Neil Harbisson Is A Cyborg Who Can Hear Colors
Imagine you were rendered unable to distinguish between colors, unable to tell the different between black, white, yellow, or not knowing why an orange is called an orange. It would be an unusual form of torture, but that’s what Neil Harbisson has had to live with for most of his life. Born with a condition known as achromatopsia, he is unable to see colors and is affected by complete color blindness.
But this unfortunate tale has a happy ending, as Harbission became the owner of a device created by Adam Montandon called the Eyeborg. The device is embedded in Harbission’s skull and provides a synesthetic function, translating colors into sounds. Not only does he get to experience that alchemical transformation of the senses, but he’s also got the credential of being the first ever cyborg (his passport picture includes the device).
“My body and technology have united”, Harbission says in the short film above, Cyborg Foundation by Rafel Duran Torrent, which raises questions on how our relationship to technology might change as biotech journeys from a science fiction to an everyday reality.
Technologist Amber Case, who studies our relationship with machines, already considers us low-tech cyborgs, what with our constant attachment to our devices. The question is: how will this relationship evolve as wearable tech becomes ubiquitous, and technology and our physical selves (and physical reality) become less distinguishable?