Has technology become such an integral part of what it means to be human that we are now actually cyborgs, part organic and apparently part digital? The U.S. Supreme Court seems to think so.
Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority in the crucial cell phone privacy decision observed that your cell phone could be considered "an important feature of human anatomy."
Cyborg is short for "cybernetic organism," that is, a being with both organic and bio-integrated electronic parts. It is a term that was coined in 1960 by Manfred Clynes and Nathan S. Kline. Cyborgs have long been a science fiction staple, but recently have become literal reality with medical innovations, for example, to help those with spinal cord injuries.
One startling aspect of this new ruling, however, is to suggest that your smartphone is not merely a part of your practical life, but also of your spiritual life.
To counter the state of California's argument that any digital data should be searchable, one of the young lawyers who worked on the case found a confession app used to tally up sins. In his ruling for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts noted there are apps "for sharing prayer requests." "The average smartphone user has installed 33 apps, which together can form a revealing montage of the user's life," Roberts wrote.
This raises the question: If I can store sins and prayers, how much has my smartphone become a part of my spiritual life, even of my soul?
This Supreme Court ruling has far reaching implications for protecting privacy in the age of super snooping by government agencies. But it also has profound implications for contemplating the future of human nature and its development not merely in a technological age, but as integrated into the technology itself.
We all know the horror scenarios of violent, militarized cyborgs that up until now have been the stuff of science fiction. This is likely to be the literal future of war, however, where technology becomes more and more integrated into not only the battlefield, but literally into the warrior. The vast development of drone technology suggests that the future of war will be robotic and it truly suggests a horror show.
Yet, this Supreme Court decision may be pointing out how this kind of technology can also extend and enhance human connectivity and even spirituality in a way that must be protected from intrusion.
Perhaps the future of smart technology is not all super soldiers, but could also be enhanced capacity for spiritual development.
It is an intriguing thought.