How close are we to a “fully bionic body?” I would venture to say that depends who you ask. One thing I am absolutely certain of is that the farther away from government you ask the question, the longer the time you'll receive in your answer. To anyone that follows this type of research much, it will come as no surprise that just a few sentences into the article the name DARPA comes up. Just prior to the mentioning of DARPA, the article says:
“The distinction between man and machine has never been less, well, distinct… This week saw the introduction of the first prosthetic hand that can successfully enable its user to feel following electrodes being inserted into the motor and sensory cortexes.”
Months ago I posted an article titled, DARPA is Getting Closer to an Iron Man Suit, so I think it's safe to say DARPA probably already has “bionic parts.” DARPA has always been known for its commitment to unorthodoxy — no concept is too far out those folks. NO CONCEPT!
DARPA has no big labs with huge budgets, but rather everything is farmed out to universities or small private corporations instead. Dare I say that by keeping an exceptionally decentralized approach, and by allowing smaller private corporations to do much of the work, some might argue DARPA walks a very thin ethical line at times. While there is no way to put a definitive number on it, typical estimates of how far in advance black op programs can be, versus the modern day private sector equivalent, usually start at around 30 years ahead.
To quote the former head of DARPA Regina Dugan, she once said regarding her time with the agency, “We got to do a lot of epic shit when I was at DARPA,.” I bet she did based on what she’s doing now. As I type this, Regina Dugan is now the head of Research and Development for Google, and she is working on Dog or Wolf-Like Robots as well as Humanoid Robots That Can Hunt Down Humans Through the Woods.
GOOGLE NEEDS THOSE WHY AGAIN?
The real question we should be asking, is not how close we are to a fully bionic body, but rather what ethics are guiding this line of research. Already Hollywood has done its job of “conditioning” the public about half man, half machine creatures with blockbusters like The Terminator series. Once the public has softened on the concept of introducing machinery into mankind, then the concepts from the silver screen get “sold” to the public as a humane thing to do. Synthetic limbs and organs will be referred to as a means to extend the quality of one’s life for people with disabilities or disease. We’ll be told the technology is all there to “help’ people.
DO NOT DRINK THE KOOL-AID!
Anyone who read, What the Media Won’t Dare Reveal to You About Jade Helm, knows that the war of the future will be for information. Half man, half machine ideas are already being proposed with concepts like Internet Brain Implants That Can Provide a Person with “God-Like” Super Intelligence. It hardly ends there. U.S. ally South Korea has implemented Fully Autonomous Killer Robots to Patrol DMZ. Have you seen these things? If you recall ED-209 from the first Robocop movie, this new technology (below) should look very familiar.
SORRY TO BE A NEGATIVE NED, BUT WHILE IT WOULD CERTAINLY BE INTERESTING TO KNOW HOW FAR OFF THE PRIVATE SECTOR IS FROM A FULL BIONIC BODY, GIVEN THE DANGER OF THE TIMES THAT WE LIVE IN, I AM MUCH MORE INTERESTED IN FINDING OUT WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR OVERSIGHT OF SUCH TECHNOLOGY!
Prosthetic hands that can feel. Robotic penises that can fully function. Welcome to the age of the bionic body.
The year is 2015 and our bodies are very, very different. The loss of a limb no longer means living in a world of restricted movement: We are now in an age of highly developed exoskeletons, glow-in-the-dark prosthetic appendages, and motorized members.
The distinction between man and machine has never been less, well, distinct.
In the last few months alone, reams of cutting edge technology able to revolutionize the human body have been released, opening up new possibilities for the way we live. This week saw the introduction of the first prosthetic hand that can successfully enable its user to feel following electrodes being inserted into the motor and sensory cortexes.
The recipient, a 28-year-old man who had been paralyzed for more than a decade, was able to sense when the fingers of the hand were touched, as well as to control it using his mind. The recipient was able to identify—when blindfolded—which finger was being touched at any one time with almost 100 percent accuracy and, when two fingers were pressed without his knowledge, the man “responded in jest asking whether somebody was trying to play a trick on him,” according to Justin Sanchez, program manager of the U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). “That is when we knew that the feelings he was perceiving through the robotic hand were near-natural.”
This progression in hand prosthetics isn’t only limited to those requiring invasive surgeries. Open Bionics, winners of the 2015 Tech4Good Awards, are behind a new wave of affordable hand replacements created using 3D printing. The company seeks to provide a low cost alternative to the industry’s pricier models—a bionic hand can set you back some $100,000, compared to their $3,000 charge. “All of the advanced technology is so expensive that no one can really afford to use it,” explains COO Samantha Payne. “Bionic technology is really life changing—it enables people to have far greater independence and quality of life, and also affects their psychology. Amputees tell us that when they have a bionic hand, it helps them feel whole again.”
Where Open Bionics is really taking things in a new direction, though, is in its designs, Payne says. “We think the future is celebrating individuality—if you weren’t born with a hand, why pretend you have one? We can make you a hand in your favorite color, or have pictures of your family on it, and make it do extra things that normal hands can’t like glow at night and play music. You wouldn’t wear the same t-shirt seven days in a row—you pick out clothes that reflect your personality: It seems obvious to me that amputees want the same choice with their prosthetics.”
That sense of personalization will undoubtedly prove popular as other bionic body parts become increasingly prevalent.
Mohammed Abad, 43, from Edinburgh, Scotland made headlines last month after receiving an 8-inch bionic penis following a horrific childhood accident in which he was dragged 600 feet under a car, resulting in his appendage being torn off. After 100 operations, Abad now has two tubes along its length, which can be inflated and filled with liquid from his stomach when he presses a button located on his testicle—a procedure that began some three years ago. Created using skin from his forearm, the new addition isn’t without its glitches—Abad revealed he had an erection for two weeks following the surgery—the easily deflatable prosthetic has given him a sense of sexual confidence until then unknown. “I didn’t want to speak to anybody, I just wanted to get myself away from everybody,” he said of life before the 11-hour final operation. “But now I’ve been through it, I’m comfortable with it. It’s totally changed my life,” he told daytime TV show This Morning on Monday.
Abad’s surgery is a more preliminary version of osseointegration, a procedure being billed as the biggest bionic frontier. The process involves structures being surgically implanted into the area in which the prosthesis is needed, growing around the bone and tissue to create a more organic, integrated limb. Though it is currently not widely used for loss of limb replacement, as relatively few doctors are able to carry it out, its ability to employ prosthetics from the inside has become popular, particularly among soldiers who have gone through post-combat amputations.
Zac Vawter had a very similar type accidenet and in the video below, you can see that Zac lost his lower leg in a motorcycle accident four years ago, and after years in a regular prosthetic leg, he's testing the first one controlled by brainwaves. The Army-funded research could improve the lives of the more than 1,200 soldiers and approximately one million Americans who have lower leg amputations. Dr. Jon LaPook reports.
Amputees control bionic legs with their thought
It’s evident that these technologies are aimed at those who have suffered the devastating loss of a limb, but these innovative treatments pose an ethical quandary: Might people opt for voluntary removal of a hand, or leg, if it could be replaced with an even more functional bionic one? It remains to be seen, but with the field progressing at a rapid rate, such an eventuality may not be too far off the horizon.
The field of prosthetics may no longer be faced with the question of whether it can fill the corporeal gaps caused by amputations or birth defects, but whether creating a bionic body is the best option of all.
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