Travel anywhere outside the United States and the name of Nikola Tesla is known. Ask the average person on an American sidewalk? They’re apt to recall the 80’s rock band. Or they’ll nod and mumble about Elon Musk’s motor company.
When Black Mirror first hit television screens in 2011, it was a quintessentially British creation. Episode 1, The National Anthem, shows an upstanding prime minister blackmailed into live sexual intercourse with a pig. The public responds with cynicism and ironic detachment, mocking the man on twitter, as the media scrambles for a scoop. The episodes that followed continued the condemnation of British culture – Brooker had given us a black mirror, reflecting us at our very worst. In Fifteen Million Merits he showed us powering the workings of an authoritarian regime, bombarded by advertising with an X-factor style talent show our only means of salvation. In White Bear, the justice system has been replaced by a sickening spectacle of psychological torture, with amnesiac criminals forced to relive their crimes, as children watch on. In The Waldo Moment, he shows a disaffected public voting a foul-mouthed CGI bear into office, rather than careerist politicians. The result is a degeneration into violence and fascism.
In a recent Omni article, "New Words Were Needed," I looked at some of the commonalities between modernism and science fiction. After inventorying some of the ways science fiction transposes modernist formal concerns to the level of story, I wrote, "And those are just some of the techniques of modernism; I won't even mention postmodernism."
Our country’s pharmaceutical industry demands rigorous testing of potential drug agents, human trials that sometimes drag on for weeks or months. Test subjects must often monotonously return to get blood drawn, abstain from normal activity, or keep meticulous notes about their side effects. But, at the end of the trial, it’s a quick couple thousand dollars in your pocket. This is precisely the kind of work that draws those on the margins of society, those who are willing to dose themselves with the latest psychiatric concoction and live in a confined clinic for a few weeks. And we need them—these guinea pigs. Without reliable test subjects, America doesn’t get its drugs.
Imagine a world where there was no organ donor waiting list. A world where you would be able to get the organ you needed straight from a printer. According to Quartz, a Philadelphia-based company, BioBots, has released a printer that lets users 3D print human tissue and (potentially) human organs. In May of 2014, BioBots publicly launched at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York and printed a replica of Van Gogh’s ear for everyone to see. Currently, the printer works with a liquid mixture of different cells called “bio-ink.” This liquid is pressed through an extruder and fused together on the printer bed using blue light. A representative from the company told Quartz that the system could print out an object that has blood vessels and organ tissue at once, and the goal is to use this to create livers for drug testing and skins for cosmetic testing. This would eliminate the need for testing on humans and animals. However, BioBots isn’t the only company to create 3D printing for organs.
Would you get a chip implanted in your skull that would allow you to surf the web in your mind? Would you cryogenically freeze yourself to heal life-threatening wounds? These are examples of transhumanism, or the transformation of the human condition by incorporating technology with the goal of improving humankind and perhaps providing the answer to death. The closest we have gotten to transhumanism today is the world’s most extensive face transplant which took place on November 16th, 2015. A forty-one-year-old firefighter from Mississippi was severely burned, but received a face transplant from a 26-year-old man who recently died in an extreme cycling accident. The 26-hour surgery was performed by a 150-person medical team from New York University Langone Medical Center. Not as extensive as the half-human half-robots in the best transhumanist books, but impressive by current technological standards.
Bionic humans are increasingly popular in today’s pop culture and society. Ignoring the far-fetched likes of Black Ops III, the third in the Black Ops series by the Call of Duty game series, or movies like Terminator, bionic humans have become a reality—kind of. So what is classed as a "bionic human"?
"He’s more machine now than man."
There are countless portals through which one can access transhumanism and sex. However, it is through Kanamara-sama Shrine that a uniquely Japanese version can be connected to the fiction style of sexpunk.