The Mature Runner: And A New World Record For…Cyborgs?!
By David Summerfield
While speaking with a fully documented “senior” BSWD runner (Greg Young, now in his 60’s) I was interested to hear his take on last month’s article. Sorry to get personal Greg … but you read it, and I listen. Greg and I (and others I’m sure) are seriously looking for ways to keep running well, and more than “well,” like being faster than all the other 60-year olds (or whatever age-category you’re in). And Greg divulged that even running well into his 100’s. He’d have a heck of a time breaking any records. In fact, it came out that his streak of strong marathons is perhaps coming to an end…I remember hearing something like “I think the Half Marathon is better for me now.” This explains his interest in any and all methods of running strong (…meaning fast and most probably stronger than he is now). I had mentioned that as the coming technological singularity occurs, the smarter-than-human computers will have figured out how to completely reverse the aging process. And this will include the taking of a wild cocktail of newly invented anti-aging chemicals/pills, as well as having one’s personal DNA sequenced – with the end result being sent a daily “read-out” which is received via smartphone, all thanks to having a monitoring chip in the brain sending constant signals to a lab somewhere. You’ll know what supplements you need to take when you get up the next day by just viewing the app. (How tedious! Isn’t there some software somewhere that can trigger the insertion of pills you need automatically while you sleep, for heaven’s sake!) This simple process will easily correct (or change/modify/eliminate) offending nucleotides or cells, which allow the body to age! An arresting thought! And this is not to just make bodies not age but to eliminate all disease, so the thought of running sub-three hour marathons would be common among us more mature athletes? Isn’t that what all Mature Runners desire? Hmmmm, wouldn’t rules have to be established to keep the playing field fair, or would world records become meaningless at this point?
On the news this week was a story of a 105-year old woman (Julia Hawkins) who broke the world record for the 100-meter dash in 62 seconds (105-110 year category). A retired schoolteacher from Baton Rouge, LA, she was quite upset that she didn’t break one minute.
So, I tried picturing myself running a 100-meter dash. Up here in the Beartooth Mountains, I can jog a 14-minute mile pace for a while (when I’m warmed up, “feeling good,” and on a paved road down in the valley) and that would be a 52.5 second 100-yard dash. Oh, and 105 years is only 30 years away…so keep it up David 🙂 And Greg, you have to not slow down to a 8:25:17 marathon when you’re 100 (Fauja Singh’s record) and at 90 years, you have to beat his 5:40:01. Just how strong is this desire to run faster times for all distances? Suddenly, the ‘ole brain is telling me would it really be THAT bad to have a “smarter-than-human” computer (and don’t call it a robot/AI, that’s too scary!) come up with what we all need? What if the best solution will be to interface one’s physical body with computer technology? I’m referring to having a computer hooked up to my body somehow … besides “just” having chips inserted here and there…so when something in the body triggers a signal at some Medical Terminal Lab which in turn arranges for various serums/chemicals to flow into the bloodstream while I’m sleeping… Wow – if the goal of running strong and well to break records is that important to us humans (and something tells me the human is absolutely capable of allowing this to happen) will we really go that far? Cyborg-land, here we come? Now, that IS scary!
Let me tell you about “scary”! While writing this I remembered a kind of nightmare I’ve had from years ago. It happened while watching Star Trek: First Contact movie 25 years ago. I had forgotten how deeply the character Borg had bored into my psyche. Most of you have watched this movie, but as a memory refresher, Borg uttered the following:
“We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.” (quotes-gram.com/borg-quotes).
I can still hear the Borg’s voice. Chilling. Digging a little deeper, I found some very disturbing facts. Most of us are already cyborgs, by definition. Don’t believe me? This is NOT science fiction. A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, which is a being having both organic and biomechatronic body parts. Or, a person whose physiological functioning is aided by or dependent upon a mechanical or electronic device (Collins English Dictionary). Now that’s getting pretty close to exactly what’s happening more and more these days! I won’t name my friends who have already had artificial body parts put in! Furthermore – a cyborg is a human linked to a mechanical device for life support (Lexic.us). Yes, this happens every day – it happened to my brother! The Oxford Dictionary simply says “a fictional or hypothetical person whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by mechanical elements built into the body”. That makes some articles seem not so far out. My constant use of an iPhone can make me a cyborg. Ingesting ibuprofen to thin my blood which reduces the pain during my physical exertions makes me….a cyborg? I don’t have any artificial limbs or body parts yet, but that’s perfectly normal these days. Wait – I got rid of cataracts by having new lenses put in my eyes. There you go – I’m definitely a cyborg. My physical ability to see was “enhanced” by inserting 2 little non-organic pieces of plastic into my body. Of course, the list goes on, and I doubt there are many (any?) people reading this who are not cyborgs in one way or another. So, we better get used to it, and we just need to refrain from ever saying “Resistance is futile, Earthling”. I really didn’t think this article would go this far when I started. That’s what I get from using a laptop and googling everything I want to know. And, after all, I haven’t agreed to have some high-tech company (see Elon Musk’s TechLink for example) install a port somewhere…like behind my head…so people don’t notice it too much…and once plugged in, it would simplify writing this article, right? Good grief ….