Born utterly colourblind and so over humdrum greyscale surroundings, what’s a boy to do?
How about a healthy dose of brain modification? They say legally-recognised cyborgs have more fun…
Such was Neil Harbisson’s game plan, who sought out doctors from Eastern Europe and the Iberian Peninsula to give him a cyberkinetic leg up against his troubles with elusive pigments. Kitted out in a surgically-installed chip and an electronic eye that’s become more of an appendage, Harbisson has been hearing colour frequencies since 2004.
Apparently, the in-skull wifi connection’s pretty reliable, too.
Tune into his TED talk — “I Listen to Color” — below, for Harbisson lays out his semi-robotic journey towards self-actualisation better than anyone with just blobs of grey matter in their head could. How he learned the pitches of the rainbow note by note, how he knew his mind really melded with its implant when he began dreaming in vivid colours his eyes could never before register.

You’ll learn he’s privy to lots of audio-visual activities unfathomable to first generation Homo sapiens. For instance, listening to what painted canvases have to say for themselves, being greeted by the wailing symphonies of well-stocked supermarket shelves, eating forkfuls of pop songs off dinner plates, matching unearthly organ pipe tones to celebrity faces, translating immortal speeches into neon-bright gradients, even eavesdropping on the invisible whisperings of the ultra-violet spectrum.
And for those unafraid of the moment when science-fiction becomes reality, up for experimental surgery and keen to know what their eyes, ears, and olfactories are truly capable of, Harbisson is always welcoming would-be bionic beings into his association of aspiring cyborgs.
It’s a sensational new world.
Emily Catrice
 

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