And then there’s my cyborg friend Caleb.
When Caleb and his wife visited recently for dinner, he showed off his new insulin pump, a technological leap forward over what I’d seen before. Increasingly, it does what he needs it to as unobtrusively, and with as little manual involvement as possible. It’s a cybernetic device that keeps him alive and healthy. He’s a cyborg.
Growing up, cyborgs were like lasers — one of those science-fictiony things that were cool in movies but with no bearing on my real life. Today, I carry a laser in my pocket, and I have cyborg friends. These are the days of miracle and wonder.
I say that to say this — My iPhone broke Monday.
Well, technically, it broke, mostly, Saturday or Sunday. But Monday was the point of, “OK, I’ve got to do something about this.”
The home button almost stopped working. I could still use the phone, but it was hard. I could open an app, but it was hard to close it afterward. Initially I became more conservative in my app use. On Monday morning, I tried restoring the software on my phone and, that failing to fix it, I scheduled an appointment at the Apple store.
I worried briefly about what I would do if they were going to need some time to fix the phone; the idea of life without a phone with me seemed uncomfortable. As it was, it took about 10 minutes, maybe, to go in, tell them what was wrong, and get a replacement. Which was a bit sad, as of Monday morning I still owned all three iPhones I’d bought. I remember the day I bought that one, and now it’s gone. Alas.
I’d planned to go straight from the Apple store to run some errands before rehearsal, but realized I needed to go home, instead. Sure, I had a phone, but without syncing it to my computer, it was of limited use. Even with a phone, you can’t call anyone if you don’t know their phone number.
All total, not counting the hardware problem, it was a period of about 24 hours that most of my apps were missing, and it drove home how much, and in how many ways, I rely on the phone.
Caleb’s insulin pump supplements his pancreas. My iPhone supplements my brain. I couldn’t call anyone because I didn’t know any numbers. What used to be a function of my memory has now been offloaded into a cybernetic device.
One researcher estimates that the human brain stores about 3 terabytes of data. The internet supposedly holds about 500 million terabytes. I’m eight orders of magnitude more knowledgeable with my phone than without. I can communicate with my friends without talking to them — I can even know where they are or what they’re doing without making contact at all — giving me rudimentary telepathy. My iPhone not only supplements my brain, it supplements it well beyond human capacity. The iPhone gives me superpowers.
I am a cyborg. And we are the future.