The Right to Choose

I dedicated my research today to the subject of wearables and was pleased to find that way cooler things than the Apple Watch are out there. From jewelry like objects that can use your body’s energy to recharge your cell phone to the famous magnetic finger implants that are all the rage within the biohacker community, people are obviously interested in manipulating and changing the human body in brand new ways. What impresses me most are the potential implantable technologies of the future. Wearables are really just a stepping stone for bringing the technology outside of us, inside of us, and forever changing the human being.

It got me thinking, is this really a new trend? Humans have been modifying their bodies since the beginning of time. Egyptians removed their body hair, makeup has been a mainstay for both men and women, our founding fathers wore powdered wigs and breast and butt augmentation are becoming the norm. I color my hair differently to pass the seasons and have several tattoos, as well as pierced ears.

Modifying the body is a very human thing to do. We are creating and re-creating constantly.

So the addition of computer interfaces, eye scans, RFIDs and nanobots into our physical being seems like the next step in our evolution. We are a species that takes our technology and experiments upon ourselves. This is the reason we can effect the world the way we do—we’re intrusive in our experimentation.

Yet part of me hesitates, the way I do about plastic surgery or shaving my legs. Why must I change this body? Why can’t I just be happy with what is, with what I am?

I’m caught between the thrill of advancement and wanting to just Be.

I believe very strongly that this next wave of technological enhancements to the human form—by which I mean the point where wearables become implants—will change the entire face of the human race. While it comes from the ancient impulse to change and craft ourselves, it will have the power to create a whole new species. The difference between those who chose to adopt these technologies into their bodies and those who don’t will be much greater than the differences between those who are tattooed and those who aren’t. Famous actresses may change their looks to remain young, but they aren’t really younger. In the future, there is the potential they actually could be younger through technology.

I don’t fear our future and I encourage technological advancement. To stop humans from their path of creativity is wrong. Yet it would be even more wrong to force implants into someone who doesn’t want them. The key is choice. We need to begin to get comfortable with others choosing paths different from ours. Rather than judge that woman for having Botox, respect her decision. Rather than state there’s only one way to love, or one way to be married, or one way to look, or one way to worship God, we need to move into a place where we can just be with ourselves, and one another, without judgement.

If we can’t get over telling others how to live their lives, then the future isn’t so bright. As technology finds its way into our bodies, our xenophobia will turn from the current divisions of race, sex, and religion to those who chose to adopt and the non-adopters. Given that adopters will most likely be more technically advanced, they’ll find themselves in a place of power, which often leads to domination.

If someone doesn’t want to jump on that ship, if someone would like to live a simple life unplugged from the systems, defining technology to their own beat, then they should be allowed to do it. The freedom to chose what goes into our bodies must be held sacred, no matter how far technology advances.

We’re still having a hard time allowing people to chose their path in freedom. Let’s work as hard on the skill of acceptance as we are on our scientific advancements.