Growing up, many of us must have loved science fiction movies. Especially, even more so as we grow up and are old enough to take natural science classes at school, we become aware of the technology around us and are finally able to compare the current technological developments with what we see on the white screens. This realization can make those movies even more fun. The technology we see in some movies is incredibly fascinating and captivating, such as what we will discuss today: cyborgs.
Now that we have mentioned it, what are cyborgs, and what differentiates them from robots or humans? Well, cyborgs are neither robots nor humans. At least not fully. While there are lots of definitions floating around, one of them is that Cyborgs do have both artificial and organic parts. However, for something to pass as a cyborg, the artificial part has to be able to imitate the organic parts (Brey, Philip, and Johnny Hartz Søraker). Overall, cyborgs are a combination of biological and mechanical parts (“Cyborgs.”). Yet, most people can disagree, and the definition of cyborgs can easily become a discussion topic considering there is no visible line: the line to distinguish or gauge the humanity of a cyborg or the percentage of how machine it is. And thus, it remains a topic for ethics.
Yet, what we watched all those years in theaters might be closer to becoming real than we anticipated, although not in the way we have anticipated. As technology progresses, every day, engineers find ways to create things we might not have even deemed possible in real life, or even paid a mind to. One of the examples is this: cyborg cockroaches. Imagine being able to have control over insects and their range of access with their sizes! They are controlled wirelessly and remotely, with the mechanical part of the cyborg being flexible and adjusted accordingly to the size of the creature, granting the organism some mobility even. Supplying power for the mechanical parts on such a small scale on a cockroach without limiting movement could have been one of the greatest challenges. However, it was resolved by being charged by solar cells instead. These solar cells were small enough to only encompass a section of the cockroaches’ bodies. Overall, they only require the sun for energy (Riken).
Right now, there are limitations to this process, be it regarding the extent of the movement control or the species of the insects. What we read today might not be about cyborg flying insects that spy for us, or not even remotely close to watching science fiction movies all day. Yet, as days pass, we get closer and closer to that reality. A few years, maybe a decade prior, younger versions of ourselves would be awed to see, use, or even touch the technology we utilize every single day. Cyborg cockroaches might not be one of those, however, it is mesmerizing. Not just because of how incredible it is, but by demonstrating to us how far we have come along and by reminding us that we get closer to the future in which these technological advancements await us.
Brey, Philip, and Johnny Hartz Søraker. “Philosophy of Computing and Information Technology.” Philosophy of Technology and Engineering Sciences, North-Holland, 29 Jan. 2010, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780444516671500513.
“Cyborgs.” SFE: Cyborgs, https://sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/cyborgs.
Riken. “Japanese Scientists Create Remote-Controlled Cyborg Cockroaches.”
SciTechDaily, 9 Sept. 2022, https://scitechdaily.com/japanese-scientists-create-remote-controlled-cyborg-cockroaches/.
Image: 邰秉宥 from Changhua, Taiwan, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons