Professor Experiments With Life As Cyborg
January 12, 2004 2:18 PM   Subscribe

Cyborgs in Canada? When you first meet Steve Mann, it seems as if you've interrupted him appraising diamonds or doing some sort of specialized welding. Because the first thing you notice is the plastic frame that comes around his right ear and holds a lens over his right eye.
posted by edmcbride (19 comments total)
Some prefer to wear them over the left eye.
posted by homunculus at 2:43 PM on January 12, 2004

I literally just finished reading Smart Mobs by Howard Rheingold (ISBN: 0738208612) yesterday. There's a lot of time spent with Mann and his thoughts on wearable computers. I personally found the ideas in the book interesting and the writing was a little dry, but it's worth looking into if this article piques your curiousity.
posted by patgas at 2:44 PM on January 12, 2004


Executive Cyborgs wear it over their right eye.

Eddie Izzard reference, sort of...
posted by edmcbride at 2:48 PM on January 12, 2004

Closer to home (for me anyway) is Thad Starner at Georgia Tech. He's only been a cyborg for about 10 years.
posted by zpousman at 3:11 PM on January 12, 2004

Mann has been at this for over 20 years. Worthchecking out is this review of the evolution of his technology, linked from his homepage. . . here's his homepage . I can't find the link, but Mann was suing an airline that due to security screening made "jack out" of his world, allegedly causing him harm (I think he lost his balance without the gear, fell, etc).
posted by donovan at 3:13 PM on January 12, 2004

The weird part for me isn't interacting socially with cyborgs. It's the vaguely unsettling notion when you're in a class with some (Many of Thad's students are cyborgs -- some are just part-timers, while others are in for life). I mean, how can that be fair. All I've got is my feble mind to remember things, while Kent has google, pdf, and transcripts of every-meeting-he's-ever-been-at (grep-able) at his fingertips. He just gets to ask lots smarter questions than I ever do.
posted by zpousman at 3:29 PM on January 12, 2004

I wear a digital wrist watch.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 3:41 PM on January 12, 2004


This sounds like a great thing to have. Insurance companies can watch the video you recorded while in that accident you got in.
Police could tap into the feed under Patriot act, and locate you at all times.
A hacker could display a pattern of images into your eye so that you drive right off a cliff.
And the tumors...

I prefer the more natural way to be one with circuitry:
posted by Busithoth at 3:59 PM on January 12, 2004

These articles and links would be improved greatly by some screen shots of what these guys are seeing. :o)
posted by alumshubby at 4:20 PM on January 12, 2004

I don't think I'd ever use something like that. If you record, process and analyze the real world for later revision, you miss out on the real world in the first place.
posted by tomorama at 4:57 PM on January 12, 2004

Steve is not a cyborg. He's a guy who likes computers, and who decided long ago to carry his around with him, always. That's it. Apparently, you can base an academic career around that.
posted by websavvy at 5:56 PM on January 12, 2004

Arrgh. Certainly. If only my EyeTap 1.0 Digital Eye Glass had not ben confounded by Stella Artois 4.0, I would have caught that.
posted by subgenius at 6:37 PM on January 12, 2004

Who would win in a fist-fight, though: Steve Mann or Jakob Nielsen? Eh?

That said, I have to admit Mann's idea of The Future sounds like a complete pain in the ass. I like my reality unmediated as much as possible, and if I need information... well, I'll go find it.

...the ultimate, in-your-face version of having a dinner companion who talks on a cell phone...

Yeah. This sounds rad. Can't wait. Bunch of low-attention-span-Borg-wet-dreamers. Bah.
posted by Coda at 7:05 PM on January 12, 2004

My thesis supervisor was visiting Steve Mann on the day of the infamous northeast blackout last summer.

He said it was great -- they were the only people in Toronto with light; Steve just plugged a lamp into his belt.
posted by krunk at 8:01 PM on January 12, 2004

related discussion
posted by swordfishtrombones at 2:05 AM on January 13, 2004

When I sold computers for a living, Steve Mann came in one day with his gear, looking to buy 20 LCD monitors (this was back when they were new and about $1000 for 15"). He seemed like a very strange guy. Not unpleasant, just sort of like a mole who was coming up above ground for a while. He didn't seem all that comfortable and didn't really ever look me in the eye when talking. I found it a very odd experience. And he never did buy the stuff from me, either!
posted by jmcnally at 8:55 AM on January 13, 2004

So this guy is the Canadian Kevin Warwick then?
posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:34 PM on January 13, 2004

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