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Keynote Speaker Neil Harbisson

Neil Harbisson: Cyborg Art, Artificial Senses, Cyborg Activist


Neil Harbisson - What is a Cyborg? Technology for Good. Artist with Artificial Intelligence.

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Neil Harbisson is a modern artist and cyborg activist with antenna implanted in his skull. He can see sounds and invisible colours. His art is strongly influenced by his new identity.

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Neil’s topics are exciting, new and will inspire you in many ways. Extraordinary performance that will make your audience speechless.

What is a cyborg?
Cyborgs are the connection between cybernetics and organisms. As both are in exponential development, the definition of a cyborg is also continually evolving. We define cyborgism as the diverse types of associations between technology and organisms. This combination can represent itself in many ways: biologically, neurologically and/or psychologically.

Cyborg Art
Cyborg Art is an artistic journey in which artists grow their senses beyond their physical limits by implementing technology to their bodies. The art pieces of a cyborg artist are the new sense, but it is a creative work that results from the artist. In cyber art, the art piece, the followers, and the gallery are in the same body.

Artificial Senses (AS) versus Artificial Intelligence (AI)
There is a discrepancy between technology that makes it possible to know things and technology that makes it plausible to feel things. Cyborg Art centers on creating fabricated senses, where stimuli are collected by technology, but people provide intelligence. Unlike artificial intelligence, where the computer itself provides knowledge.

Revealed Reality
Developing new functions will allow us to deepen the reality of our planet. We do not recognize this Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR); this is considered as Real Reality or even Revealed Reality (RR).  The new sense enables us to unveil a presence that exists but that we cannot observe with our natural senses.

The application of the internet for sense perceptions
Using the internet as a sense can enable us to divide our bodies from our senses, perceiving things that are passing far from our bodies, actions that happen on the other side of the planet or even in space.

Classifying as transpecies means understanding the concept of not feeling 100% human. We are in constant evolution and can now take an actual role in our development. We can take inspiration from nature and other animals, whose functions and organs we want to have. There are many functions that we could use for our benefit, from electric reception, magneto-reception, night vision, echolocation, and many more.

Self-design x Environment
Human beings have changed the environment for hundreds and hundreds of years make their lives on Earth more comfortable. Cyborgs assume that by changing themselves instead of nature, people can lead a more respectful life on the earth.

Humanity can study other animal species that are more capable of adapting to their environment than we are. For example, if we had night vision, like some other animals, we would not need light at night anymore. That would mean no more electricity for the nightlight, and an eco-friendly solution for our planet.

Technology for good
It is us who have to choose whether the connection between technology and ourselves takes us away from reality or brings us closer to nature, other animals and space. If we expand our senses to observe the planet more profoundly, our knowledge of it would be different, as would our behavior.

The knowledge, that the earth is moving is very different from experiencing that it is rotating. The expansion of our senses can do more for us, more for our empathy, understanding, and cohesion with other animals.

Neil Harbisson’s career

Neil Harbisson is a modern UK-born Catalan artist and cyborg activist who is known for having had an antenna implanted in his skull. He is officially recognized as a cyborg by a government. The antenna enables him to perceive visible and invisible colors through audible vibrations in his skull, which includes infrared and ultraviolet. He also receives colors from space, pictures, videos, melodies or phone calls straight to his head via an internet connection.

Harbisson classifies himself as a cyborg; he considers himself a technology as well as trans-species. He doesn’t feel 100% human anymore. His work examines individuality, social perception, the association between seeing and hearing, and the value of artistic expression through new sensory inputs.

In 2010, together with Moon Ribas, he set the Cyborg Foundation, an international organization dedicated to helping people cyborgs, defending the rights of cyborgs, and promoting cyborg art. In 2017, he co-founded the Transpecies Society with Manuel Munoz and Moon Ribas, an association that gives voice to individuals with non-human identities, protects freedom of self-design, and supports the creation of unique senses and new organs in the society.

Cyborg activism
The current status concerning the consent of cyborg operations by bioethics committees and the assistance of the Cyborg Foundation in the committee responsible for writing the first Robolaws in Europe are a few of many activities. Cyborgs try to minimize concerns manifested by insurance companies and the public anxieties about privacy and physical hackers. These activists advocate for the right to self-concept and demonstrate why everyone should have the choice to determine how to perceive reality, shape their own body and have their own identity.

Neil Harbisson’s beliefs
Neil Harbisson believes, that technology and art are meant to work together. He believes in our own choice to transform our bodies and come even closer to nature and save our environment.

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