In my family, all members had bad teeth and it started with my grandparents. No matter how well dental care was practiced, it seemed that these natural tools of man did not want to function or be preserved. In the end, a denture always had to replace the original. I had a fascination with my grandmother's third teeth from a young age. In the evenings, when she would put them in a jar with chemicals and water to clean them overnight, I would curiously look over the edge of the sink and wonder how they were made. At the same time, my toothbrush was stuck in the corner of my mouth, waiting to be used.
As a country child, I had lost my baby teeth at a very early age and the second ones had to be bent in the right direction with a fixed bracket. Not only was everything in my mouth of poor material quality, all my teeth were crooked. Like a wall built by a drunken mason.My braces were a technical marvel and if I didn't cut my own mouth open on the bent wires from brackets that had fallen off, a classmate had to go through the painful experience of having his entire fist cut open when he punched me in the face. Fixed braces evolved from a technical construct to a self-defense mechanism. I was already a cyborg as a child.
In my teenage years, I completely gave up on doing anything with my teeth. I cleaned them only sporadically and loaded them with far too many sweets. Brawls and accidents took care of the rest. So, little by little, the originals were replaced with fillings, copies and other replacements. From the age of 20+ I owned almost no teeth and at 30+ followed in the footsteps of George Washington All that glitters is not dental ceramics. At some point I made the decision to have everything completely overhauled. I had a chipped tooth at the bottom that was replaced with a new crown. Above, a bridge and then two large partial dentures. That was a total of 6000€; which was covered by my health insurance. The treatment lasted almost four months and most of the time I had to wear a prototype. The Covid-19 Pandemic helped me to conceal the intermediate steps. Except for a faint lisp, no one could tell the difference behind the black FFP2 mask. Like a caterpillar, I hid in the chrysalis under a leaf until I became a cybernetic butterfly.
Without realizing it, I turned into a real cyborg, which I already was before without really realizing it. I wear electronic devices on my body that take over functions that are not intended for my biological system. Coordinates to better find my way on this planet. Communication over millions of kilometers to other nodes. The Internet as a permanently activated information channel of a constant control instance. Every device gives away my essence of a human being and personal data and shares them freely or involuntarily with other cyborgs. Glasses help me to see better and even that is a soft cyborg tool. Everything doesn't always have to blink and send data to be technology. I recognize three definitive gradations of a cyborg.
I am currently an in-between soft and hard cyborg. I've been using soft cyborg technology for years without really realizing its importance. I put most devices away when I go to rest and put them back on the next morning. In regulated social systems, timepieces and communication technologies are an essential part of our society. It is expected from a large part that one owns a mobile or smartphone through which one can be reached. The scientific fiction of literature has slowly crept into our everyday lives without us noticing the obvious. Having NFC technology painted on your fingernail is the latest craze among the cyborg chic in Dubai.
It's easy to forget that grinders and bio-hackers were the pioneers of these developments. A few years ago, an RFID chip implant was considered so unusual that news magazines fantasized about the cyborg revolution among young people. A magnet in a finger attracted hundreds of thousands of clicks on its own video, whether just showing the bloody process or how many screws it could pick up. Cyborg Art was born at the same time from the desire to mix cyborg culture with art and so interesting projects like measuring earthquakes, as a dance project or seeing colors were born. I had always played with the idea of joining this transformation, but never had the vibe for an interesting project. As of today, I am a soft-hard cyborg myself because some of my teeth are forever attached to my body without being a real part of it. But doesn't this make them a part of my body, my human essence?
I have tasted blood not only in the literal sense. How can I upgrade or modify my partial dentures? Can I make a copy of what dental professionals and technicians have built into me? Just like when I looked at my grandmother's teeth and wondered how this fascinating technology worked, I want to dig deeper into dental technology. Put it this way, the incisors of an adult human being are as big as a fingernail. So it should be possible, perhaps only temporarily, to use NFC as a digital business card. I must not damage the original, but we live in the age of do it yourself DIY. 3D printers, CNC and silicone is no longer a fabrication device that was only affordable at horrendous expense to the experimental research cyborg. Software, internet and the global service society takes care of the rest. Within a week, my components, with the largest CO2 footprint I shouldn't really be able to afford, arrive delivered to my home.
Another question that is troubling me is how cyborgs define their gender. Will that even be necessary once we have modified family, society, and technology, that it might only be perceived as an old relic of a pre-post-humanist society? Of the non-cyborgs who mourn a good old time that never existed in sociological reality. Aren't all cyborgs somehow diverse? Transformation is always taking place and only very few will want to escape it. The technologies, the achievements, the social pressure of groups and the facilitations of everyday life are too tempting. If I want to have artificial breasts fitted, it no longer depends on a social norm, but only on a positive entry in the database of my account. No matter how many people will be indignant about it. In a time in which individual non-sexes will play an ever greater role, the human being as a biological prefabricated and static creature will give way to a cyborg-human hybrid being that can be constantly modified and upgraded. The future, it has been here for a long time and is slowly creeping into our everyday lives. Also in our gender image.
However, dangers will also emerge. In a technologically oriented society, cyborgs will be among the existences whose upgrades will give them better opportunities, and not just on the job market. A healthy cyborg has a healthy bank card. Nicer teeth, eyes, hair or genitals will lead to better chances on the market of those willing to mate. Norms and commoners will then have to settle for their own kind. Who wants a one night stand with someone who can't even open his love hotel room with an RFID chip? Out of the discotheque, paying the bill with a strip on the reader, having a carsharing electric car sent to you on the street and ordering a few drinks to the room on the way. The gender of the partner? I'm not interested, as long as we get along and make love for a few hours and exchange ideas about our latest devices. Nevertheless, there will always be a bitter aftertaste, because what effect does a cyborg have on a person if it can record data with its eyes?
Furthermore, further dependencies are created. What is my technology worth if I can't repair it myself and thus become dependent on a few large corporations? Data protection is a very open definition of net-political data activists. Not to mention the corporations. What good is my artificial heart if I can't pay for the next upgrade and then belong to the outcasts of society? As a junkman, I then eke out an existence with unprotected software and hardware. Do I really need the Gucci arm prosthesis or isn't the one from KIK in the grab box enough? The cyborg as a construct of dependencies and data protection catastrophes is one of the most likely dystopian developments we are heading for. Groups will also form within the cyborg culture, just as young people today orient themselves by which smartphone model you own. From this, however, countercultures can emerge that consciously use retro-tech to escape the daily hyper-trend madness. The Primark leg prosthesis as a proletarian and anti-capitalist statement of the cyborg neo-intelligenzia avant-garde. Via my Telnet low-tech brain chip I send love greetings from Rhine-Ruhr megaplex. Kevin-Schakkeline gives me Upvote.
Whatever the future may bring can only be seen very hazily in the technological crystal ball. As a Millennial, I'm from the pre-Internet era. We used pagers and cell phones to date each other. Everything I see today I only knew in part from the Neuromancer trilogy. This cyborg technology that I describe here as partly fantastic is catching up with me faster and faster and as a still-human I am transforming myself further and further into this new future. As a cyborg. As part of a common culture and post-humanistic society.