Are we already cyborgs?
Benjamin Wittes and Jane Chong think we're already cyborgs, and so does the US Supreme Court:
In June 2014, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Riley v. California, in which the justices unanimously ruled that police officers may not, without a warrant, search the data on a cell phone seized during an arrest. Writing for eight justices, Chief Justice John Roberts declared that "modern cell phones . . . are now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy."(1)Wittes and Chong offer this example in their very readable article "Our Cyborg Future: Law and Policy Implications (pdf)" (Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings, September 2014). They go on to discuss the larger implications for privacy and our probable reinterpretation of what should be considered "private."
This may be the first time the Supreme Court has explicitly contemplated the cyborg in case law—admittedly as a kind of metaphor. But the idea that the law will have to accommodate the integration of technology into the human being has actually been kicking around for a while.
I've long considered a cyborg to require physical integration of a person and a machine, but a significant number of thinkers disagree with me and consider possession of a smartphone by an individual to mean that that person is already a cyborg. Maybe so, but there's something about physical integration of person and machine that crosses a threshold not crossed by some individual holding a smartphone.
(1) "573 U.S. Supreme Court [Riley v. California] ([June] 2014). Justice Alito wrote a separate opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment."