A – Accessibility

Educated Wendigo-Norwescon 39

An educated Wendigo – Norwescon 39

 

 

AWhat is the future of Accessibility? The discussion was inspiring and disturbing all at the same time when I  tossed the idea around with some cool and qualified panelists and con-attendees for one precious hour at Norwescon 39 last week.

Disability in one area can mean super-ability in others, we observed. A gentleman in a wheelchair noted that he can outrun any of us on the street. A panelist on the autism spectrum is proud of her ability to hyper-focus and mentioned the remarkable talents and enhanced productivity of many who are cognitively atypical.

Conclusion: the definition of disability has changed and is changing in society. The technological and medical breakthroughs are aiding this move toward increasing ability for those born with differences from the norm, and allowing them to surpass the abilities of those with biology that fits the norm.

Not only are advances being used to allow equal accessibility but we are implanting, injecting and integrating technology from micro to robotic and producing super humans. And this is only going to get more extreme.

We talked about how the global online community is helping to spread access to tech-prostheses by  offering local 3-D printers to make customized robotic hands available to children around the world. And we discussed digital memory implants that could be used to give learning advantages to children or expand internal data storage or allow instantaneous programming of knowledge for adults as well.

Our particular group voted through as optimistic on where this cyber-human movement would take us, despite a few expressed misgivings about moral questions – especially in regards to forcing tech on minors – and concerns about economic advantage causing power skews and gaps in accessibility of another sort altogether. We believed it will be a good change for mankind, were encouraged about the current trend of grassroots sharing of technology, and considered the future of enhancements as bright, almost unanimously.

But then the discussion took a turn to the dark side. Without much more discussion of the ins and outs of things, the same panelist asked for a vote on how many believed in the survival of humanity two hundred years into the future. Very few were believers.

There was a classroom-wide snicker at our own inconsistency. When we traced down the discrepancy we came to some interesting conclusions. We believe that humanity may not survive but that our evolution into bio-machines is hopeful. So in essence, we expect to eradicate ourselves one nano-bot at a time until we are no more. To eat away at our humanity until we become something other. And…we are okay with that. Hmm…

What do you think? Is the move toward biotech and cyber-humans a good thing? Are you concerned about the morality of genetically or tech enhancing children or workforces? Do you think this evolution will be skewed by economic advantage or spread with open collaboration and generosity?  When do we cease to be human? Is that okay with you?

 

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About sherijkennedyriverside

Left brain, right brain, I can't decide. After many years of successful visual arts pursuits, I'm working on my other creative inclinations. For the past 8 years, writing has been my second full time job, and it's worth every sleepless night. Sheri J. Kennedy grew up mostly a city-girl coasthopping from Seattle to rural Pennsylvania, Miami and back to Seattle. She currently resides on the banks of the Snoqualmie River in the scenic Cascade Mountains. Her heart has found its home.
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2 Responses to A – Accessibility

  1. pluviolover says:

    Wednesday night I was with a group that took a very different side, even quoting S. Hawking. I asked if Harking could speak. “No,” they said. “But he does,” says I. Then I asked how. They relented–technology. My wife worked at OU Assistive Technology Division. It is their life. We humans have problems, biotech help is good. We cease to be human when we stop caring–too many of us have.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very thoughtful comment. Thanks! I think you’re right about that. One of our group touched on this concept too. He got to the ‘heart’ of the matter in considering it may be the simple things that make us human, like ‘patting the dog or kissing my wife,’ he said. He was concerned that our techno-frenzy pulls us away from this and wondered if there might be a resistance of a group of people who choose to unplug completely. I think your comment shows the marriage of the two things is very possible, and again I feel hopeful that our society will equalize to more facility and accessibility with greater compassion for everyone.

      Like

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