I'm A Cyborg — And So Are You
the case for techno-optimism
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Last week, a woman asked me for directions at the subway station. I laughed and told her “I don't know! I’m a cyborg!”
No, I didn't say that, but it would've been accurate. I told her, “I’ve got no clue, I get lost most of the time,” which is true — I moved to NYC this month. I should've just told her to look at her phone like the rest of us.
When someone tries telling me directions to get somewhere, I cut them off mid-sentence and tell them I'll check my phone. There's not a chance I'll remember what they're saying. Hell, I can't even read a map unless it’s in Google Maps format.
I'm dependent on (and enhanced by) tech. I'm already a cyborg.
A few months ago, I tweeted I was a cyborg because I wore an Apple Watch, sleep-tracking Oura Ring, and AirPods. I may not have lasers implanted in me or a chip in my brain, but compared to my great-grandpa, I'm the fucking Terminator.
We are not like our ancestors. Our sense of direction may be worse, but we can look at directions on our watches. We may have trouble sleeping due to iPhones, but our sleep-tracking rings tell us our how much REM we're getting.
Writer Thaddeus Martin calls this the "machinification of the human body". He's against it, citing the terrors of digital dependence (although he makes a living from his Patreon).
I, for one, welcome the machinification of the human body. Bring on the brain chips and augmented reality glasses. While I'm as techno-optimistic and transhumanist as it gets, I do see both sides of the coin. I just choose to laugh along with the downsides.
As I stood in line for burritos with my friend Luke on Wednesday, he explained he was staring at screens all day and his brain was slowly adjusting back to non-screen reality. "Have you ever experienced this?" he asked. I chuckle. "Everyday."
My eyes hurt from staring at screens too long — I swear my vision has gotten worse. My brain often feels fried. But, hey, it's 2022 and I'm part of the laptop class. I pay my bills by typing on a laptop. It could be much worse than a little headache and dry eyes.
The first time I had a tweet go viral, I couldn't all asleep until 2 AM. I couldn't stop refreshing my phone. There was just too much to see. I woke up perplexed the next day like after a freshman year drunk one night stand. "What the fuck just happened?"
My girlfriend and I laugh whenever we see iPad babies at restaurants. They're zoned into nothing but their iPads. Am I that different? I sit on the Brooklyn-bound subway staring at my phone, miss my stop, curse aloud, and take a damn Uber to my destination.
I'm wearing digital handcuffs. Writer Tom White calls them "shackles of semiconductors". You get the point. I can't take them off. I could for a day or two, but I need to pay bills. Like Plato's Allegory of the Cave, this internet-driven life is all I know.
We used to fear bears. Now we fear Discord notifications.
— Jason Levin (@iamjasonlevin)
Jul 14, 2022
I'm finally reading Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near. "What, then, is the Singularity? It’s a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed."
I think we've hit the singularity bro. We may not be in virtual reality most of the time, but we're not going back to pre-internet days. At this point, turning off your screens is like stepping out of the matrix.
Even if we're plugged into the matrix, I'm having a bomb-ass time. I'm making decentralized friendships, 10x-ing my career, and learning constantly. Bring on Altered Carbon and Ready Player One, baby.
Being a cyborg has its issues, but I'm having the time of my life. Techno-optimism is the only way forward. Let's keep progressing.