I’ve met a lot of sparkling smart people in my life. None of them were normal. But after listening to Neil Harbisson, for the third time, I’m convinced that I need some new definitions of “normal”. Quickly. Here is a young man that was born with an extreme form of colour blindness that limits his perception of reality to grayscale. But rather than adapt to delicious scales of gray, Harbisson became the first person in the world with an antenna implanted in his skull. He is the first government recognized cyborg. Eyeborg, as his antenna is sweetly named, uses audible vibrations in his skull to report information to him. He hears colors, including infrared and ultraviolet, detects measurements of electromagnetic radiation, and can accept phone calls. His Wi-Fi enabled antenna also allows him to receive signals and data from satellites, heck, you can directly send images to his brain via the internet.
„ As a cyborg, I’m feeling closer to nature than to machines. I share a body part with insects, with all animals that sense infrared. I can see what is making your cat crazy”, Neil Harbisson said. His (illegally implanted) antenna bends from the back of his head forwards, and translates the dominant color in front of him into a specific sound, enabling him to identify it. His absolute hearing and musical training help him to tune into the sound of colors. There is no black and white for him: “People who are white are actually very, very light orange and people who are black are very, very dark orange.”
He heads up the Cyborg Foundation, and is pushing for legal guidelines. His girlfriend Moon, is a Cyborg too. She has an embedded a seismic detector that helps her with dancing, and sensors in her fingertips that tell her were the planets are. Apparently, these extra senses add all kinds of pleasure in their silken sheets.
I am sure there is value in enhancing humans. But I’m not sure that Neil and Moon are it….