Ways technology is turning us into cyborgs

Sunday - 13/11/2016 15:58
Cyborg: a person whose physiological functioning is aided by or dependent upon a mechanical or electronic device. While cyborgs are often seen as entities of science fiction, humans are increasingly blurring the line between man and machine.
Ways technology is turning us into cyborgs
Here are six ways technology is turning us into cyborgs:

Pacemakers

A pacemaker is a small device implanted in a person’s chest that uses low-energy electrical pulses to help control abnormal heart rhythms. The first implantable pacemaker was designed by engineer Wilson Greatbatch.

Millions of cyborgs with heart conditions worldwide are dependent on pacemakers to live. These cyborgs have to avoid contact with electrical devices that have strong magnetic fields, such as cell phones. Once a pacemaker is implanted in a person, turning it off can prove fatal. The machine becomes as integral to the cyborg’s ability to live as any other organ.

Contact lens that measures blood sugar levels

Google is delving into the world of healthcare wearables with its new project — a smart contact lens that assists diabetics by constantly measuring the glucose levels in their tears. The cyborg device was created by University of Washington engineers Brian Otis and Babak Parviz.

The lens consists of a tiny wireless chip and a minuscule glucose sensor. It sounds a warning when blood sugar levels are too high or low. The lens would be a pain-free and bloodless alternative for patients who currently have to prick their fingers to check their glucose levels.

Seizure-preventing microchip

BrainCom is a Toronto-based start-up developing an implantable brain chip for the early detection of seizures in epilepsy patients. The device stimulates the brain to change its pattern, preventing or reducing the severity of the seizure. The device was designed by engineers Hossein Kassiri, Lassonde School of Engineering, York University and Nima Soltani, University of Toronto.
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The implanted chip could move patients’ critical brain monitoring and diagnosis out of the hospital and into their lives.

Data stored in your hands

In 2016 Australian cyborg Shanti Korporaal had two microchips implanted into her hands to replace all her cards, IDs, passwords and PINs. The RFID and NFC chips can even be used in the same way as a smartphone and store complex data. Korporaal has started a commercial distribution service for the cyborg implants called Chip My Life.

She is part of a growing cult of ‘bio-hackers’ who believe implantable chips are the next stage in the wearable technology trend. The cyborg craze has caught on, as Swedish startup Epicenter implanted the microchips in 400 of its employees.

Curing paralysis through mind control

BrainGate is a brain implant system developed by neuroscientists at Brown University that restores function in people with paralysis. The system has seen unprecedented success so far. In March 2017, a man paralyzed from the shoulders down was able to move enough to eat and drink using the system.

His brain implant was comprised of two tiny electrodes sitting just beneath the skull. A further 36 electrodes in his arm stimulated various muscles. The two pieces were connected by a computer that translated the cyborg’s brain signals into commands for the electrodes in the arm.

Merging man and machine

Innovator and futurist Elon Musk believes humans must become cyborgs to maintain relevant. So it’s no surprise that he has founded Neuralink, a company developing ultra high bandwidth brain–machine interfaces to connect humans and computers.

The technology is described as a ‘wizard hat for your brain’ and would connect humans on a biological level to the internet. Neuralink would be a whole-brain interface so complete, frictionless, powerful and bio-compatible that it would feel to users like just another part of reality.

Clearly, we are already in the age of cyborgs. So where are things headed? What sorts of technologies will we continue to see develop? Here are five.

Neural Implants

Connecting your mind with a computer has been science fiction for decades, but it is closer to becoming reality than ever before. Today’s neural implants are cochlear implants to restore hearing and retinal implants to repair failing vision. These are basic neural implants, but they are already being advanced.

 Computer Controlled Smart Limbs

A prosthetic tech company, has created a hand that can be controlled using a smartphone app. Though most of us would never consider adding a limb, many believe that the future is about improving our own limbs with smart, computer-controlled prosthetics.

Current prosthetics are an enormous help to those who have lost limbs, and these prosthetics are getting smarter every day. “Touch Bionics’ i-limb prosthetic hand also features a rotating thumb, five individually powered fingers, a rotatable wrist and aluminum chassis.” Touch Bionics claims this is the most advanced prosthetic hand ever made, and that it comes with 24 different grips.
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This hand can also be controlled using an app, but it was originally designed to interpret muscle signals

Nanomedicine

Nanotech, a medical miracle, delivers tiny ‘smart’ particles wherever needed in the body. One experimental lung cancer treatment has the patient inhale nano-particles by aerosol; the particles settle in diseased areas of the lungs. An external magnet, superheats the particles, which kills diseased cells.

One Texas team has created super-strong, artificial muscles made from nanotech fibers and filled with paraffin wax. The muscles can “lift more than 100,000 times their own weight and generate 85 times more power than the same size human muscle.”

Uploading The Brain

Ray Kurzweil, the well-known futurist, believes that by 2040 to 2045, any human will be able to upload his or her consciousness into a computer. Though it seems like a sci-fi movie story, one Russian billionaire has revealed that he plans to upload his own brain, thus becoming immortal, no later than 2045. Dmitry Itskov, 32, believes that technology will let him live indefinitely in a hologram body.

According to Itskov, “The new human being will receive a huge range of abilities and will be capable of withstanding extreme external conditions easily: high temperatures, pressure, radiation, lack of oxygen, etc. Using a neural-interface, humans will be able to operate several bodies of various forms and sizes remotely.”

Invisibility Technology

Technology experts say a real-life Harry Potter invisibility cloak is coming soon. It is true: Researchers already have working invisibility cloaks, though they are far from optimal operation. Most recently, engineers encircled an object with small antennas that collectively radiated an EM field, cancelling out visible light waves.

Would You Be A Cyborg?

It is amazing the amount of cybernetic technology that already exists to help people with disabilities and to enhance the basic functions of our bodies.
While these tools are reserved for those with amputations or other disabilities, it does seem that commercially available bionic enhancements are not that far away.
Be on the lookout for options that could enhance your human experience.

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