National Geographic : 2017 Apr
Beyond Human 43 with two anchors. A connected implant held the vibrating microchip, and another implant was a Bluetooth communication hub, so friends could send him colors through his smartphone. The antenna has been a revelation for Harbisson. The world is more exhilarating for him now. Over time, he said, the input has begun to feel neither like sight nor hearing but a sixth sense. The most intriguing part of the antenna, though, is that it gives him an ability the rest of us don’t have. He looked at the lamps on the roof deck and sensed that the infrared lights that activate them were off. He glanced at the planters and could “see” the ultraviolet markings that show where nectar is located at the centers of the flowers. He has not just matched ordinary human skills; he has exceeded them. He is, then, a first step toward the goal that visionary futurists have al- ways had, an early example of what Ray Kurzweil in his well-known book The Singularity Is Near calls “the vast expansion of human potential.” Harbisson hadn’t particularly meant to jump-start Kurzweil’s dream— his vision of the future is more sylvan than silicon. But since he became the world’s first official cyborg (he persuaded the British government to let him wear the antenna in his passport photo, arguing that it was not an electronic device, but an extension of his brain), he has also become a proselytizer. Ribas soon followed him into what is sometimes called trans- humanism by having a seismic monitor in her phone connect to a vibrating magnet buried in her upper arm. She gets real-time reports of earthquakes, EVOLUTION OF HUMAN TRAITS Icons (above), which appear throughout this story, depict cultural and biological milestones in human evolution.