Implant > Adapt to the new input > Evolve. This is not the slogan of the latest Hollywood movie that follows the cyborg theme. This is actually one of the lines of action (probably the most radical one) of the Cyborg Foundation, the online platform that works with the research, development, and promotion of projects that are related to the creation of new senses and perceptions from the implementation of new technology to the human body. Does this sound like a dystopian future? Well, no. As it’s already here.
CYBORG FOUNDATION, THE FUTURE IS HERE
The Cyborg Foundation is an online platform that is focused on exploring technological implants that broaden the human senses. It is also a stage for cyborg art and it revitalises cyborgs’ fundamental rights. Does this sound like a futuristic Hollywood movie? No way. The Cyborg Foundation is very real. And it’s been fully working for years.
In fact, it was in the year 2010 when Neil Harbisson and Moon Ribas created the Cyborg Foundation with a very clear mission in mind: helping any person who would like to become a cyborg, on top of giving repercussion to cyborg art and defending cyborgs’ fundamental rights. We’ve said it before, it sounds like a movie, but, actually, this foundation has been working for a long time on these three interconnected basic coordinates towards a revolutionary concept: they’re against the technology that helps you discover things, the Cyborg Foundation prefers to explore the technology that makes you feel or perceive.
This is the basis of a cyborgism that has nothing to do with the renowned concept of Artificial Intelligence: whilst in the case of AI the technology is created by a machine, the Cyborg Foundation defends the Artificial Sense in which the stimulus is gathered by technology but the intelligence is created by humans. Take for examples the cases of the founders of the foundation: Neil Harbisson has an implant that lets him listen to colours, whilst the implant in Moon Ribas’ arm is a seismic sensor with which she can feel in the shape of the vibrations of all of the world’s earthquakes in real time.
Both Harbisson and Ribas’ implants aren’t functional, but they try to look for new cyborg senses to understand the world in unprecedented and original ways. That is the basis of it all, also, of a new cyborg art in which the artist explores their body’s physical frontiers through the implants that turn them into the only receiver of their own artistic creation. Their job as a cyborg artist is, in this way, trying to pass on to the rest of humans how a new sense can and should reconfigure the way in which we perceive the world around us.
The third and last coordinate of the Cyborg Foundation? Fighting for cyborgs’ fundamental rights, something for which, at the SXSW festival and with the help of the activist Rich MacKinnon, in the year 2016 they already officially proposed a list of Cyborg Civil Rights between which the freedom for the dismantling of the body could be found, as well as equality for mutants. But the Cyborg Foundation’s job is something that is alive but at the same time has a touch of mutant. That’s why, for example, one of Harbisson and Ribas’ most recent projects with the help of Manel Muñoz (another famous cyborg who has barometric senses installed in his body) has been the creation of the Transpecies Society: a community for those people who identify themselves as not human. And this time this does sound like a dystopian future that deserves its own article. But, for now, however, we should start assimilating the existence of the Cyborg Foundation.