Will the future be full of humans who merge with machines to become cyborgs? Ha. It's already happened. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the hottest new game from Square Enix and it gives us a harsh view of 2027, a year where huge corporations get humanity addicted to cybernetic implants. If that sounds too far fetched to ever come true, I have something to show you. Rob Spence, a present day cyborg and filmmaker known as the Eyeborg, worked with Square Enix to create a kickass documentary about the current reality of cybernetics. The level of human modification already out there may amaze you. Check out Spence as he seeks the truth behind the fiction in the video below. Cameras wired into your brain, robotic knees, prosthetic hands that sense when you want them to move - the world of Deus Ex seems closer everyday.
I urge you to watch the entire 12 minutes of Deus Ex: The Eyeborg Documentary, it's visually stunning, with gorgeous footage of some of the most exciting projects in cybernetics out there. It's also told very well. Enjoy:
Rob Spence really is the perfect filmmaker for this project. Not only does his tragic accident with a shotgun mean he understand perspective of the amputees he interviews, he's one of the most enthusiastic cyborgs out there. For the past few years he and the rest of the Eyeborg Project team have created the camera implant he wears and worked tirelessly to get their own documentary made about that implant. Through his filmmaking Spence is advocate, subject, and commentator on cybernetics - how could Square Enix choose anyone else?
In fact, Spence may be the best proof that the premises behind Deus Ex may come true. Not the bleak corporate take-over or the fierce battles between cyborgs in city streets. Spence shows how the determination to repair our bodies could very well lead to a desire to enhance them. How many filmmakers like Spence and how many ingenious amputees struggling to regain their capabilities using machines will it take to push humanity towards augmentation. We may already have plenty as it is. If we can't say no to these determined individuals as they become cyborgs, will we be able to say no to our children when they want to see farther, run longer, and be stronger with the help of implants? I think not.
Of course, as the documentary points out, cybernetics are not the only path towards repairing damaged bodies. Stem cell and other forms of regenerative medicine research have made great strides in using biology to heal biology. If a cellular solution to amputation came on the market you can bet humanity would turn away from cybernetics in favor of a more complete repair.
...but once we started using biotechnology to do something as drastic as replacing a lost limb what's to stop us from asking for augmentation from the same tech?
One way or another, I think that seeking a 'cure' to amputation, blindness, etc will lead to at least the possibility of human augmentation. Once any repair is as good as the original, there's little doubt that people will start to push it a little farther. Smart, ambitious, and insightful people like Spence and his documentary subjects. We should enjoy Deus Ex: Human Revolution for what it is: a beautiful video game set in an exciting fictional universe. But we should also prepare ourselves for the very real consequences that are coming from our current pursuit of cybernetics. The step from healing to enhancing is smaller than we think. Transhumanism is coming, and 2027 is closer than we think.
Oh, and if you're a female leg amputee near Toronto and you want to work with Spence on an absurd and awesome project, check out his website for more details.