January 19, 2020

Lessons From a Teenage Cyborg

““I was born in 2000, I have always lived my life with technology, there hasn’t been any moment without it.” So begins the story of Kai Landre, who recently traveled to the United States from Barcelona to explain his decision to become a cyborg.

Strictly speaking, a cyborg is any human being who incorporates—imports into one’s body—artificial devices or machines. And by that definition, even a person with a pacemaker would qualify. But Landre, a child of the new millennium, means something quite different. He has chosen to be permanently connected to a machine because, he says, it makes him feel more fully himself. He is aware that some may see this as a paradox.

“There are a lot of people who are afraid of stopping being human, so this is what makes people want to turn aside from technology. They think technology doesn’t belong to human nature,” he told me one afternoon in the lobby of a hotel near Gramercy Park, where a documentary crew was waiting to film him. “I consider it a part of our evolution, as we actually created the technology. It came out of our minds.”

Landre plans to install in himself a system of his own design: an apparatus that senses the cosmic rays that surround us, unseen. The device that will soon be implanted in his arm—right now he wears it on his hand—detects and converts those rays into musical notes, which Landre has mapped to the rays’ various frequencies. It converts those notes into the vibrations of a set of metal rods that will one day be implanted with a wireless connection on the surface of his skull.”

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