The term “cyborg” refers to a mix of human and machine that conjures images of popular science fiction movies like “Blade Runner” and the “Terminator” series, or DC comics’ “Cyborg.” But cyborgs are very real. At the simplest level, some anthropologists consider that our use of smartphones makes us all cyborgs, since they allow us to interact with our social and cultural environments in a much broader way than humans could before.
But it goes much further than that. People are now getting chips implanted in their bodies that let them open automatic doors or access communal printers with a wave of the hand; some companies in Europe are implanting chips that will allow users to make payments or identify themselves when opening a bank account. And then there’s a subculture of “grinders” who have grander dreams—for example, Tim Cannon, the founder of Grindhouse Wetware, a Pittsburgh-based “biohacking” company that builds custom implants in his basement. His goal: to ultimately use these technologies to become immortal.
Our new film, “Becoming Cyborg,” explores the strange new world of the contemporary cyborg movement, and the pioneers who are making it happen.
The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.