My Dinner with Cyborg Neil Harbisson


One of the highlights of my recent trip to speak at the MBN Y Forum in Korea, was speaking on a panel at the VIP dinner with Cyborg Neil Harbisson. As far as artists go, Harbisson is about as avante garde as they come. That antenna you see hovering over his head is beyond your typical IOT wearable. It is what Harbisson considers an extrasensory organ that helps him detect colors outside the visible spectrum. And he more than just wears it well, it is surgically implanted into his skull. 

During the dinner I think I asked more questions for him than the rest of the room combined. When flash photography went off, I would ask him if there were any extra colors. I was also curious what the sensation of the infrared and ultraviolet colors felt like. Also asked him if he felt he was missing things when his cyborg appendage was off, to which I learned he could not turn it off anymore than we could turn off our own natural senses. He answered all my question patiently, though I hope I was not too annoying. But he was just too fascinating to not harrass. Harbisson was attempting to give his body more senses than he was born with. I had to learn as much as I could from him.


So I am not sure if I consider him a robotic artist in the traditional sense, except that he himself is attempting to become a robot. He has begun championing cyborg rights and is serving as a visionary to help ease what he considers is our inevitable evolution into cyborgs. Think about what he is championing and things become very interesting. In his talk he pointed out that never before in history have we had control over our evolution, but now we do. And not just on a mechanical level, but on a biological level as well.  Next 20-30 years will be interesting times.