Week 4: Solid State Brain

This week’s reading, so far, has been the most disturbing to me, but also very real. The notion of somehow discarding our physical bodies because of the “inconvenience” of our biological needs is both fascinating and terrifying. As Margaret Morse discusses, in her article What do Cyborgs Eat?, some humans thrive on the stimulation of the cyber realm to experience, communicate, or travel. This hit home for me as I enjoy the many ways computers allow me to create and experience. New programs and apps are very fascinating and present so many options to create, in my case, music.

As I got further into the reading I started to become uneasy of the works of some of the artists and the curiosities of body modification and transcendence. We are closer to becoming “cyborgs” all of the time as we develop prosthesis and organ replacements to prolong human life due to trauma and disease. Other areas such as stem-cell research and genetic engineering also play important roles our human evolution to the artificial.

It seems that body modification is the most accessible to us by way of the medical break-throughs that happen all of the time but it can get very controversial. As I mentioned previously about our bodies being “inconvenient” for people who thrive  through cyber and other computer environments, some of us might be into the idea of changing so that we wouldn’t be held back by hunger or illness. However, what about those whose lifestyles are drastically different? What about the humans who thrive through exercise and the making their bodies as conditioned as possible or who tend to every need their body presents them? There is a huge divide in who would want to progress to the less biological and who would oppose it.

I believe that the more difficult but less controversial is linking computers and the brain. For example, being able to think and command your computer without the standard interfacing through touch or being able to think conversions and not needing to type or speak would be widely more accepted in my opinion. I also think the integration of our own brains and computers would be best utilized for knowledge. What if we could download information to our own brains? There would of course be controversy but less so than extreme body modifications. The following are movie clips from The Matrix and Johnny Mnemonic where actor Keanu Reeves has information downloaded to his brain:

Now what if we could not only download to our brains, but upload from them as well? How amazing would this be for composition? What if we cold take the medium of trying to make our visions into reality away? What if the melodies I heard in my head wouldn’t be lost or crudely realized in the transition from imagination to reality? What if a the picture in a painters head could be immediately projected on a screen? This would be huge for artists of every type. The controversy might be in that the mastery by which an artist makes their imaginative visions come to life would be bypassed completely and anyone with any imagination could create brilliant works simply by thinking them into existence.

– Chad Goss

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