Michael Chorost (pronounced like “chorus” with a T at the end) is a technology theorist with an unusual perspective: his body is the future. In 2001 he went completely deaf and had a computer implanted in his head to let him hear again. This transformative experience inspired his first book, Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human. He wrote about how mastering his new ear, a cochlear implant, enabled him to enhance his creative potential as a human being. The critics agreed; in 2006 Rebuilt won the PEN/USA Book Award for Creative Nonfiction. Shortly afterward it was reprinted in paperback under the new titleRebuilt: My Journey Back to the Hearing World.
Dr. Chorost earned his B.A. at Brown University and studied computer programming, Renaissance drama, and cultural theory on the way to his Ph.D. at UT-Austin. He doesn’t draw sharp lines between programming, science, writing, and art; to him, these are all profoundly creative human endeavors. This freewheeling approach infuses his second book, World Wide Mind: The Coming Integration of Humanity, Machines, and the Internet. In this book he ups the ante, proposing that humanity can incorporate the computer into its collective soul in a way that enhances communities and creative work instead of diminishing them.
After graduate school he worked briefly for Scient, a dot-com in San Francisco, and then spent 4 1/2 years doing research in education at SRI International in Menlo Park, California.
As a freelance science writer he has written for Wired, The Washington Post, Technology Review, and The Scientist, among others. He wrote the screenplay for a TV special on brain implants titled The 22nd Century, which aired on PBS in January 2007. He sits on external advisory boards for neuroscience research at Northwestern and Brown. He has given over 150 lectures at institutions such as Google, MIT, Stanford, Brown, the Brookings Institute, and the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco.
Dr. Chorost was born in New Jersey and has lived in North Carolina, Texas, and California. In 2008 he moved to Washington D.C., where he now lives with his wife and their two cats Harper and Posy. Sadly, their cat Elvis, who was a major presence in Rebuilt, died on February 17, 2012 at a ripe old age.
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Video/audio clips of some of my talks/interviews
In March 2013 I gave a talk at the LIbrary of Congress, which went very well and was very well-filmed, so I recommend seeing this clip first: How To Put Your Brain on the Internet. It’s also captioned.
In April 2013 I gave a talk on Your Brain on the Internet (link goes to C-SPAN) on a panel at the Conference on World Affairs.
In August 2012 I was interviewed by the radio show Skeptically Speaking. Audio file is here. It was a fun interview, ranging widely over topics connected to my book WORLD WIDE MIND.
In November 2011 I gave a lecture at the International Society of Neuroethics, in which I tried out some new ideas for my third book. The Youtube video is here.
Here’s a video in which I talk about learning to hear with a cochlear implant. This was done by the Exploratorium in San Francisco around 2008.
An interview with me by Spencer Striker of TechZombie, May 16, 2012.
A version of my “How to Put Your Brain on the Internet” lecture, given at Georgia Tech on March 12, 2012.
A book reading I gave for Rebuilt, July 11, 2005, University Book Store, Seattle, Washington.
A talk I gave at Authors@Google, June 30, 2008, Mountain View, California.
My author video for WORLD WIDE MIND, made by Simon & Schuster, Feb. 2, 2011, New York City.
An interview with me on a PBS Newshour story on prosthetic devices, June 28, 2011.
An interview with me on TV RAIN, a Russian Internet TV channel, July 15, 2011, Moscow. I’m told the interpreter didn’t do such a great job, but at least I’m talking in English.
An interview with me on the Hungarian TV series Babel, April 28, 2012, in which I appear from 7:45 to 13:10. If you ever wanted to hear me dubbed in Hungarian, here’s your chance.
Articles in which I’m quoted
PBS Newshour, Will ‘Bionic Bodies’ Offer High-Tech Hope to the Disabled?, June 28, 2011. I’m on from minute 7:40 to 8:30.
San Francisco Chronicle, Humans hope high tech can improve their bodies, January 1, 2009.
The Economist, Sounds like a good idea, March 2008.
New York Times, Robo-Legs, June 20, 2005.
Articles in which I’m profiled
IT Business Edge, Integrating Humans and Computers – Is There a Spiritual Dimension?, Feb. 20, 2011.
More Digital, Endless possibilities: the Michael Chorost interview, Feb. 28, 2011.
Silicon.com, Cyborg brains: The next evolutionary step, Feb. 28, 2011.
U.S. News & World Report, Learning to Love Being Part Computer, July 13, 2005.