Monday, May 14, 2012

On the transhuman front...




There have been a few developments in the realm of transhumanism and cybernetics that I would like to share with you.

A light-powered retinal implant is giving new hope to the sightless.   As implied in its name, the cybernetic eye gets its energy from light, thereby navigating around the problem that other bionic implants have in that they must run on battery power.  An advanced pair of glasses beams near-infrared light into the eye, thus allowing the device to transmit information that will allow the person to see.  No need for ungainly wiring, batteries fitted behind the ear, or other complex electronics.  Certainly good news for anyone who suffers from degenerative retinal diseases or is already blind.  Or even if you are just a guy like me who is terrified of going blind.  By extending this news, I wonder if transhuman technology of this kind will one day advance to not only lend sight to the blind but to enhance the vision of those who can already see?  I am currently writing a short story about people who can see through augmented reality via nanotechnological implants.  Here's to hoping I'm turning into a prescient science fiction writer.

By the way, that story comes to us via the BBC.  When you click the link, please check out their section on Can you build a human body?  You'll find more information on the eye implants as well as cybernetic limbs and the like.

A new iPhone app aims to program your dreams.  The author of the linked article likens this technology to the film, Inception.  I have not seen that one yet, so I'll be sticking to the cybernetics.  The app is called Sigmund (of course).  The program offers you to select one to five keywords from a list of about 1,000.  A female voice then reads the words you've chosen during your time of deepest REM sleep.  Of course that means programming the app to know what time you will go to sleep and what time you will awake.  If you don't actually adhere to the set times, why then it skews the whole thing doesn't it?  Of immediate interest to me is the fact that the keyword list is not all "beach," "mountain," "farm," and the peaceful like.  You can also choose from an "adventure" category and find words such as "war," "battle," "combat," "anaconda," or "harem" to name a few.  Yes, building on that latter keyword, there is a "sex" category.  Despite the typical Luddites, Kip Haggis-types, and Apple-bashers that this news inevitably brings out, I'm all for trying it.  Let all those slugs hold on to their landline phones, handwritten checks, and stubbornly refuse to get an exoskeleton as their eldritch bones deteriorate from age.

Speaking of augmented reality, Google announced last month they are about to intromit their new Google X augmented reality glasses.  They're still in the prototype phase but they would allow the wearer to see their environs overlayed with Google Maps, Google+, pics and video, and other data siphoned from the Web.  When this technology is combined with the cybernetics described in the first news bit, well...perhaps I am prescient after all!

I just hope I live long enough to see these developments come to pass.  Free myself from the Matrix?  Why in the name of all that's good would I want to do that?



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