'World’s first cyborg' attends the World Government Summit in Dubai


Published: 2018-02-15 16:03

Last Updated: 2024-06-15 09:20

The self-declared “cyborg artist” was born with achromatopsia. (Instagram)
The self-declared “cyborg artist” was born with achromatopsia. (Instagram)

No, Neil Harbisson isn’t a made-up character from a sci-fi movie, he is a real-life "cyborg."

The British-born artist attended the World Government Summit in Dubai, the UAE, this week, where he talked about the mind-boggling brain implant that gave him his cyborg status.

“I have an antenna that is implanted inside my head, which allows me to extend my perception of reality beyond the visual spectrum. I can sense infrared and ultraviolet, and I also have internet connection in my head that allows me to receive colours from other parts of the world, or connect to satellite so I can send colours from space,” he said.

The self-declared “cyborg artist” was born with achromatopsia, a condition that only let him see in black and white.

However, the implant has allowed him to overcome his condition, as it is wifi-enabled and translates light waves into vibrations, enabling him to “hear” (perceive) colours.

Harbisson said that because he has an internet connection in his head, he is able to connect to satellites to sense colours from space, and to receive colours from all over the world.

He added that he can sense infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths as well.

Harbisson claims that the British government has officially recognized him as a cyborg in 2004.

“I see this as a body part, not a device, but as an organ. And I don’t wear an antenna, I have an antenna. So I see this as part of me,” he told reporters at the Summit.

That same year, Harbisson co-founded the Cyborg Foundation – an international organisation that defends cyborg rights, supports those who want to become cyborgs and promotes cyborg art.

The “human robot” warned that governments needed to accept that soon there will be more people like him, with technological body parts rather than organic ones.

“I came here to talk about how there will be more humans considering themselves to be cybernetic or to be cyborgs, how we will see people with organic and cybernetic body parts in the future and how governments should slowly accept these changes, that some of their citizens will also be part technology and part human,” he said at the Summit.

One in every 5,000 people across the world have synesthesia, according to Boston University.