08 July 2007

The Cyborgs are coming

Last August in Umea, Patrik Hernwall gave a keynote speech on the cyborg citizen, where he claimed that technology is becoming a prosthesis of the 21st century human. His striking example was that of the mobile phone, which liberates our memories from our friends’ and families’ phone numbers. Who nowadays tries to remember phone numbers? We don’t even write them down on pieces of paper anymore, we enter them directly into our machines. Now it seems that the US courts agree with him, considering a laptop as an extension of our minds, as reported in this article in Wired, found through Jill’s blog.

A US citizen travelling back to California found his laptop searched by customs officials, who subsequently found illegal files in the machine. A district judge in California threw out the evidence, claiming that :

"Electronic storage devices function as an extension of our own memory," Judge Dean Pregerson wrote. "They are capable of storing our thoughts, ranging from the most whimsical to the most profound. Therefore, government intrusions into the mind -- specifically those that would cause fear or apprehension in a reasonable person -- are no less deserving of Fourth Amendment scrutiny than intrusions that are physical in nature."

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