening, running through clips from all his onscreen performances – and you saw a young man grow up in front of your eyes. Fuck off, Benjamin Button, this was the real deal. A life in time captured in images.

The memory of human beings is a changed thing as a result of recording technologies. We have become very different creatures from what we once were.

As our tech evolves with us – and becomes increasingly a part of us – we will change even further. We may never achieve the immortality sought within the shrouded mysteries of Kurzweil’s Singularity – but our perception of time and life and death itself will be forever altered as we continue to step back in time or draw the past into our present as if the formerly impenetrable veil of time was forever rent and we were physically capable of stepping with ease from thence to hence.

It’s not time travel – but it’s pretty fucking close – and you just know the music will rock.