Life As A Cyborg!It's 2050: are you still completely human? Read on to find out what you are missing in life...
Experience A Much Richer World:
Wire up your brain to accept all kinds of input, beyond your current five senses. See the "colours" of an X-Ray, "smell" an infrared signal!
Control Yourself Via A Computer:
Using brain implants, you can unite with a computer that stores all your experiences. You can then play them back when you wish, truly reliving each moment!
Have Infinite Knowledge:
A global consortium of supercomputers awaits! Everyone's experiences and knowledge are stored inside this collective. Log in to absorb knowledge and relive others' experiences!.
Mini-Me: Instead of a companion computer that resembles a metallic box, why not employ a clone instead! With a computer instead of a brain in his skull-send him out on a mission, and experience the dangers of life through him without jeopardising yourself.
When a body part malfunctions or drops below a specific performance level, your trusty Mini-Me will remind you that you need to have a servicing done. Even if your brain starts dying, create a clone, upload data from your old brain to your new one and live on through the new brain and body.
Warwick's team would attempt this exercise with emotional signals as well. When he was happy, they would record the signal. Then, when his mood changed the next day, they would play the happy signal back, to try and cheer him up. Similarly, the team wanted to see whether signals such as ultraviolet, ultrasound, and X-rays sent to the implant, would be capable of being processed by Warwick's brain.
The electrode-array experiment in 2002 was successful, and the signal produced was detailed enough for a robot arm to be able to mimic the actions of Warwick's arm! Also, using the neural interface, Warwick controlled an electric wheelchair and an intelligent artificial hand. The implant was able to measure nerve signals transmitted down Warwick's arm, and was also able to create artificial sensation.
Warwick's experiments and ideas are worth noting because he is not only a professor and researcher; he is also an actual cyborg, by virtue of his implants.
There has been no dearth of criticism about Warwick, though-for example, why didn't he do something more interesting with his first implant than control equipment?
The Artificial Heart
October 2004, federal regulators approved use of an artificial heart, marking the first time a mechanical device has been made widely available to replace a failing human organ. In contrast with early hopes of permanently replacing an ailing heart with a man-made pump, the new device substitutes for the bottom half of the heart and can be used only to sustain critically ill patients in the hospital, until they can get a heart transplant.
The CardioWest Total Artificial Heart offers hope to Americans who would otherwise die each year without it. "It's a milestone," said Robert Jarvik, whose Jarvik-7 heart caused a world buzz when it was implanted in Barney Clark in 1982.
Wire Your Brain To The NetRodney Brooks, a leading roboticist and Professor of Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has said, "Direct neural control of complex machines is a long-term US military goal. DARPA has a brain-machine interface program aimed at creating next-generation wireless interfaces between neural systems and, initially, prosthetics and other biomedical devices." Brooks, who is also Director of the MIT AI Lab, goes on to say that the brain-Internet interface is not as far off as we think. Imagine that-broadband to your brain! (Visit http:// snipurl.com/bjvk to see the full article.)
For a roundup of some exciting brain implant research, head to http:// snipurl.com/bjvl.
Time Machine500 BC: Earliest known written reference to an artificial limb
300 BC: Capri, Italy. In 1858, a copper and wood leg dating from 300 BC unearthed
1863: Improvements to the attachment of artificial limbs
1898: Dr Vanghetti invents an artificial limb that moves through muscle contraction
1946: Major advancement in the attachment of lower limbs
1954: The first kidney transplant in Boston by Joseph Murray; also the first successful human organ transplant
1962: First breast implants
1963: First liver transplant; the patient dies within a few days
1966: First pancreas transplant, immediately after the transplant, patient's blood sugar level begins to fall
1967: First successful liver transplant. The liver functions for 13 months
1978: Rod Saunders implanted with the first research multi-channel cochlear implant
1982: Graham Carrick implanted with the first commercially-available 22-channel nucleus cochlear implant
1982: Dr Barney Clark implanted with the Jarvik-7, an artificial heart intended to last a lifetime. Patient survives 112 days
1988: First successful liver-bowel Transplant. A liver and six metres of intestine transplanted
1989: First combination heart, liver and kidney Transplant. Surgeons transplant a heart, liver, and kidney into a 26-year-old woman.
2000: "Smart" legs-entire smart lower limbs, with digital control systems-expected to be on the market after two years
2000: "Jerry," blind after a blow to his head 36 years prior, regains his ability to see thanks to an artificial eye. Jerry sees a simple display of dots that outline an object
2001: First completely self-contained artificial heart transplant
2003: The world's first brain prosthesis-an artificial hippocampus-is tested. Unlike devices such as cochlear implants, which merely simulate brain activity, this chip implant performs the same processes as the damaged part of the brain it is replacing
What It Boils Down To...So what does all this research amount to? What do Warwick's experiments, DeMarse's rat brain-controlled flight simulator, Karniel's lamprey-controlled robot and the remote-controlled cockroach have in common?
Apart from scientific curiosity, it is evolution. Human evolution has hit a plateau; we have reached the limit of interaction with the universe-you cannot move a cup just by thinking about it. Telekinesis may be beyond our reach, but biological cybernetics isn't. It is biological cybernetics that allows Warwick's computer to respond when he enters the room, or lets a disembodied brain, or parts of a brain, control a robot or a flight simulator.
As our brains develop, our bodies and the universe around us become bottlenecks. Soon we won't have to control hand muscles, and reach out for a mouse, move it to a Web link on our screen, and then control our finger muscles to click on it-instead, we will only "think it"! No longer will your life be dependant on how long your tissues and organs hold out; instead, you will get a brand new android body for your brain-your only concern will be visiting the "service centre" and "changing your oil"!
Ultimately, it boils down to controlling your own mortality, and achieving super-human feats. We all want to live forever!