I often write about the creepy implications of biotech. Cybernetic advances seem to come faster every day. If you followed as many futurist blogs as I do, you would be writing from a bunker five miles underground.
Are you excited for the day when your smartphone is inside in your brain? When your own hand will be a toolbox instead of that cluttered thing in your garage?
Me either. But I can’t deny my own selfish desires for some of the tech miracles coming down the pipe.
Here are the five cybernetic implants I want right now. As in this instant. As in get to work, science.
1) SELECTIVE HEARING
I would mortgage my own soul for an aural implant that allows selective hearing. I have misophonia (I only recently learned the official term). With this condition, certain noises (often the sound of people chewing) cause irritation and thoughts of murder.
It’s like nails on a chalkboard, except the nails are potato chips and the chalkboard is someone’s teeth.
Misophonia isn’t an official disorder. It doesn’t ruin my life like some others claim. But it’s real. I sometimes have to leave rooms. Going to the movies is always a risk; if someone sits next to me with a two-hour supply of popcorn, I’m in trouble.
So get to work, scientists! Bring on my cybernetic eardrums! Let me filter out all the bad and let in all the good. I will stare right into that gaping maw of baby carrots and hear nothing but the ocean waves.
Ok, so “dancing” isn’t an implant. It’s a skill. I would need some kind of learning implant, or maybe a neural link that allows muscle-memory upload. Neural links are scary, and they will make us susceptible to a lot of dangers (like hacking).
But I need this. Weddings are really tough, you guys.
I have lived on Earth for many an undisclosed number of years without the capacity for dance. It’s a problem.
But dancing isn’t that hard, you say. I agree! For most of you, it’s not a big deal. Dancing is like eating and breathing and running.
Some of us are born without this blessed skill. Yes, we can walk out onto a dance floor and twitch parts of our bodies. But no one would label my efforts “dancing.”
If you could only see the gears smashing together inside my head when I try to dance, you would understand. Equations fill my mind, desperately calculating speed and trajectory of body parts.
I obsess over the movement of every body part, every second. Feet, ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, hands, neck, head.
Right foot out. Now left foot? Move shoulders. Bend knees. No, don’t bend knees. Keep your hands down. Or put them up? Oh god, my elbows… what are they doing? WHAT ARE MY ELBOWS DOING???
An alternative to the neural link would be to muscle-mod my frame with filament twitch wire. I could activate a dance program to move my limbs for me. This inevitably leads to the program getting hacked and someone gaining total control of my body.
But you know what? It’s STILL preferable to dancing as a natural human being.
It’s a good thing women aren’t attracted to men who can dance. Otherwise, I’d be in trouble.
3) IMPROVED MEMORY
This one is a no-brainer (sorry). Who doesn’t want better memory? Now that my phone addiction has obliterated normal brain function, I need cybernetic assistance.
Things I would most like to remember:
- what I came in this room for
- where I left my phone
- what is the name of that movie/actor
- who are you and why are you talking to me
4) TEMPERATURE DESENSITIZATION
This one is very of-the-moment: it just got hot in Atlanta. We had an abnormally long spring. It was magical. But Hotlanta is back.
I am not built for this. My natural habitat is the cold rain on a Scottish moor. At night. In December.
There are a couple of cybernetic options. One: tweaking sensory capacity so that I don’t experience heat or cold in the same way. But this is dangerous; if you never feel hot, then you never know if you are in trouble.
Option two: Make me not care that I am hot. I would be able to sense the danger of it, but the mental discomfort is gone. But like the dancing, this requires alterations to the cerebrum. Also dangerous.
So which do I choose?
Hey, I’m not a scientist. I’m leaving it to you people with the good brains. Figure it out for me, and I will give you monies (but please make it affordable).
5) FAST MUSCLE REPAIR
I rolled my ankle a month ago. I iced it. Rehabbed it. Kept it mobile. I sacrificed humans on golden alters. But it still hurts.
Help me, dystopian future!
I can imagine the product sitting on the shelf at CVS: Nanite Muscle Repair Starter Kit, $599.99. Included in the box: Syringe, serum with nanites, cotton swab, band-aid, and activation code for the smartphone app.
You install the app and type in your symptoms. Inject the nanites as close to the point of pain as possible. They go to work scrubbing scar tissue, rebuilding fibers, and stimulating atrophied muscle.
One hour later, you’re done! Ankle repaired. Get back out there and live!
But here’s the kicker: I want the little machines to die when the job is done. I’m not ready for a permanent army of nanites living in my bloodstream. Can I trust the guarantee on the box? “Nanites will not alter cellular structure of customer.”
Sounds ethical. Right?
BONUS OPTION: EYESIGHT?
You might wonder why I didn’t choose perfect eyesight. I have previously lamented my poor vision and its implications for the apocalypse. But we have fixes for that already. Lasik, PRK, and some other acronyms I chose not to learn.
Artificial eyes are scary. Even scarier to me than neural links, in a way. Artificial eyes won’t just be the window to the soul, they will be the window to everything. See whatever you want to see, and see whatever they want you to see.
Still, I wouldn’t mind having that glowy pupil reflection a replicant gets in the dim light. How cool would that be?
So there you have it! I’m no more excited for our dystopian/wonderful/horrifying future than you, but it’s a fun canvas for my selfish wants. It’s also potentially beneficial; advances in cybernetics will help many people with real disabilities. That could be wonderful.
At least in the short term, before things spiral out of control.
In the long term?
Depends. Will we still be doing the electric slide at weddings?