The change is inevitable. In fact, it is happening as we speak. Across the globe, medical procedures are underway to give disabled people the ability to walk, be it through prosthetics or biomedical advances. We have the ability of giving fallen soldiers another chance, giving them their legs back. We have the capability of giving a person a fully functional hand. We are even close to the first attempts at a ‘head transplant’, which although arguably unethical, if it succeeds, will be one of the greatest biological feats of this millennium. The possibilities this can yield are infinite; the ability to ‘swap bodies’ could be the next step towards immortality, or the step towards ending paralysis.
As ‘wearable technology’ becomes more prominent in the mainstream usage of civilians, scientists ask the question “can we put this in us”. Sure, it’s a scary concept, but it is one that could change us for the better. Perhaps stronger arms and legs could mean less dependence on machinery, reducing our carbon footprint, or advanced hand replacements bring much steadier accuracy. Perhaps we could reach a point where our eyes change, and instead hold capabilities of enhancing an image, being able to see in the dark, or withstand UV rays like never before. Perhaps a metallic, enhanced spinal column will allow us greater movement; unparalleled speed, unparalleled strength and unparalleled stability. Maybe this ‘dehumanises’ us physiologically, but not mentally. We will still be ‘us’, still have our conscious inside the metal can. It won’t be some procedure to control us and restrict us, but to set us free.
This may sound all too science fiction to listen to, but there is no arguing that this is where we are heading. Where prosthetics once acted as a ‘rest’, with no mobility at all, are now controlled my minute muscle movements and nerve reflexes. Where one could only remain blinded, now has the chance of being able to see again. We even see it in hearing aids; once a person would have to remain deaf, but now they can hear (and in many cases, hear with much more clarity and range than an unaffected person). Technology is not dehumanising us, it is giving us humanity back. It is giving us the basic human controls many have lost; it is making us capable of previously unimaginable things. Like the ‘space race’ of 1969, the technology race is exciting and innovative. It could either be the “foot in the doorstep” of our next step in humanity, or it could be our downfall. This is a frightening concept, but one we have faced many times; The Large hadron Collider made many fear the end of the world, as quoted by Stephen Hawking, space flight made many fear the safety of humanity, and even corporations providing to global warming make many fear for our future at the hands of Mother Nature. All these are things humans could/can prevent, but don’t…all in the name of innovation and advances…and they have achieved their goals.
Wherein I understand the fears many have, such as the fear of “the keys falling into the wrong hands” and being used against us, this is unlikely. We are not a clumsy nation, and we are not a stupid race. We will have implements to prevent such an event happening. There are also cries of unethical conduct – dehumanising us and turning us into machinery as opposed to humans – but this too is not true, if we don’t allow it to. I am pro-choice in almost every aspect of life, including future events. It should be your choice if you want to live a better, more fulfilling life with the only expense of a bit of flesh in return for shiny metal.
Bring on the future, I say. For I am excited and intrigued about the future of biomedical science, and all the good it can bring upon us. It has started its baby crawls already, but we are yet to see its leaps and bounds. My generation and my generation’s children will be the first to become subjected to this, so I eagerly await with high anticipation and embrace the future of humanity. After all, the first ‘immortal person’ has already been born!
-Benjamin John Wareing