Sunday, November 28, 2010

5 powers that cybernetics will give us

I know.  The article I'm linking is called "superpowers science will give us," but I believe that this all speaks clearly to transhumanism.  Here's a quick rundown of the five.

5. Advanced technology exo-suits.  This is an obvious comparison to Iron Man and that is not at all unfitting.  In an age of space travel (however limited) and artificial organs (ditto), Iron Man might very well be among the most realistic superheroes of them all.  Currently, there is a suit called Hybrid Assisted Limb that has moved past the developmental stage.  Defense contractors are already abuzz over how this exoskeleton could alter modern warfare.  Sci fi fans will take eerie note that the suit can be abbreviated as "HAL."

4. Nanotube technology that can help you stick to surfaces.  When integrated with skin or extended as a line (a la everyone's favorite wall crawler), this could be useful in a number of professions, say construction workers on high rises.  If it's done with the line approach, the writer of the article astutely points out that every city building could end up looking like it has been "Bukakked within mere inches of its life."  Google the term.  Modesty prevents me from defining it here.

3. Cellular regeneration.  Read the entry.  It's fascinating.  More than that, it brings hope to any brave armed serviceman or woman who has come home missing a limb.  

2. Invisibility.  There has long been an "invisibility cloak" in development.  It works.  Sort of.  DARPA, the scientific development arm of the U.S. military, has been excitedly preparing suits of such a kind for soldiers.  How far are they from actually deploying them?  That's classified.  My guess: not as far as we might think.

1. Cyberkinetics.  This is the one that excites me.  I mentioned a few posts back that a laboratory has already created a wheelchair that responds to human thought.  It is not a far leap to believe that such technology will not remain confined to the disabled and will eventually find mainstream use.  With the proper implants, people could begin moving objects with mere thought, all before you can even say, "use the Force, Luke."  This technology has already been approved by the FDA for further development and a company called Cyberkinetics (of course) hopes to have it in mass market use very very soon.

Of course all of this comes with its caveats.  There will be setbacks and hurdles in the process of getting much of it to work.  That and I don't even want to consider the factor of the lowest common denominator.  Just imagine the havoc that the illicit use of a few of these things, such as an invisibility suit or cyberkinetics, could wreak.  As always, human nature will be our worst enemy.
Still, I don't see that as a reason to cease the pursuit of developing technological integration.  Advancement in technology always has its downside, from jet airliners polluting the skies to your identity being hacked online.  Despite those ills, I don't think that many among us are prepared to go back to land/sea travel only or a pre-Internet age (except for Kip.  Jackass.)  The nature of things is to evolve and move forward.   The posthuman age is already here.

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