How does science fiction talk about cyborgs, and what is it really like to become one? We'll compare a classic science fiction novel, Michael Crichton's The Terminal Man, with an account of what it's like to have one's hearing replaced by a computer, the memoir Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made me More Human. Crichton's novel, written in 1971, still holds up remarkably well after 40 years. It's about an epileptic man named Harry Benson who gets a brain implant designed to stop his seizures. Things go horribly wrong, with Benson going on a murderous rampage. For all that, the novel is remarkably prescient about the development of neurotechnology, and it's a wonderfully fun read. Chorost's memoir, published in 2005, is about what it's really like to get a computer implanted in one's head to treat deafness. It won the 2006 PEN award for Creative Nonfiction and has been lauded as "the first cyborg memoir." How does the first MC -- Michael Crichton -- compare to the second one -- Michael Chorost? In this seminar, we'll compare the dreams (and nightmares) of science fiction to the reality of cyborg technologies today.
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR
Dr. Michael Chorost is the author of World Wide Mind: The Coming Integration of Humanity, Machines, and the Internet, and Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human. A graduate of Brown University and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, he has given over 115 talks on neurotechnology at venues such as Google, MIT, Brown, Duke, and the Brookings Institute. Between books he freelances for Wired, New Scientist, and other magazines.
Totally deaf since 2001, Dr. Chorost now hears with two cochlear implants.