Monday, April 25, 2005

CybDem: Journal of Evolution and Technology 14(1) April 2005

CybDem: Journal of Evolution and Technology 14(1) April 2005: "Journal of Evolution and Technology 14(1) April 2005
"In this issue:
Nick Bostrom 'A History of Transhumanist Thought'
Robert Pepperell 'Posthumans and Extended Experience'
K. Mark Smith 'Saving Humanity?: Counter-arguing Posthuman Enhancement'
Robert A. Freitas Jr. 'Microbivores: Artificial Mechanical Phagocytes using Digest and Discharge Protocol'
John Schloendorn 'Negative Data from the Psychological Frontline'
Frank Forman 'Transhumanism's Vital Center: Review of James Hughes' Citizen Cyborg' "

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Kevin Guilfoile writes a creepy new thriller inspired by Frankenstein & cloning

The New York Times > Books > Books of The Times | 'Cast of Shadows': The Frankenstein Model, but Updated With Cloning
Surprise! cloning is creepy; plots moralize about technology in terms of "good" versus "evil"; Frankenstein, the union of medical technology and human invention, is programmed for evil:
"The inspiration for that plot comes from the mother of all horror stories: Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein." In that novel a student named Frankenstein brings to life a monster made from body parts stolen from graveyards and dissecting rooms. After being rejected as a freak by the rest of society, the monster goes on a bloody rampage, wreaking revenge on his creator, who had dared usurp God's role as creator.

"The Frankenstein role in 'Cast of Shadows' is taken by a workaholic doctor named Davis Moore, who specializes in cloning. The novel takes place in the not so distant future when human cloning has become a feasible if controversial method of reproduction; like abortion today, cloning draws the ire of certain religious groups, including a handful of vigilantes intent on using violence to publicize their protest. Chief among these vigilantes, we're told, is a man known as Mickey the Gerund, who has killed a growing list of fertility doctors and who has made an unsuccessful effort to assassinate Davis."

Iron Maiden: Cyborg Eddie collectible

Iron Maiden

Now this is a cyborg. I wonder why it doesn't have any skin? A: Just pure gruesomeness, in the way that the union of human and machine must be presented in a world where every individual simultaneous loves and loathes technology.


Cyborgs at ISM Gala at NYU

Washington Square News:
Well, I guess it had to come: cyborgs are just another -ism along with capitalism, feminism, marxism, individualism, etc. etc.:
"Xiao Li Tan, a Tisch senior, is passionate about her project, sentimental cyborg-ism.

'My --ism is a rebellion to the cyborg aesthetics which I see as cold, metallic and mechanical,' Tan said. 'I wanted to challenge the audience and make cyborg-ism more sentimental, organic and emotional.'

Tan created what she describes as interactive wearable products, including a pair of shell necklaces implanted with radio transmitters and receivers. When the necklaces are within 10-feet of each other, the shells glow."

A sort of pointless article about Cyborg Mann on

AlterNet: MediaCulture: Free the Cameras:
The conclusion:

"Finally, I got up the nerve to ask him something very personal about life as a cyborg. It turns out that surveillance cameras, eager to peek into every aspect of your private lives, are cagey about revealing what happens in their own. I should have known."

"Cyborg Green" is now a colour

High-end gaming PCs gun for mainstream - Computer Hardware - Technology, Hardware and Equipment - General:
I'd love to see what cyborg green actually looks like.
"The PCs used by Cerny, 27, and other gamers aren't built for word processing or sending e-mail. They're also not the kind consumers can easily spot browsing through a Sunday newspaper supplement or a big-box electronics store.
These systems often come in odd colors such as 'cyborg green' and 'conspiracy blue,' and with high price tags: A custom-built model can cost $5,000."

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Iraq War to Engender Cyberveterans

Thanks to Jim, aka garyglitterpants, for this link. According to the article, there's a demand for robotic prosthesis for US soldiers injured in the Iraq War.
"Mating robotics with the nervous system creates a new generation of artificial limbs that work like the real thing. By Corie Lok.

"Conventional leg prostheses frequently leave their users, especially above-the-knee amputees, stumbling and falling or walking with abnormal gaits. Hugh Herr, a professor at MIT’s Media Laboratory, is building more-reliable prostheses that users can control more precisely. Some of the latest prosthetic knees on the market already have microprocessors built into them that can be programmed to help the limbs move more naturally. But Herr has taken this idea one step further. He has developed a knee with built-in sensors that can measure how far the knee is bent, as well as the amount of force the user applies to it while walking. This artificial knee--recently commercialized by the Icelandic company Össur--also contains a computer chip that analyzes the sensor data to create a model of the user’s gait, and adapt the movement and resistance of the knee accordingly."

Friday, April 15, 2005

Review of Citizen Cyborg by Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing

Boing Boing: Humanist transhumanism: Citizen Cyborg
"'Citizen Cyborg' takes the social democratic approach not just to cognitive liberty, but to the parcel of questions that follow on from it as technology allows us to charge our minds and bodies. When we can choose our children's' sex, modify our genomes to eliminate some forms of mental and physical disability, when we can modify our bodies and minds to improve them beyond the normal human baseline , when we can even use technology to make dolphins and great apes as smart as precocious children, what then?

"Surely the ability to determine your own genome, the ability to choose to modify your physical self and to make the choices for your children are as fundamental civil liberties as the right to speak and assemble and otherwise author your own destiny."

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Canada's favourite eccentric cyborg, Steve Mann, in Wired News

Wired News: Surveillance Works Both Ways
I need to find more serious debate about surveillance. Such performances as Mann's are more than merely interesting and quirky. They're thought provoking and sometimes disturbing. They're obviously meant to be so. What are they proving? That we're mostly relatively comfortable with surveillance, as long as the camera isn't big? What is the value of making minimum-wage-earning clerks, managers, and store patrons uncomfortable? Then again, how else does one critique surveillance in any noticeable format? Surveillance in the dark Kafka-esque sense of a cold and punitive government bureaucracy monitoring citizens' actions certainly is worth critiquing. But is the potential for monitoring property necessarily evil? (see, for example, the BoingBoing post Hit-and-run garage creep caught. Here's a long excerpt from the Wired News article:
"In an attempt to establish equity in the world of surveillance, participants at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference in Seattle this week took to the streets to ferret out surveillance cameras and turn the tables on offensive eyes taking their picture.

Following wearable computing guru Steve Mann into a downtown Seattle shopping mall, about two dozen conference attendees, some of them armed with handheld cameras, snapped photos of smoked-glass ceiling domes in Nordstrom and Gap stores, which may or may not have contained cameras.[...]

"The idea of surveillance that's powerful even if it's not actually present was in line with the theme of this year's CFP conference -- the Panopticon. The Panopticon was a model prison envisioned by philosopher Jeremy Bentham that used a smoked-glass oval guard tower to induce discipline and good behavior in prisoners who could never be certain if they were being watched.

"The mere possibility that someone might be watching prisoners would be enough to alter their behavior, ensuring, in the words of French philosopher Michel Foucault, that the effect of surveillance would be ongoing even if the surveillance itself wasn't. The mere perception of power would 'render its actual exercise unnecessary.'

"Mann, a University of Toronto professor who helped found MIT Media Lab's Wearable Computing Project, has made it a mission to make people more aware of the surveillance around them -- in the form of cameras concealed in store smoke detectors, smoked-glass domes, illuminated door exit signs and even stuffed animals sitting on store shelf displays -- by engaging in what he calls 'equiveillance through sousveillance.'"

Monday, April 11, 2005

Cyborg Penis on Forearm

Telegraph | News | Russian surgeons 'grow' penis on man's forearm (via BoingBoing):
"A Russian man born with genitals so small that he was unable to have sex has been given the chance to lead a normal love life after a new penis was 'grown' on his arm during pioneering surgery.

In an 11-hour operation, plastic surgeons in Moscow removed the 28-year-old's undersized penis and stitched it on to his left forearm, where they grafted on additional flesh and tissue taken from his inner arm. The newly enlarged organ, which had grown from less than 2ins to nearly 7ins, was then reattached to his groin."

Thursday, April 07, 2005

What kind of a bonehead would dub a motor-driven bio-cybernic super-strength exoskeleton "HAL"?

New Scientist Technology - Bionic suit offers wearers super-strength:
"Dubbed HAL, or hybrid assistive limb, the latest versions of the suit will be unveiled this June at the 2005 World Expo in Aichi, Japan, which opened last month. A commercial product is slated for release by the end of the year.

HAL is the result of 10 years' work by Yoshiyuki Sankai of the University of Tsukuba in Japan, and integrates mechanics, electronics, bionics and robotics in a new field known as cybernics. The most fully developed prototype, HAL 3, is a motor-driven metal 'exoskeleton' that you strap onto your legs to power-assist leg movements. A backpack holds a computer with a wireless network connection, and the batteries are on a belt."

It had to happen: Cyborg eggs, sperm, and embryos to be barcoded

New Scientist Breaking News - Electronic tags for eggs, sperm and embryos:
It makes perfect sense, of course...but still...what do they really know about the long-term effects of radio waves on gametes and embryos?
"Now, in a bid to stop such mistakes happening again, the UK’s regulatory body, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is considering labelling all embryos, eggs and sperm with barcodes or electronic ID tags. The idea, discussed at the HFEA’s annual conference in London last month, is that an alarm will sound if the wrong eggs and sperm are brought close to one another, for instance, or if a doctor attempts to collect the wrong embryo to implant into a mother-to-be."

Cyborg bionic eyes via wireless transmission and microchip

New Scientist Breaking News - 'Bionic eye' may help reverse blindness:
"A 'bionic eye' may one day help blind people see again, according to US researchers who have successfully tested the system in rats.

The eye implant - a 3-millimetre-wide chip that would fit behind the retina - could be a dramatic step above currently available technology, says the team at Stanford University, California, US."

Cyborgs can edit their genes

New Scientist Breaking News - 'Gene-editing' technique cuts out diseased DNA: More evidence on the shared and converging history of books/texts and bodies:
"A gene-editing process that corrects mutations without weaving foreign genetic material into the chromosome has been demonstrated in diseased human cells for the first time. It could provide a less risky and more efficient alternative to gene therapy, which has resulted in leukaemia in some patients."

Thesis: Cyborgs are digital texts. More on this later.

Sony patent: If Sony manipulates Cyborgs' brain waves, who gets copyright for the thoughts produced?

(via boingboing) New Scientist News - Sony patent takes first step towards real-life Matrix:

Sony has patented a theoretical technique of using ultrasound to influence and manipulate nerve impulses in the brain.
"IMAGINE movies and computer games in which you get to smell, taste and perhaps even feel things. That's the tantalising prospect raised by a patent on a device for transmitting sensory data directly into the human brain - granted to none other than the entertainment giant Sony.

The technique suggested in the patent is entirely non-invasive. It describes a device that fires pulses of ultrasound at the head to modify firing patterns in targeted parts of the brain, creating 'sensory experiences' ranging from moving images to tastes and sounds. This could give blind or deaf people the chance to see or hear, the patent claims."

Here's U.S. patent 6,536,440 itself, which describes the theoretical "non-invasive system and process for projecting sensory data onto the human neural cortex."