Meet the 'Eyeborg,' the Filmmaker With a Video Camera Eye
Neil Harbisson may be the world's first cyborg, but Rob Spence is currently winning the race to become the world's first Terminator: he walks around with a red, glowing eyeball camera embedded in his right socket. He calls himself the "Eyeborg" and has traveled all over the world to speak at conferences about cyborgs and technology, which sometimes includes him recording the audience with his eye and streaming the video onto a giant screen.
Spence's career as an ocular cyborg didn't have the most auspicious start, however: he damaged his eye at age nine trying to shoot a cow pat with a shotgun. "I had my head against the gun, like I saw cowboys doing it in movies..." Spence says. "The gun bucked hard against me, against my face, and while I didn't lose my eye at that point, it was traumatized and I was declared legally blind, despite having some vision in the right eye."
Years later, when he was told he would have to get a glass replacement, Spence started looking into other options—specifically eye cameras. After meeting with a number of engineers and technologists, Spence's first eye was crafted and fitted for his socket. Though he usually wears an eyepatch, he sometimes wears his red, glowing eye in public and shoots video (the battery life is only about thirty minutes). This practice has stirred up some controversy, similar to the kind created by hobbyists with camera-equipped drones.
"There is a competing tension between my right to replace my eye that I lost versus others' rights to privacy," Spence says. "Am I not allowed to put an eye camera in my own body?"
Beyond the concerns over privacy, cyber augmentation brings up a host of other ethical issues regarding human enhancement, including whether all people should have affordable access to life-changing technology. Fittingly, this is exactly what the video game Deus Ex: Human Revolution explores: those who are able to afford cybernetic augmentations in the world of Deus Ex are primarily from the upper class, while poorer, non-augmented humans are increasingly looked down upon.
To hype the release of Human Revolution in 2011, guess who Square Enix called up to make a promo documentary about real-life cybernetic augmentations?
The Eyeborg himself.
You can learn more about Rob Spence here.