Secret Life of a Full-Time Cyborg
Steve Mann invented a precursor to Google Glass in the 1990s—which he now uses almost 24/7. But “the father of wearable computing” has an ominous warning about where technology is taking us next.
Standing in the University of Toronto’s Humanistic Intelligence Lab may be the closest thing to being inside Dr. Steve Mann’s head. The lab is divided into two rooms, each crammed with circuit boards, soldering irons, and computers from the bygone era of floppy discs and dial-up modems. Stacks of boxes filled with manuals, prototypes, tools and other electronics nearly reach the ceiling, and spread all around are esoteric devices like the Model 300A Harmonic Wave Analyzer and the Krohn-Hite 3202 Dual Channel Variable Filter – both more than seventy years old. Pioneering scientists once used these contraptions to measure sound and light waves. They arguably belong in a museum.
For Mann, a tenured professor at the school, the anachronistic mess is deliberate. “Since childhood, I’ve been fascinated with how things work, and thus surrounded myself with things like lock-in amplifiers, cathode-ray oscillographs, and the like,” he says. “To lead a team to invent the futu…
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