In the 1987 classic directed by Paul Verhoeven, criminals brutally murder a Detroit police officer, who is then revived by the malevolent mega-corporation Omni Consumer Products and transformed into a law enforcer that is now a cyborg. The movie's themes of identity, dystopia and human nature, in particular, are only growing more pressing - which is probably why the movie has been remade again for 2014. As the pace of technological change continues at an ever-increasing pace, we are continuing to merge with our technology.
According to futurist Ray Kurzweil, we are more and more inhabiting "a world that that is still human but that transcends our biological roots." As human and machine meld, right along with physical & virtual reality, and "us and them" as well as "here versus e-there" dissapear into a single entity. Singularity, as Kurzweil has dubbed it, is inevitable. "Ours is the species," he explains, "that inherently seeks to extend its physical and mental reach beyond current limitations."
But, as the myth of Icarus teaches, boundaries aren't just designed to hem us in; they also function to save us from extending beyond our current limitations too quickly or recklessly. Which is an explicit theme that the FUTURENETICS tribe is wrestling with: how to adopt and become one with technology without killing ourselves in the process. Artists like photographer Alvaro Villarrubia continue to wrestle with coaxing out the softer side of cybernetics while upgrading the outdated portions of our biological coding.
Here's the podcast I recorded about this:
Music by Kevin MacLeod, Incompetech.com
- Lesley Scott