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Engineers, Entrepreneurs Hoping To Re-Engineer Humans For Skill, Strength

SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) --During Super Bowl 50, the world saw the Denver Broncos  throttle the Carolina Panthers.  The game's MVP Von Miller dominated Cam Newton in a display of super human strength and skill.

You may not know it, but a growing number of engineers, biohackers and entrepreneurs hopes one day we'll all be super human as well.

A bionic eye may not that far away.

"We will be able to see 100 miles with sheer accuracy we're going to be able to see germs on each other's bodies," exclaimed futurist Zoltan Istvan.

A tiny digital tattoo able to be implanted underneath the skin of your hand is in the works.

"Your identity is on you, embedded in you," explained designer Gadi Amit.

And bio-implants  already being surgically implanted into fingers, allowing users to touch, to sense electromagnetic fields.

"That opens your senses up to something that most people can't feel," said biohacker Ryan O'Shea.

Istvan, Amit, and O'Shea are part of a growing movement: individuals seeking to change life as we know it.

"What if we can make ourselves different make ourselves better?" asked UC Berkeley's Kara Platoni. Platoni who is a science writer, is documenting the explosive developments in the science and technology that are creating new sensory perceptions. Her New Book, "We Have The Technology", follows those who are hacking human evolution.

One radical idea: that our digital devices are no longer just wearable: they are embedded into our bodies.

"We need to get rid of the accessories, we don't want to carry devices, we want the devices built into us," said Istvan.

Istvan founded the Transhumanist Party. The movement seeks to radically improve, transform humans by using bionic limbs, digital implants, even genetic manipulation.

"We're going to keep the very best parts of humanity with us as we slowly merge with machines," said Ivy League-educated businessman.

Istvan is a married father of two young girls. He's now running for President of the United States on a Transhumanist Platform.

He recently hit the campaign trail on a bus that looks like a coffin.

One of his campaign goals is to support and fund scientists who seek to conquer biological death, specifically by stopping or hopefully reversing aging.

"We want to become something that can't be destroyed easily," he explained.

Biohackers at one startup company believe we're well on our way.

"Now technology has caught up to the point that we can now direct our own biological evolution," explained O'Shea.

O'Shea is with Grindhouse Wetware. His group creates technology that seeks to augment human capabilities.

One implant called NorthStar acts like a compass, and mimics bioluminescence.

Another called Circadia is a wireless biometric sensor that records body temperature and sends the data via Bluetooth to the Internet or a smart phone. The Grinders are seeking to add additional functions to the device.

"We're quickly expanding out to blood oxygen, blood glucose, heart rate things that diabetics and other people will really be interested in," said O'Shea.

However there is a concern about privacy. "There's been a lot of discussion about privacy," said Gadi Amit, founder of New Deal Design in San Francisco.

His team is in the midst of developing an amazing concept called "Project Underskin." At the heart of the project is a tiny, implantable digital tattoo. These tattoos will authenticate credit cards, track your location, collect health data, and even allow you to transmit data with a handshake.

"I think just about everyone will eventually want it," said Amit.

These tattoos are designed to have private interfaces that only you can understand, but because the chip will live in you, it will record all your history.

"Who owns that information? Where does it go?" asked Platoni.

Platoni said her investigation of the quest to enhance, improve, and boost human sensory perceptions shows her how the human race is packed with curious individuals who are also seeking to better themselves. But that the technology raises some troubling issues.

"We should start thinking about what these technologies are if we want them and if we do want them, what should they be able to do," said Platoni.

Meanwhile on the campaign trail, Istvan got a chip the size of a grain of rice implanted into his hand. Alas, it's already outdated.

"I have the older chip now. I need to get the upgrade," laughed the candidate.

Even with cyborgs, some things never change.


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