BBC Radio 4: Meet the CyborgsSpeculative Design
Frank Swain talks about his life using advanced hearing aids and people who have begun to integrate medical and non-medical technological enhancements into their bodies.
The full show can be listened to on the BBC website.
The show presents an optimistic view of the practice of body modification, concluding that there is a significant potential of the practice being recognised as acceptable, even necessary. Swain interviews several ‘cyborgs’ – people who have undergone permanent body modifications – as well as a number of experts in the fields of transhumanism, biotechnology and ethics.
The difference in motivation between these cyborgs is a highlight. While some have been driven to modification by necessity or in order to correct for a disability, others see this as a an ideological imperative, a part of their natural progression as a species or chance to learn about possible futures. Others yet see creation of additional senses as a purely artistic endeavour. Speaking of additional senses, the North Sense turns you into a human compass.
An interesting concern raised is the idea of safety and the potential for the cyborg to open themselves up for invasion of their own body by hackers. Many of these technologies were created by reverse-engineering existing tools and changing the way they work in order to suit the needs of the cyborg-to be. Swain makes a point of raising the concern that the very same thing can be done by a criminal. The show’s guests, while acknowledging the issue, also tend to dismiss any danger due to the isolated, non-connective nature of most current modifications.