Technology is evolving us, says cyborg anthropologist Amber Case in her 8 minutes of TED. We become a screen-staring, button-clicking new version of homo sapiens, relying on "external brains" (cell phones and computers) to communicate, remember, even live out secondary lives. But will these machines ultimately connect or conquer us? Buckle up for some surprising insight into our cyborg selves.

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  • I've been thinking along these lines lately, specifically about what it means for the near future. I just recently purchased my first smartphone, so this point is being driven home very forcefully. I'm reminded of the mitochondria, a primordial bacteria that used to be an organism unto itself, but now lives inside animal cells as a metabolic power source. The animal cell wasn't the animal cell until it had integrated the mitochondria. Without it, we wouldn't have biology as we know it. The same thing is happening with our computers. They're getting smaller, and we're keeping them closer. Soon, contact lenses will provide a real-time heads-up display, and we also have all these experiments with implanted electronics. Nature has sung this song before. Perhaps we are destined to absorb the machine in the same way the cell absorbed the mitochondria. In the first absorption, metabolic energy turned from a scarce, slow-drip resource into a completely ubiquitous supply. In this new absorption, information itself will become ubiquitous. We can see it happening already.

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