About

Freeing our minds, then freeing our bodies.

Celebrate and support those with prosthetics, orthotics, implants, transplants, augmentations, performance enhancements, body mod, quantified selves, wearable tech, and more!

Borg Fest is a cyborg festival and celebration for an intentional community of people interested in human augmentation, performance enhancement, body modification, and wearable technology. It’s a cultural, entertainment, education, and pride event  Many of the participants will themselves have been augmented as a result of accident, injury, war, congenital defect, illness, or disease.  Others may have been augmented for personal, professional, artistic, stylistic, philosophical, political, or religious reasons.  Some of the participants are industry and academic leaders in the fields that provide products and services to this community.  Amidst the celebration, key conversations will occur, critical contacts made, relationships formed, ideas crystalized, companies started, concepts demonstrated, and people helped.

It’s time to quit limiting the bounds of humanity with pointless purity tests for naturalness, gender, age, or tech. Everything we make becomes us. We are our environment. We are the embodiment of the sum total of our knowledge and experience. When we face catastrophe, we want to summon the best response that our civilization can offer. We are no longer interested in arbitrary limits on our performance. We want to be the fastest, smartest, most adaptable that we can be. And we understand that this realization can be frightening, even threatening, to some and presents ethical challenges that question the very nature of what it means to be human. In the spirit of our communal self-discovery, we need your help breathing life into BorgFest–a cyborg festival and expo on human augmentation, performance enhancement, body modification, and wearable technology. Together, we will celebrate the cyborgs among us.

Here are some of the questions we’re interested in:

At what point will prosthetic capabilities exceed those of the human parts they replace?

What are the ethical ramifications arising from augmentations providing advantages to the recipient?

What limits, if any, should be placed on elective amputation, implantation, transplantation, and other invasive augmentation?

Are pharmaceutical and dietary/nutritional supplements bona fide forms of prosthetics/orthotics?

Essential versus Elective: How do we determine the limits of mandatory healthcare coverage for limb replacement, hormone therapy, gender reassignment, breast reduction, cosmetic plastic surgery, and other controversial procedures?

What are the challenges for enabling a cost-savings market of previously-owned prosthetics and orthotics?

What are the challenges facing DIY (do it yourself) prosthetics, body hacking/”grinding”?

Interested?  Let us know and receive email updates on early-bird registration discounts, event details, logistics, participation opportunities, VIP guests, news, and more.

I’M INTERESTED!

FAQ

What is a “cyborg” and why should I be interested?

The word cyborg was coined in 1960 and refers to a cybernetic organism.  Cybernetics is the science of communication and automatic control systems in both machines and living things.  Over time, cyborg has come to mean people (and animals) enhanced, augmented or assisted by any technology such as, but not limited to,  prosthetics, orthotics, implants, transplants, pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements, or wearable tech.  Sometimes the terms borg and cyborg are interchangeable.  Many of us are cyborgs today and have questions, concerns, and real needs that need to be addressed like insurance coverage, product safety, workplace and school discrimination, social acceptance, religious and ethical concerns, and legal considerations.  These topics are just a few.

There’s a lot of interesting and important work being done in the various disciplines that affect cyborgs.   The purpose of Borg Fest is to bring together the different cyborg communities and their support networks of professional providers and vendors to have a grand conversation on  “how do we make life better for ourselves?”  Check out our interest form to get a feel for the various communities we have in mind.  Our goal is to extend invitations to a well-balanced group of participants representative of our diverse cyborg community.

Who will attend Borg Fest?

Borg Fest is a celebration for an intentional community of people interested in human augmentation and enhancement.  Many of the participants will themselves have been augmented as a result of accident, injury, war, congenital defect, illness, or disease.  Others may have been augmented for personal, professional, artistic, stylistic, philosophical, political, or religious reasons.  Some of the participants are industry and academic leaders in the fields that provide products and services to this community.  Others are government regulators and elected or appointed officials that shape the public policy affecting this community.  There may also be critics and those concerned with safety, ethics, and morality.  Amidst the celebration, key conversations will occur, critical contacts made, relationships formed, ideas crystalized, companies started, concepts demonstrated, solutions marketed, questions answered, and people will be helped.

Will Borg Fest be a freak show?

No.  Borg Fest is a celebration based on better living through respect, understanding, and collaboration.

Do people like being called “borgs” or “cyborgs”?

Today, there isn’t yet a good word that readily describes all the kinds of people and the various forms of augmentations they have made to their bodies.  The politics of identity sometimes make it difficult for different groups of people to rally around a common name.  Consider “Negro,” “Colored,” “Black,” “African-American,” as well as “homosexual,” “queer,” and “gay” or even “cripple,” “disabled,” “handicapped,” “handi-capable,” and “differently abled.”  These are just three examples where groups have struggled with a term that fit best with their identity.  Clearly, it’s important to allow groups to transition from one name to another as their identity and society changes.

What is Borgtown and why the sci-fi references?

Borgtown is the fictitious place in Austin, Texas where the event will be held.  Science fiction has long captured our imaginations and has prompted us to develop real-world technologies and perspectives.  Sci-fi provides us with a safe harbor or alternate reality to explore complex subjects and experiment with the answers.  Sci-fi gives us the first cyborgs such as “The Six Million Dollar Man” (1973) and “The Terminator” (1984) and it’s clear that these examples have influenced the development of modern day cyborgs.  The influence of science fiction and its use as a tool for imagining “what if” cannot be underestimated.  Borgtown will help us imagine “what if”.  It will be a stylized, futuristic Asian setting that will be a refreshing and exciting break from sterile hotel ballrooms and convention center conference rooms!

See also “Why Today’s Inventors Need to Read More Science Fiction.”

When is Borgfest?

Borgfest takes place year around as a series of mini-events designed to convene our communities around special topics of interest and raise funds and sponsorships for the main festival.   Most of the events take place in Austin, but we are interested in collaborating with you to hold an event in your town!

See our Events page to get notifications and see a list of past events.

What is the purpose of the interest form?

The purpose of the interest form is to help us understand the demand for the festival in terms of who is interested, how many are interested, and what their interest is.  It will help us scope the event and balance the participation pool by extending invitations based on your areas of interest.

We’ll add more FAQs as they come up.

Want to stay in the loop?  Let us know and receive email updates on early-bird registration discounts, event details, logistics, participation opportunities, VIP guests, news, and more.

I’M INTERESTED!

 

2 Responses to About

  1. C.J. Shultz says:

    Mr. MacKinnon,

    I’m contacting you from Techzette.com, an Austin-based tech journal focused on telling the stories of different startups in the city. Steve Golab referenced me to your site. I’m very interested in discussing Borgfest with you further and possibly doing a brief article featuring your work.

    Please contact me if you are interested in setting up a time to interview.

    Best,

    C.J. Shultz
    Editor-in-Chief, Techzette.com

    • borgfest says:

      Hi Carl! Thanks for reaching out. I’m in London for the Cybersalon on Human Enhancement Technologies and I’ll be back in Austin for SXSW. If you like, we can meet at Golab during SXSW or after. Would love to talk to you about Techzette and Borg Fest.

      –r
      Rich MacKinnon, founder
      Borg Fest

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