Rex and the Future of Cybernetics

I didn't mean to keep going with the concept of humans merging with machines from last week, but I happened across this video yesterday and I think it's worth a look by all.

The video features Rex, a human-style framework on which is pinned, functionally, almost every piece of artificial structure we can put in a human body at this time. An artificial heart, artificial blood, artificial limbs controlled by brain signals, and even an artificial pancreas are all represented. Rex's purpose is simply to display what we can do at this time.  What's truly mind-blowing about the video, though, is what is attached to the arm of one of Rex's developers, Bertholt Meyer—a fully functional cybernetic prosthesis for a limb he was born without controlled by his brain waves.

Mr. Meyer makes a very interesting point about the future of cybernetic prosthetics, that they will not try to hide their nature (not only because it diminishes their functionality but because it looks awkward), but instead will be designed to draw attention to the fact that the limb in question is artificial. I have to say, after watching the video, I think he's right. This generation of cybernetic limbs looks pretty slick.

Check the video out, it runs about 7 minutes.

Mr. Meyer's point about the ethics of cybernetic replacements is also quite interesting. Will we, in the future, allow people to elect to replace healthy limbs with mechanical ones that are superior? If we make such voluntary replacement illegal, will there be a rash of people injuring themselves in order to get access to this new technology?

Would seeing something like "Prosthesis" as featured by this Gajitz article make someone want to hack their arm off to get one?

To read more about Rex and see a diagram of his systems check out this Daily Mail article.


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