A Cyborg Space Race

Summary: Who should explore space: robots or humans? Our ability to travel beyond Earth is hampered by the harsh conditions of space, but rather than let robots have all the fun, could cyborg technology allow humans to make greater strides into the final frontier?

Cyborgs – human beings merged with machines -- are a staple of science fiction. Star Wars’s Darth Vader, Star Trek’s Borg, and the Cybermen of Dr. Who are variations on this theme – and it’s no coincidence they’re all “bad guys.” Cyborgs symbolize one of our greatest fears: that over time, we will become so enmeshed in our technology that we lose our humanity.

The real-life application of cyborg science is far from horrifying. Medical technology has developed implantable heart pacemakers, insulin pumps, hearing aids, and even computer chips for the brain to treat depression and Parkinson’s disease. In that sense, we are already on the path to becoming cyborgs.

Transhumanists believe that the development of such technology will lead one day to “Human version 2.0” – an upgrade of the human body that not only eliminates many of the problems that plague us, but improves upon the basic human design. For instance, some transhumanists envision a day when the human brain will be re-wired with computer chips, allowing us to think, learn and communicate with unprecedented speed and accuracy.

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