In science fiction the term “cyborg” is used to describe human beings whose bodily functions are aided or controlled by some type of technology. When you consider that what this actually refers to is enhanced capabilities through technology, we’re not talking about the bionic man. In reality these concepts allow people who suffered from accidents or with current disabilities to regain or exercise a set of skills.
The truth of it is, modifying or enhancing our bodies with technology is already possible and relatively common. Every year millions of pacemakers, cochlear and neural implants are successfully implanted in hospitals and clinics worldwide — would you call that transhumanism? What about prosthetic limbs? As these become more robotic and integrated into the human body the word “cyborg” may be becoming less of a fictional concept.
Developments in the area of robotic prosthetics may currently be seen in many different forms — Dawn O’Leary, a woman from Maryland who had both arms amputated after an accident was fitted with a prosthetic hand by Touch Bionics called i-Limb that offers her similar motor control of a real arm. This technology uses proprioception sensors to pick up nerve signals from her torso and translates these into commands for controlling a prosthetic hand which can grasp and move objects using the right amount of force. In the UK, Touch Bionics already offers a range of active prosthesis.
“Paging John Connor..”
DARPA’s Cheetah Bot Breaks Human, Robot Speed Records
By Stephanie Mlot
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Boston Dynamics have unleashed a legged robot that’s even faster than Olympic champion Usain Bolt.
The Cheetah recently broke its own land speed record of 18 mph, running a 20-meter split at 28.3 mph, faster than the world record for a human set in 2009 when Usain Bolt reached a peak speed of 27.78 mph.
Wisdom Dancer expresses scepticism about the Szaszian project…
Reading on the internet has probably already introduced you to the anti-psychiatric movement, which appeals to the dislike people have for the “disease model” and fear of medication for mental illness, which relates to their fears of being out of control of their own minds. Although they will have already experienced this as human beings, if not also as sufferers of particular disorders, they may not have accepted it any more than people can accept the fact of their future death.
In short, the anti-psychiatric movement, and specifically its anti-psychopharmacological message, appeals to the folk rejection of the mind or “soul” people think of as their unitary self being in some way integrated or derived—to some debatable degree—without conscious control, and being subject instead to the evolution, development, oddities and dysfunctions of a physical electrochemical brain, a compound, complex adaptive system. Despite mountains of scientific evidence, folk beliefs about the brain prefer to believe it is merely the seat of consciousness. This is just as true of secularists, who won’t use the word “soul,” but still believe in a metaphysical notion about the mind, falsely distinguishing the experience from the brain from which it emerges.
Mitt Romney’s tax returns are reportedly in the hands of a team of hackers who plan on releasing them publicly at the end of the month unless a ransom is paid.
The group allegedly obtained the files from PricewaterhouseCooper’s Tennessee office on Aug. 25, in what was described on PasteBin as a Mission Impossible-like caper:
When decentralized desktop manufacturing achieves the successful and widespread production of a workable, reliable weapon then the world as we know it will be effectively over. It may be a gun. It may be a drone. It may be a cruise missile for all we know. Technology may make anarchy more than an ideological struggle; it may make anarchy a necessity for human survival. Whether you call it a resilient community, a commune, or a tribe; the future belongs to decentralized, autonomous cells capable of insulating themselves from violence through peer to peer, networked alliances.
by David J. Hill
Consider, for a moment, the rising use of drone technology by the military. In light of how years of advances in robotics and artificial intelligence will transform drones, imagine how warfare will look in merely one decade. That’s the subject of a recently released webseries called DR0NE that is both intellectually intriguing and fricking awesome. Episode 1, released on Aug 30, paints a picture of how far technology might evolve in just one decade.
The beginning of the episode sets the stage of the series by showing the struggle of a drone identified only as “237″ on the run:
“By the early 21st century, the nature of warfare had changed. Unmanned drones patrolled the skies about the battleground. In the year 2023, humanoid drones were deployed to the front lines — a new breed of solider; stronger and faster than their human counterparts. Autonomous by design, they operate by a code — a code of war.”
Australian scientists said Thursday they had successfully implanted a “world first” bionic eye prototype, describing it as a major breakthrough for the visually impaired. Bionic Vision Australia (BVA), a government-funded science consortium, said it had surgically installed an “early prototype” robotic eye in a woman with hereditary sight loss caused by degenerative retinitis pigmentosa.
Described as a “pre-bionic eye”, the tiny device is attached to Dianne Ashworth’s retina and contains 24 electrodes which send electrical impulses to stimulate her eye’s nerve cells. Researchers switched on the device in their laboratory last month after Ashworth had fully recovered from surgery and she said it was an incredible experience. “I didn’t know what to expect, but all of a sudden, I could see a little flash – it was amazing,” she said in a statement.
The idea that paralyzed people might one day control their limbs just by thinking is no longer a fantasy
By Miguel A.L. Nicolelis, Scientific American
In 2014, billions of viewers worldwide may remember the opening game of the World Cup in Brazil for more than just the goals scored by the Brazilian national team and the red cards given to its adversary. On that day my laboratory at Duke University, which specializes in developing technologies that allow electrical signals from the brain to control robotic limbs, plans to mark a milestone in overcoming paralysis.
Has social psychology become a Tribal Moral Community since the 1960s? Are we a community that is bound together by liberal values and then blind to any ideas or findings that threaten our sacred values? I believe the answer is yes, and I’ll make 3 points to support that claim.
A transcribed speech by Jonathan Haidt
A transhumanist congressman? In Italy? Seriously?
Yes. In July, Italy — ironically, a stronghold of the Catholic Church — became the first major Western nation to elect an active transhumanist.
They beat like real heart cells, but the rat cardiomyocytes in a dish at Harvard University are different in one crucial way. Snaking through them are wires and transistors that spy on each cell’s electrical impulses. In future, the wires might control their behaviour too.
Versions of this souped-up, “cyborg” tissue have been created for neurons, muscle and blood vessels. They could be used to test drugs or as the basis for biological versions of existing implants such as pacemakers. If signals can also be sent to the cells, cyborg tissue could be used in prosthetics or to create tiny robots.
“It allows one to effectively blur the boundary between electronic, inorganic systems and organic, biological ones,” says Charles Lieber, who leads the team behind the cyborg tissue.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered an efficient and totally safe method to turn adult blood cells “all the way back to the way [they were] when that person was a 6-day-old embryo.” The discovery could be the key to cure the incurable—from heart attacks to severed spinal cord to cancer—and open the door, some day, to eternal youth.
Scientists believe that stem cell therapy could change medicine forever. However, these therapies are impossible to implement on a large scale because you can’t acquire embryonic stem cells without having to use actual human embryos—an extremely controversial undertaking. The alternative has always been to use the stem cells found in umbilical cords—which is why rich people use umbilical cord storage facilities to guarantee future treatments for their kids—or use viruses to reprogram adult cells. These viruses can successfully return adult cells to their stem cell state, but the procedure opens the door to numerous complications as a result of potential DNA mutations. And those mutations could lead to cancer.
The key to keeping the posts lined up at ATS is to post articles in pairs. For example if you post two articles at a time all the other posts will not be affected by your two new posts. The other posts will simply drop down, remaining organized in pairs. Everything works in pairs.
Shawn Sarver took a deep breath and stared at the bottle of Listerine on the counter. “A minty fresh feeling for your mouth… cures bad breath,” he repeated to himself, as the scalpel sliced open his ring finger. His left arm was stretched out on the operating table, his sleeve rolled up past the elbow, revealing his first tattoo, the Air Force insignia he got at age 18, a few weeks after graduating from high school. Sarver was trying a technique he learned in the military to block out the pain, since it was illegal to administer anesthetic for his procedure.
The latest list from Forbes of the 100 most powerful women on the planet suggests that the technology industry is leading the way in promoting sexual equality, contributing 15 per cent of the spots overall and a quarter of the top 20 positions.
The technology industry contributed more names to the list (see below) than any other business sector, and includes the heads of some of the biggest firms in the hardware, software, and services sectors. Google was the only company to have two women on the list.
Once the preserve of science fiction, brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) have advanced to the point where they can even be found in novelty headwear, which only makes an achievement of an international team of scientists more frightening. Using an off-the-shelf Emotiv BCI costing only a few hundred dollars, the team has shown that it’s possible to “hack” a human brain and pull things like bank details straight out of your skull.
For their experiment, researchers from the Universities of Oxford, Geneva and California (Berkeley) called in a group of Computer Science students. The students knew they were part of a security-related experiment but did not know the objectives or that they were being “hacked.” Each of these students put on a Emotiv BCI and were sat down in front of a computer that displayed a series of images such as maps, banks, card PINs, and so on.
If you think that 24/7 tracking of citizens by biometric recognition systems is paranoid fantasy, just read the industry newsletters
Tom Cruise as John Anderton in the futuristic film Minority Report, where the advertisements use recognition technology to call out to the shoppers. Photograph: Allstar/20th Century Fox
Two new species of owls have been discovered in the Philippines, and an MSU researcher played a key role in confirming their existence. (Top left: Cebu Hawk owl. Bottom right: Camiguin Hawk owl.) (Credit: Courtesy of Oriental Bird Club: original painting by John Gale)
Iron-Man style DIY effort has man grasping again
Plucky Chinese gent Sun Jifa showed the world exactly what persistence, and a rudimentary knowledge of welding and prosthetics, can do when it emerged this week that he built his own bionic hands after accidentally blowing the originals off.
The 51-year-old from Guanmashan, in the northern province of Jilin blew off his hands and lower arms when explosives he was fiddling in preparation for a blast fishing trip went off prematurely, according to the Daily Mail.
Unable to pay the local hospital an arm and a leg for a professionally made prosthesis, Sun was apparently forced to go it alone and set about fashioning his own from scrap metal over a period of eight years.
A rudimentary system of pulleys and wires inside the metal casing allows his bionic hands to grip and hold objects, although there is no information from the Daily Fail on exactly how he managed the herculean task of making the false limbs without any hands.
Here’s the money quote:
“In fact, the entire idea of “white male science” reminds me, I’m afraid, of “Jewish physics.” Perhaps it is another inadequacy of mine, but when I read a scientific paper, I can’t tell whether the author is white or is male. The same is true of discussion of work in class, the office, or somewhere else. I rather doubt that the non-white, non-male students, friends, and colleagues with whom I work would be much impressed with the doctrine that their thinking and understanding differ from “white male science” because of their “culture or gender and race.” I suspect that “surprise” would not be quite the proper word for their reaction.”
By Noam Chomsky
|THIS DISCUSSION involves people with a large range of shared aspirations and commitments; in some cases at least, friends who have worked and struggled together for many years. I hope, then, that I can be quite frank. And personal, since to be honest, I don’t see much of independent substance to discuss.
By Charles Choi
Photo by Fred Spoor
Four decades ago, in 1972, the Koobi Fora Research Project discovered the enigmatic fossilized skull known as KNM-ER 1470, or “1470” for short, which ignited a now long-standing debate about how many different species of early Homo lived alongside Homo erectus during the Pleistocene epoch. Shown here, 1470’s cranium combined with the new lower jaw KNM-ER 60000; both are thought to belong to the same species. The lower jaw is shown as a photographic reconstruction, and the cranium is based on a computed tomography scan.
By Charles Choi
New fossils from the dawn of the human lineage suggest our ancestors may have lived alongside a diversity of extinct human species, researchers say.
Although modern humans, Homo sapiens, are the only human species alive today, the world has seen a number of human species come and go. Other members perhaps include the recently discovered “hobbit” Homo floresiensis .
by Daniel Acheampong
Two weeks back, the state of Texas sent convicted murderer Marvin Wilson on a KCI-addled one-way trip to oblivion. News of this came to my attention via the Huffington Post, which made a big how-to about the potassium-punctured perp’s IQ. Leading with the headline “Texas Puts Man with 61 IQ to Death”, HuffPo made mention of a variety of testimonies regarding Wilson’s intelligence…
The Supreme Court late in the afternoon rejected without comment… More…