For decades many have fantasized about and contemplated the possibilities of merging man and machine. For those bound to wheelchairs or stricken by blindness, deafness or other ailments, the thought of replacing parts of themselves with mechanical replications is something that can inspire hope and wonder. Yet for many this possibility can raise questions of deep religious and spiritual implications, and the very thought of such “enhancements” fly in the face of everything they believe.
Decades ago when cybernetics was nothing more than a novelty of the science fiction realm, the debate was strictly hypothetical. Yet now cybernetic augmentation in its most wondrous form is quickly becoming a reality and every day scientists make advancements that push the limits of technology. The possibilities are endless and, when seriously contemplated, can be outright frightening.
The idea isn’t exactly new; the pirate with the peg-leg may not have realized it but he was a pioneer in more ways than one. Prosthetic limb replacement may have seemed simple at first, but in short order humanity began to want more than plastic approximations, and in short order the field of cybernetics began to grow into an industry that could change the course of human evolution forever. Popular works of science fiction brought dreams of cybernetic enhancement into the public view, and it wasn’t long before scientists started to experiment with the idea of bringing these seemingly fevered dreams into reality. It really makes you question the essence of beauty and what it really means.
The Push From A Silicon Age
The silicon age and the progression of modern robotics brought the possibility of cybernetics closer and closer to reality, and now the world is beginning to see what was once nothing more than a dream, and we are forced to examine these advancements in depth, and question the limitations of the human body. First they added a few servos to a prosthetic limb to give it the look of human movement, but there was no true control by the wearer. The human brain, being the control center of the body, had no connection to the prosthesis and was nothing more than a heavy and clunky piece of metal attached to a man. Soon though, the dam began to break and truth of cybernetics became evident.
The body-mind interface was the door and the key to unlocking the true potential of this technology, and without breaking this barrier there could be no realization of a cybernetic dream. The signals sent by the brain continue to be sent whether there is a limb there to receive it or not, and all that was needed was a way to receive and translate those signals. Now scientists have solved that problem, and prosthetic limbs are able to respond to the desires of the wearer with speed and accuracy, and those with missing arms or legs started to feel whole again.
The possibilities of this technology, while truly endless in their scope, come with them a necessity to think on the changes that will inevitably be born of their exploration. A heart that will never stop beating and is invulnerable to disease; lungs that can breath air and water and eyes that can see through walls. It all seems so far-fetched until you start to realize just how far we’ve actually come. We are now walking and running on cybernetics legs and seeing with cybernetic eyes. How much longer will it be before we begin to break the bonds of our own humanity? What will mankind become when we are no longer bound by the limitations of our own bodies?