...really good teaching is about not seeing the world the way that everyone else does...

"Good teachers perceive the world in alternative terms, and they push their students to test out these new, potentially enriching perspectives. Sometimes they do so in ways that are, to say the least, peculiar."
Mark Edmundson, "Geek Lessons" NYT, 2008

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

HUMAN+ explores the technologically enhanced future of our species

What do we mean when we speak about human enhancement? New York University professor Wafaa Bilal recently had a video camera implanted on a titanium base in the back of his skull. Leaving wires dangling awkwardly along his neck, the camera sent images to a remote server every 60 seconds. Students' concerns over their privacy, faced with a teacher who for once really did have eyes in the back of his head, forced Bilal to wear a lens cap while teaching, somewhat defeating the point.

A few months later an infection forced Bilal to remove the camera, and simply wear it around his neck, but he remains keen to have it back in his skull as soon as possible. Why? What is the difference, you might wonder, between a camera strapped to someone's neck and the same camera attached to the skull with a titanium plate? To Bilal, it is all about a demonstration of 'commitment', making the painful surgery and risk of infection worthwhile. Bilal's messy piece of DIY illustrates some of the challenges around popular perceptions of human enhancement.


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