Sunday, October 7, 2007

Cyborg Soldier

This week i would like to comment on the relationship between cyborgs and humans with regards to a recent "60 minute" article on TV.

The documentary used the example of an injured US soldier who had returned from duities in Iraq having had his left arm and left leg blown off during an amubush. This particular soldier had to have both limbs amputated and they were replaced with prosthetic limbs. I was astounded at the sophitication behind the technology used in creating these imitations. For example, his prosthetic arm was controlled by sensors within his elbow, giving him the ability to simulate most of the movements of his real hand. previously there was little control over the pressure when closing the hand, however this limitaion had been rectified through the sensors which were governed by messages from the brain. Another key feature was the aesthtic look of the prosthetic. It replicated a real limb very well and made it very hard to distinguish between the real and fake limb. The Documentary went on to talk about the future of prosthetics where several other senses are in development including touch and feelings within the ends of the fingers, for example, hot and cold substances.

Through this increase in the techgnology of prosthetic limbs, humans are now making easier decisions around amputation as the option of a prosthetic becomes more attractive and not so limiting. The documentary illustrated the point that technology is getting to a stage where humans are now upgrading their prosthetics and eventually will have functioning limbs that are everlasting and far more functional and practical than real limbs of others in the same age bracket.

I feel that this technology is fantastic for those who have had to amputate certain limbs and i can see the technology evolving to a stage where it replicates the human limb so closely that there would be no difference in functionality. Who knows where the technology will head, but i wouldn't be surprised if these prosthetic limbs got to a point where they actually out performed the human limb. This would be great for aging people or people who had a problem with joints, limbs etc but never considered the option of amputation. From this example it is clear to see how, through technology, the relationship between the human and the cyborg is getting closer.

David Dunlop.


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