The future of technologies is still fluid, however, there are ways to predict where it may, or may not head, according to current trends in technological advancement. For the purposes of my own research project, I decided to mainly focus on technologies related to medical implantations for recreational use, and where I thought this technology is headed in 5, 10, 20- and 50-years’ time. While researching this I wanted to also take into consideration the ethical dilemmas that might arise with the implementation of this technology.
For my very first blog, my focus was on the entertainment industry. I did this as popular cultures such as movies and TV series are an easy way of introducing the wider population to a verity of concepts in a far less invasive manner. It is not to say that those who watch them are not somewhat frightened by the possibilities shown, but it is far easier to digest something when it is “fictional” than when it is, in fact factual. Thus, I chose several TV shows and movies that helped me introduce the idea of medical implantations for leisure and how that might look. This also helped me map out a sort of timeline of how I thought these technologies could fit into the 5, 10, 20- and 50-year timeframes.
The second blog I wanted to explore real-world experiments that have been conducted and are still being performed on humans. I was surprised to find that the introduction of medical implants, such as microchips, have been used multiple times already in American, English and Swedish trials.
In his 2017 Ted Talk, Steve Hoffman spoke about how monkeys have already been experimented with to see if brain microchips can be used to control other objects and that the next step was to trial such devices on humans. In fact, as I have already mentioned in my blog, human trials have already been done at the University of Louisville’s Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Centre in 2018 on three patients with spinal cord injuries. I honestly see that in 5-10 years’ time we will start to see these chips being used to help the disabled gain some form of independence again, or even movement. A current example of this is Alex Lewis who became a motivational speaker after he lost his arms, legs and part of his face after a common cold turned toxic. He has begun using microchip implants that allow him to open doors, something which abled bodied persons take for granted, these chips also store his banking and medical information. His hope is to one day be able to drive a car again.
My third and last blog was just a bit of fun to wrap up my project exploring a single form of medical implantation in the form of gaming devices considering both fictional worlds and real-world examples.
Considering how fast these technologies are advancing, and with people already embracing the idea of being a “cyborg” with prosthetic limbs, and other people chipping themselves to store personal information, I honestly believe VR goggles will be replaced with chips in 20 years’ time, possibly sooner. I also think it is more than possible for chipping to becoming mandatory and it being peddled as some form of security measure, like what has been explored in the short film, ‘Nano’ made by DUST. It will probably be around this time that the law begins to catch up to these sorts of technologies.
With only the technological implant being covered should it malfunction and cause the user harm, there is nothing, currently, to cover misuse of these technologies or even hacking of these devices that could end in massive breaches of privacy. But also, how much control we are handing over to devices that can be so easily manipulated by outside sources without much protection in place.
In 50 years’, I am scared to think about how humans might look. I believe the worlds seen within Altered Carbon and Ghost in the Shell could very well be a reality. With the very identity of a person being nothing more than a microchip and their body something that is just seen as a replaceable shell and people unable to determine if the life they’ve led is real or fabricated.
While attempting to further the explorations of these technologies I tried to reach out to a larger audience through my followers on my blog, twitter account and personal Facebook page. With little success, I considered some of the feedback given to me and decided to share the blog on Reddit.
I reached out to a few friends with my last blog and they were kind enough to comment to discuss the movie eXistenZ with me. Dean had been the one to suggest the movie in the first place, so it was great to get his feedback on his take on the movie, as well as Anne, who was a first-time viewer. My Reddit post only really got one comment with a link to a rather interesting website the person had been putting together with his thoughts on “transhumanism”.
I was also fortunate enough to be asked to collaborate with Emily Grujevski on her own project, The Land of Make Believe. A four-part podcast where she has discussed a variety of topics based on potential outcomes in the future. This was an amazing way for me to go over the topics I have been researching and it was wonderful to see that my own work had inspired another student in their own project. I also like helping out others when and where I can.
This project really opened my eyes to how quickly we are moving technologically. I am both amazed and horrified. And while most of my feedback came in the form of a few extra likes on my blog, it was nice to see that I was getting a little more exposure and I sincerely hope that this translates into more interactions on future projects.