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Leonid Bershidsky

Got a Smartphone? You're Probably a Cyborg

Humans must learn to take responsibility for their electronic selves. 
Cyborgs in action.
Cyborgs in action.

The Brookings Institution has published a paper arguing that we might all be cyborgs and that it's time for the law to respond to this transformation. I find the argument compelling: We have arrived at a stage where the devices we carry in out pockets, or wear on our wrists, are no less part of our being than they would be if implanted in our bodies.

The paper's authors, Benjamin Wittes and Jane Chong, are not technologists: Wittes writes about law and Chong is a lawyer. Their argument is primarily legal and based in part on the June Supreme Court decision in Riley v. California. In it, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the modern cell phones "are now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy," and so police should not be able to search them without a warrant when making an arrest.