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Cyborgs and Lip Filler

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Just a bird.
Note: This is a reupload of a post I published on a previous iteration of this blog sometime in 2020 (exact date lost to the ether).

Transhumanism is a philosophical movement that advocates for the transformation of the human condition by developing and making widely available sophisticated technologies to greatly enhance human intellect and physiology. (From Wikipedia).

I spoke to a friend today about the latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars that recently aired. This, of course, got me thinking about body modification and cyborgs. I never intend to end my conversations about drag with discussions about transhumanism but here we are.

Image from the Cyberpunk 2077 world premiere trailer (2018) -

When most people think of transhumanism, I imagine that they think of the extreme end; cyborgs and/or release from a physical body. The first cyborgs that spring to my mind are the vol-amps from Limbo by Bernard Wolfe. Or the concept of sleeves from Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon. This assumption is not incorrect, as cyborgs do come under the transhuman umbrella. But, I suggest that cosmetic surgery (even ‘low-tech’ minimally invasive options) can be viewed as a smaller step towards a less fleshy future.

Saying all of this, I currently wouldn’t get any plastic surgery done myself. Am I ‘bioconservative’? I had short-lived dreams of being a plastic surgeon or neurologist when I was younger. I am actively interested in BCI, prosthetics, implants (see: Neuralink) and cybernetic enhancements. So I don’t think it’s that. There are two reasons for the conflict with my arguably pro-transhuman interests. Firstly, I think there is a lot of pressure on people (disproportionately women) to get cosmetic surgery and then militantly cover up evidence of said surgery. I would prefer to support modification that is shown for what it is without stigma. This goes hand in hand with the fear of it not looking ‘natural’. I understand the reasoning, but it seems to add further to this pressure.

The second reason is that cosmetic surgery is limited by medical knowledge, and heavily scoped by beauty trends. Currently you can’t change to look much different than your starting point. And typically the goal is symmetry, or to fall within the bounds of a hegemonized standard of beauty. I’m not saying everyone’s ideal should be to look like a fish-human-bird hybrid (unless that’s what you’re into, in which case; fair game). But, there seems to be little room for experimentation, body parts are not easily replaceable if things go wrong, and accurately predicting end results is difficult. Although saying that, I recently discovered Vectra3d, which is a very cool-looking predictive imaging system.

Minorly unrelated to those thoughts, I searched the global Google trends for ‘lip filler’, which resulted in this plot.

I searched for ‘lip filler’ as it is a common and accessible surgery. The United Kingdom fared the highest in popularity, and related search terms include ‘lip filler before and after’ and ‘lip filler near me’. This is not a particularly rigorous study, but the trend is in line with my observations that people have been talking about about cosmetic surgery more, and more casually at that. I feel at this point it has almost been ingrained into the beauty industry’s nomenclature.

To conclude, although I agree with cosmetic surgery from a theoretical perspective the practical applications right now don’t appeal to me. However I want to develop my opinion on this further, so I’m going to start hunting for more sci-fi centering around cyborgs and/or surgery.