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Biotech Science Technology

Building the Bionic Man 129

nk497 writes "Will we soon be upgrading body parts like the components inside our PCs? 'Human enhancement' technologies are quickly evolving, making it easier to treat health conditions — and make us more powerful. Neural implants are already being used to restore vision, but in the future it could be used to give us better than 20/20 eyesight. Bionic arms will extend beyond prostheses, and be used to help boost our strength — handy for working in a warehouse and for soldiers. 'We use tools all the time to enhance our natural functions, and physical interaction is increasingly usurped by the virtual connections afforded by computers, smartphones and the internet,' said one researcher. 'So connecting these tools directly from the brain is perhaps not so far-fetched.'"
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Building the Bionic Man

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  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @11:29AM (#38877465) Homepage Journal

    I'm a cyborg; the lens in my left eye was replaced by a device called a CrystaLens, which gives it better than 20/20 vision at all distances. After needing thick glasses all my life, not even needing reading glasses at age 60 is nothing short of miraculous.

    However, had I not gotten a steroid-induced cataract that pretty much blinded that eye I'd not had the surgery, mostly because I wouldn't have been able to afford the surgery but partly because, well, would you let someone stick a needle in your eye if it wasn't an emergency and glasses or contacts would do the job?

    All surgey is dangerous. People have died in dentists' chairs. The difference between people and PCs is we can't just unscrew a panel, replace a part, and screw the panel back in. We have knives and needles and danger of infection and other possible complications, machinery doesn't. We have to heal, and often need some sort of therapy after surgery.

    A lot of folks who have had hips, knees, and other joints replaced must suffer additional pain and surgery because of faulty parts; there are several class action lawsuits going on now over defective parts.

    However, rather than bionic parts replacement with enhancements for perfectly healthy body parts (which, as I mention, is dangerous), things like third arms, exoskeletons that allow us to lift hundreds of pounds, are already in development.

    Bionics will most likely be for replacement of existing, faulty human parts rather than enhancing or "upgrading" human tissues unless we get McCoy's knifeless surgery.

  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @12:09PM (#38878009) Homepage Journal

    My bionic implant uses my eye's natural focusing muscle for power, and it works better than YOUR natural, unenhanced eye. And batteries and magnet tech and lower energy needs have been improving greatly over the last few decades. My old Star Tak analog phone lasted a day if I was lucky, my newer Motorola has a smaller battery and lasts several days. I think you're a bit too pessimistic.

    And this IS science fiction turned reality -- we're in the 21st century, man! When Star Trek first came on the air when I was 14, there were no communicators (cell phones), flat screen displays, iPads (or "padds"), doors that opened automatically, McCoy's medical readouts (which we've surpassed), voice-activated computers (my Acer has that feature), space shuttles... to young folks there's nothing futuristic about STOS except the transporter, faster than light travel, and matter replicators. Back then it was all impossible fantasy.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter