If a man has all his parts replaced by technology, is this still a human?
As a man I lost my chance to love. But was I ever a man in the full human sense? Have I finally physically become the thing I always was mentally? Now I live in a sleepless, dreamless constancy with a brain receiving secondhand sensations, impressions no longer gathered by bones, muscles and nerves but by metals, circuits and wires instead.
I lost a leg to cancer. With the help of my half-brother and robot engineer Lawrence Tieger we replaced it with a polycarbonate prosthetic. Larry holds more patents for artificial organs than anyone but these parts are composed of controversial polycarbonate materials which contain bisphenol A, or BPA, an industrial chemical in use since the 1960s. Profuse contact with BPA has proven to instigate high blood pressure, prostate cancer and brain damage. Using polycarbonates the way Larry did for me went way beyond approved standards. He was risking his career to save my life.
My dilemma continued as I lost my other leg, an arm, then a lung. Each was replaced with the new materials. Reluctantly, Larry continued this bold experiment despite public pressure on his family. Larry was all I had, but a man with a family feared going too far! I could no longer ask it of him.
Still death stalked me, taking another lung then my pancreas, liver, spleen, prostate –a litany so frightening that I gave Larry’s family all I had so they’d never worry again – in order to get Larry to replace everything but my brain; until, finally, even that last part of my organic, original self was too sick to go on. But by then even my brain’s scaffold had been duplicated in nylon and could be replicated for reproduction.
Am I still human? The world calls me Doctor Anatomy.
Now I have records, not memories as I had as a man. I can’t confabulate any more as people often do. Hell, I have to archive data in order to simulate denial!
As a man I dreamed, and daydreamed. So as not to lose the imaginative benefits of such free form thought experimentation, I now schedule periods of random and associative recorded data and live sensory input shuffling. Making that into an acronym, I call these scheduled periods RARDLS, as in “I’m going to RARDL” in place of the comparable “I’m going to sleep.” But even in RARDL I’m conscious of what’s happening around me and capable of reacting instantly. Still, if I’m in the middle of a good RARDL I really don’t like getting interrupted, even though I can replay RARDLS and pick up where I left off later.
As a man I formed habits; but now I allow or terminate routines. Am I still torn on some of those decisions? No. My choices are no longer based upon neurological receptors with genetic reactions. I can disassociate myself instantly with any self-destructive behavior if that behavior is identified.
As a man I suffered disease. Now I experience the occasional system malfunction, in rare cases were a malfunction isn’t diagnosed preemptively and averted.
As a man I needed food. Now I need renewable fusion batteries.
As a man I used instinct. Now I rely on algorithms.
I’m as strong as 25 men and five times faster than the fastest of them. I have telescopic, microscopic and infrared vision. I can generate powerful electromagnetic fields capable of attracting and repelling metal as well as propelling shock waves. I can generate a heat field of 900 degrees at 31 yards. I am resistant to gamma rays and x-rays. I am functional in temperatures up to 239 – 257°F and down to – 176°F. I am absolutely inflammable below 1,000°F. I’m resistant to mineral acids, carbonic, oelic and citric acid, oxidation and reduction agents, neutral and acidic saline solutions, fats and oils, saturated aliphatic and cycloaliphatic hydrocarbons and alcohols, except for methanol. I am a physical bad ass.
Yet I have weaknesses, some as simple as lye, ammonia gas and amines, and my parts are soluble in a number of industrial solvents, not that I’m about to tell which ones. Organic compounds such as benzene, acetone and carbon tetrachloride make me swell and expand. That can be good or bad, depending on circumstances.
To hunger yet reason. To be steel with a heart. To breathe in the rose but still crush the rock.
A man with all his parts replaced by technology is neither a man nor an android. I am a new being with the sensitivities of humanity and the sustainability of technology. I have the indestructibility of titanium and the grace of a dancer. I yearn passionately but calculate coldly.
I am the poet machine.