Cyborgs : Where Humans augment with Machines - Basics
The world now is a lot smarter than our ancestors have thought or imagine, or even I’d say they haven’t imagined such a drastic change in the world – a world from a primitive pen and paper to smart gadgets where information has more value than ink, files have more value than paper. What this article will narrate you might seem to be a sci-fi movie, but the research has already begun in this realm of technological advancement.
A time will come when humans will be incompetent or less potential to compete with technology, specifically Artificial Intelligence, and hence the biological body of human must merge up with machines, technologies, processors and sensors to make the body work better. The research on this field is still in its infancy and these augmented man-machine human race will be called Cyborgs.
Prof. Hugh Herr, an American rock climber, engineer, biophysicist and professor at MIT, had once broken his leg during rock climbing and lost his leg. He replaced those legs with machine oriented artificial ones. Though his leg cannot sense the same as real leg does, but what he and his research team is doing is making an augmented body part that can connect to different information of tissue to sensors of augmented machine part of your body. The modern conservative prosthetic limbs that are used when someone damage or lose their legs or hands, does not offer digital or analogue feedbacks to the human brain’s nervous system. This is the reason people with amputated or artificially joint limbs cannot sense or feel the position, speed, accuracy & torque of their prosthetic joints without looking at those. This eventually makes them difficult to control the movement in parallel with their body culture. Hence for creating a highly accurate and proper prosthetic control human experience, scientists & researchers of ‘Centre for Extreme Bionics at the MIT Media Lab’ designed and engineered the Agonist-antagonist Myoneural Interface (AMI) which is capable enough to precise out the proprioception of any artificially augmented body part(s).
So let us just give a rough overview of how these augmented man-machine interaction is possible. According to researchers, it is now possible to transmit from the brain all the neural signals from the central nervous systems and pass through the nerves & activate muscles that are just above or near the artificial body part. Then the artificial electrodes sense these biological signals. Small computer chips and their associated algorithms in the bionic body part decode these nerve pulses and signals and read the intended movement patterns.
So, in the broader view, what happens now is when the human with augmented machine or bionic and artificial body part thinks about moving the artificial part (hands or legs) of the body, those commands get communicated to the synthetic part of the body but the brain cannot receive back any input from those chips and computer algorithms through those nervous systems.
What was not possible till the last two years was that – if someone touches their synthetic part of the body, that person with synthetic body part will not experience normal touch and movement sensations. But what the researchers are trying to do is send the signal of brain through central nervous system and then preparing to take back a feedback or acknowledgement as input from the synthetic body part and decode it to bio-neural signals and pass it to the normal human brain, thereby making it bi-directional.cyborg
This transmission of information from synthetic body parts through the central nervous system to the brain will fundamentally change the relationship of the human body with the synthetic part that is augmented for further actions. The thing which was not possible till date (which is feeling the synthetic body part), because these are separate body parts augmented for further actions, will be possible to feel and treat naturally as a part of the body itself through the AMI technology which can be sensed through our minds. Researchers are working on this new subject called Neural and body design. In this design mechanism of development, the designers who are scientists will also design the human flesh and bones which will be biologically connected along with synthetics which will eventually help in bidirectional communication between the artificial or augmented body part and the build immune system. The future of Cyborgs will be based on Neuron Process Design methodology where synthetic components of the body, that will be used to enhance the human capabilities, will not comprise of separate life-less tools and, humans can very comfortably sense the separate body part as a part of their own, like our mind communicates with our body.
This will be how technology and mechanism can be carefully and smartly integrated with nature. The future will not distinguish what is biological and what is not. A time will come when the course of cyber surgeon will come who will take care of all such augmentation of body by integrating synthetic body parts through surgery.
This future technology will provide humanity new bodies with special abilities or lost abilities. Where the world will be witnessing robosapiens, there will be humans who will live a normal life and the other race of people will be these augmented humans with amplified competence. By designing the synthetic body with biological structure human will extend their capabilities to beyond physiological levels – cognitively, emotionally and physically. Deep tissue sculpting, smart skin and AR and MR-based interactions with nature will also combine the man-machine architecture soon to bring technology out of the box, out of our imagination.
The body will not experience these parts as a separate biological entity and hence will give rise to cybernetic organism. But it has a high-resolution drawback. If your body has a technology attached to your, whether internal or external, they have the possibility to get hacked (both wired or wireless oriented). Others can control that part of your body and you can be puppet to that smarter organism. Since these concepts and its research are progressing at an enormous rate, within few decades it is likely that you can see cybernetic organisms around you.
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