Will Cyborgs Replace the Disabled?-Video

Written by David Michaelis

Cyborgs are promoted in some quarters as the future ultimate empowerment of disabled. See the pioneering research and blow-back here.

oscar pistorius cyborgs

Image Credit: By Oscar Pistorius.jpg: Elvar Pálssonderivative work: Coda.coza (Oscar Pistorius.jpg) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

aNewDomain.net — Cyborgs are promoted in some quarters as the ultimate future empowerment of the disabled. It is predicted that there will be separate Olympics for abled and cyborg sports. The case of Oscar Pistorius gives us the first glimpse of this distinction — was he tried as a disabled man, or a superhuman cyborg? When you feel empowered, what happens to your psyche? Is it possible that Pistorius was the first cyborg to be put on trial for murder?
update-5 years for Blade-runner.
The fact that Pistorius will probably serve only 10 months in jail for gunning down Miss Steenkamp feels like an insult to her memory.
Still, Judge Masipa’s analysis of the defence mounted around Pistorius went to the very core of the athlete’s persona.
Because until he killed Steenkamp, in February, 2013, his image, like that of many paralympians, was built on his invulnerability. More accurately, perhaps, it was built on his ability to overcome.It was constructed around his ­fortitude in sweeping away the physical obstacles that had been placed in his path.His judge decided that he is not really a strong cyborg…

Cyborg Future

First we need to examine the trans human technologies that seek to eradicate disability — primarily prostheses and implants. We all agree that disability denies individuals the same quality of life as those deemed “able.” Shame is often used to describe some of the feelings of being disabled. Daily coping with disability is harder than many “abled” people can really comprehend.

Steve Mann is a living laboratory for the cyborg lifestyle. He is a proud professor in a Canadian university. He fights for cyborg rights, which is a new legal field full of ethical challenges. He recently joined Meta, a startup that is competing with Google Glass and developing prosthetic eyewear.

Steve Mann Glass eye

MannGlassEye1999” by GloggerOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

As Mann’s inventions are tested, and are more firmly planted in the consumer market, debate has already broken out. The Post-Humanists are gearing up. The here and now contingent stand at opposite ends from the super-abled.

The Debate

Dr. Jim Taylor writes in Huffington Post:

But, thanks to incredible developments in the neurosciences and prosthetic technology, what used to mean “not able” has morphed, in many cases, into being “super-able.” The old reaction of seeing disabled people participate in sports included “Good for them!” and “They’re not letting a little thing like a missing limb squash their dreams.”

But Tony Philips, a disabled man, writes in the comments of Taylor’s article:

When we arrive at a place where we recognize first that mobility is an absolute medical necessity, not a luxury, and when that recognition makes us provide access to basic prosthetics for all in need, then I think we can look forward, secondly, to how an elite few rebuilt super-humans may exceed our fundamental notions of what’s humanly possible.”

This debate is only the beginning of bio-political-ethical conversation. Steve Mann predicts that wearable is the most relevant platform for future computing. But are we able to digest and formulate the ethical and legal issues that this empowerment brings with it?

Will we the “abled” become jealous, and want to emulate the achievements of the Super-Enabled? A new book by Professor Michael Hauskeller warns about wanting it all. Andy Mia says of the book:

Hauskeller’s analysis hinges on the balance of probabilities, and he comes down firmly on the side of the doubters. Being grateful for our biological gifts, rather than continually seeking to improve on them, he argues, is more likely to ensure a richer life. Furthermore, he says that if we are able to change everything about ourselves, we may lose some sense of the value of those gifts.”

Is this argument relevant to disabled people? How closely with the future of cyborgs mesh with that of the disabled? Only time will tell.see demo of mind control video.A Swedish amputee has become the first person in the world to be fitted with a prosthetic that directly interfaces with his bone, muscle and nerves, and can be controlled with his mind, making him what could be considered a true cyborg.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3uE4bRSkMc&w=560&h=315]

For aNewDomain.net, I’m David Michaelis.

Based in Australia, David Michaelis is a world-renowned international journalist and founder of Link Tv. At aNewDomain.net, he covers the global beat, focusing on politics and other international topics of note for our readers in a variety of forums. Email him at DavidMc@aNewDomain.net.