(CBS Local)– Thousands of people around the world have brain implants, but it still isn’t something that is frequently discussed in our society.
Filmmakers Taryn Southern and Elena Gaby are looking to change that with their new documentary “I Am Human.” The doc is premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival this week and dives into the world of brain implant technology and how it changed the lives of three people in particular.
“This is better than science fiction, there are several hundred thousand people walking around with brain implants,” said Southern in an interview with CBS Local. “The first cyborgs are here. Being able to tell that story, which hasn’t been told, was very exciting for us. Obviously the technology is fascinating, but who are the faces of this technology and how do we tell their stories.”
Southern and Gaby have known each other for two years and talked to neuroscientists, researchers at top universities studying the technology and patients with brain implants. Gaby considered all of these things when putting the film together.
“Not only did the technology have to be fascinating and cutting edge for the neuroscience community, but it also had to have this potential for impact on an individual scale and a massive societal scale,” said Gaby. “The biggest questions were how are these individual human beings going to grapple with the questions that come up the minute they are introduced to these options. The more interesting technologies for us were the ones that not only presented an advancement in the science field, but also a societal or family question.”
The three people that grapple with these questions are a paralyzed man named Bill, who hopes to regain movement after a bike accident, a former artist named Anne with degenerative Parkinson’s, and a blind man named Stephen. The filmmakers saw a wide range of responses from these subjects.
“Some people were enthusiastic about this leap forward that they can take and this idea that they could restore a part of their humanity that they thought they lost,” said Southern. “While others were more reluctant. You’ll see these individual questions that will be posited the second you undergo brain surgery.”
“I Am Human” is at the Tribeca Film Festival May 2, May 3, and May 4.