Cyborg Artists and The Future

Cyborg Artists and The Future

Kenny Rosen

Should robots have rights? How does artificial intelligence relate to concepts of morality? 

These are valid questions and should be answered in the next few years as technology evolves. But much more relevantly, the cyborgs are already here, how afraid should we be?

Neil Harbisson is an artist that was diagnosed with a rare condition that only allowed him to see in black and white but he didn’t let this hold him back. Harbisson has an antenna in his skull that allows him to perceive colors through sound which made him the first legal cyborg in the world.

While Harbisson is the first legal cyborg, he is far from the last; there are many other cyborgs with artificial body parts to both supplement and enhance their natural abilities.

Harbisson now fights for cyborg rights and equality, which isn’t something out of a science fiction movie–it’s all too real. Harbisson, along with fellow cyborg artist Moon Ribas, worked to found the Cyborg Foundation with the goal of helping humans become cyborgs. On a personal level, Harbisson has fought for his own rights as he often has to convince people that his enhancements are parts of his body rather than just a piece of technology.

While views on cyborgs are definitely under debate within the general public, some individual interviews with the Baruch community on the subject shed new light on issues of cyborgs in a moral sense.

Benny Wu, a student at Baruch High School said in response to learning about Harbisson’s incredible story, “That is amazing compared to our current technology, I am very surprised by this.”

Wu’s reaction is an expected one when learning about technology that most of us thought as fiction or a high-tech invention from the far future; however, Baruch High School’s Spanish teacher, Profe. Garcia, had some new insights into the nature of cyborgs as people.

Garcia said, in response to Harbisson’s pleas for cyborg rights, “I think it’s perfectly fine if other people want to [have cybernetic enhancements] since it is their own choice [and] the public should know more about these different cybernetic parts since if it were broken because [one] thought it was something else then rights would come along with information.”

Rights for a new group of people such as cyborgs revolve primarily on public awareness to reach acceptance. The first step in gaining respect for cyborgs is simply getting the word out there that cyborgs are no longer a fictional concept and are real people that deserve our understanding and respect.