The most basic definition of a cyborg is a being with both organic and cybernetic (artificial) parts. Taking this definition too literally, however, would suggest that almost every human in a civilized society is a cyborg. For example, if you have a dental filling, then you have an artificial part, and by the above definition, you are (literally) a cyborg. If we choose to restrict the definition to advanced artificial parts/machines, however, we must realize that many humans have artificial devices to replace hips, knees, shoulders, elbows, wrists, jaws, teeth, skin, arteries, veins, heart valves, arms, legs, feet, fingers, and toes, as well as “smart” medical devices, such as heart pacemakers and implanted insulin pumps to assist their organic functions. This more restrictive interpretation qualifies them as cyborgs. This definition, however, does not highlight the major element (and concern) regarding becoming a cyborg, namely, strong-AI brain implants.

While humans have used artificial parts for centuries (such as wooden legs), generally they still consider themselves human. The reason is simple: Their brains remain human. Our human brains qualify us as human beings. In my book, The Artificial Intelligence Revolution (2014), I predicted that by 2099 most humans will have strong-AI brain implants and interface telepathically with SAMs (i.e., strong artificially intelligent machines). I also argued the distinction between SAMs and humans with strong-AI brain implants will blur. Humans with strong-AI brain implants will identify their essence with SAMs. These cyborgs (strong-AI humans with cybernetically enhanced bodies), whom I call SAH (i.e., strong artificially intelligent human) cyborgs, represent a potential threat to humanity. It is unlikely that organic humans will be able to intellectually comprehend this new relationship and interface meaningfully (i.e., engage in dialogue) with either SAMs or SAHs.

Let us try to understand the potential threats and benefits related to what becoming a SAH cyborg represents. From the standpoint of intelligence, SAH cyborgs and SAMs will be at the top of the food chain. Humankind (organic humans) will be one step down. We, as organic humans, have been able to dominate the planet Earth because of our intelligence. When we no longer are the most intelligent entities on Earth, we will face numerous threats, similar to the threats we pose to other species. This will include extinction of organic humans, slavery of organic humans, and loss of humanity (strong-AI brain implants cause SAHs to identify with intelligent machines, not organic humans).

While the above summaries capsulize the threats posed by SAMs and SAHs, I have not discussed the benefits. There are significant benefits to becoming a SAH cyborg, including:

  • Enhanced intelligence: Imagine knowing all that is known and being able to think and communicate at the speed of SAMs. Imagine a life of leisure, where robots do “work,” and you spend your time interfacing telepathically with other SAHs and SAMs.
  • Immortality: Imagine becoming immortal, with every part of your physical existence fortified, replaced, or augmented by strong-AI artificial parts, or having yourself (your human brain) uploaded to a SAM. Imagine being able to manifest yourself physically at will via foglets (tiny robots that are able to assemble themselves to replicate physical structures).

Will you become a cyborg? Yes, many of us already qualify as cyborgs, based on the discussion above. Will we become SAH cyborgs? I think it likely, based on how quickly humans adopt medical technology. The lure of superior intelligence and immortality may be irresistible.

My point in writing this article was to delineate the pros and cons of becoming a SAH cyborg? Many young people will have to decide if that is the right evolutionary path for themselves.