Bring on the Bionics

Bring on the Bionics

Recently Elon musk launched another venture called “Neuralink” with the objective of making cloud based artificial intelligence an extension of the human brain. Merging man and machine is not a new idea by any means but it is a fascinating one. Not for the political and social discussions, but for the unrivalled potential it has of “evolving” the human race. Personally, I think Neuralink has a long way to go before it will become anything tangible and produce results that will be applicable to society. We hardly understand how our own brains work let alone trying to combine them with an outside source and an artificial one for that matter. AI itself is only just finding a place in the world having spent a long time in its own ‘winter’ of painstakingly slow progress and development.

A far more likely merger of man and machine we will see in the coming years is that, not of mind, but of body. Implants such as pace makers have been around for years and things have only improved. Back in 2012 two men had ‘bionic eye’ implants to restore their sight and more recently a 2015 TED talk by Hugh Herr showed him, not only walk, but run, climb and even dance on bionic legs. The advances are just incredible and it will not be long until the devices we build not only replace lost abilities and functions but improve upon them. Bionic implants and limbs will make us stronger, faster and more efficient. Ever since the film iRobot I can’t imagine there is anyone who didn’t wish they had a bionic arm, and herein lies the problem. If it becomes an advantage to have an implant or prosthetic the world as we know it will be turned on its head. It will no longer be a disadvantage to be physically disabled. Voluntary amputations will become common, or at least they will be on the black market as it is not currently legal to do so without a medical need in the UK. I think this is a scenario we will face in the very near future. We cannot just ban the prosthetics, it would deny those who actually need them for the sake of greedy fools. As much of a legal nightmare as these enhancements might be, I very much hope we do not inhibit their development, as I think they have the potential to drastically benefit mankind.

There is actually already a small group of people experimenting with ‘upgrading’ humans. They refer to themselves as Bio-Hackers, currently their work mostly involves attaching magnetics to the body is some way or another. North Sense is a company that for the small fee of $425 will upgrade you with an artificial exo-sense. The implant sits outside the body but is permanently attached to the chest. It allows a person to sense the electromagnetic field of the planet, gently vibrating when facing magnetic north, it gives the wearer an indication of their direction. No matter what your views on the ethics it is certainly provides the ‘upgraded’ humans with a 6th sense.

I think it is inevitable that our human desire to explore, develop and improve will prevail. We will eventually come to embrace human ‘upgrades’ as part of our society.

Author: Christopher Braithwaite

The founder of TMTalks, Christopher, is based in the United Kingdom and writes for the site in his free time. Particular areas of interest include Space, energy, cyber security and block-chain technology.

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