Harvard Medical School Psychologist; Author of #1 Bestseller Emotional Agility
Innovation speaker Neil Harbisson was born colorblind. Using technology to augment his senses beyond what we normally consider human, he became the world's first cyborg. His installations and experiential art pieces are now celebrated internationally. Events with an eye to the future will welcome Harbisson’s fascinating reflections on the blurring lines between technology and humanity.
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Cyborg and technology speaker Neil Harbisson lives on the cutting edge of humanity and technology. Bringing his unique perspective to his role as a keynote speaker, Neil Harbisson galvanizes audiences around the world. A born storyteller, Harbisson offers engaging, thought-provoking presentations on how technology can deepen and extend what it means to be human.
Harbisson is a celebrated artist despite having been born colorblind. In 2004, he came up with a strikingly new way to address his condition. An antenna implanted in his skull allows Harbisson to perceive colors across and beyond the visual spectrum through audible vibrations. Additionally, the same mechanism allows him to receive phone calls, music, images, and videos through a wireless connection.
The antenna is such an integral part of Harbisson’s physical being that he identifies himself as a cyborg. The UK government recognized him as such when it allowed the antenna to feature in his passport photo. Harbisson’s art explores perception, identity, and the borderlands of humanity, technology, and expression.
Along with lifelong friend Moon Ribas, Harbisson founded the Cyborg Foundation in 2010. In 2017, he expanded his advocacy by co-founding the Transpecies Society. Both organizations give voice to people who identify as non-human and promote artistic expression facilitated by new sensory apparatuses.
Neil Harbisson is the co-founder of the Cyborg Foundation, an organization that promotes the use of cybernetics as a body part to extend human senses and perception. Harbisson has an antenna implanted in his skull that allows him to perceive colours that are outside human vision such as infrareds and ultraviolets. This talk will explore how taking an active part in our own biological evolution is no longer a theory, but an option. Becoming technology, instead of using or wearing technology, opens up the possibility of having additional organs and senses beyond the ones confined to our species. By merging ourselves with technology we can become the designers of our own body and perception; and we can increase our survival possibilities in earth and in outer space. Are we witnessing the renaissance of our species?
In this motivational talk, Neil will cover topics such as: What's a Cyborg? Artificial Senses vs. Artificial Intelligence. The use of the internet as a sense, and more.
Colour concerts are performances where, instead of playing an instrument, Neil plays colours. He amplifies the sounds in his head to the audience and he plays the colours that he has in front of him. He can either play different coloured objects or the colours of people’s faces. In the first instance, he points the antenna to each specific coloured object and keeps adding the different notes, he then creates different layers of sound that result in a composition based on colour. Alternatively, he asks the audience to come upstage and then he starts playing the notes of people’s hair, eyes, skin and lips and then he adds different layers and different rhythms, creating then a musical composition based on the colours from the public. It usually features 12 to 15 people. Neil likes to joke around saying that if the concert sounds bad it’s the audience’s fault.
In this motivational speech, cyborg speaker Neil Harbisson will share his provocative views on the future of our species. He will cover topics such as:
Self-design for the Environment: Humans have been modifying the environment for hundreds and hundreds of years in order to live more comfortably on Earth. We believe that by changing ourselves instead of the environment we can lead a more respectful life towards the planet. We can learn from other animal species that have been able to adapt to their surroundings better than us; for example, if we had night vision, like some other species have, we wouldn’t need light at night. We wouldn’t be using so much electricity and our planet could take a breath.
Tech for good: We are the ones who need to decide if the union between technology and ourselves alienates us from nature or instead, brings us closer to nature, other animals and space. If we extend our senses in order to perceive the planet in a deeper way, our understanding of it would be different, and so would be our behaviour. It’s very different to know that the earth is moving than to actually feel that it’s moving. Extending our senses can create more empathy and understanding towards the planet and towards other species also living in this planet.
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