Wearable tech like fitness bands and GPS trackers are all the rage, and our pets are starting to use them, too. These tools can help us monitor and track our companion animals.
Via LeapMind, Andrea Graziano
“ Two hundred million years ago, our mammal ancestors developed a new brain feature: the neocortex. This stamp-sized piece of tissue (wrapped around a brain the size of a walnut) is the key to what humanity has become. Now, futurist Ray Kurzweil suggests, we should get ready for the next big leap in brain power, as we tap into the computing power in the cloud.”
Via Jean-Philippe BOCQUENET, arslog
“ Daily Mail MIT robotics experts create pair of shoulder-mounted arms to give us six limbs Daily Mail MIT's robotic arms may resemble those of Spider Man villain Otto Octavius, or Dr Octopus (pictured) but unlike the comic book creations, they are...”
Via Kalani Kirk Hausman, arslog
Exoskeletons, 3D printed legs, robotic arms: There's plenty of press for these prosthetic technologies, and for good reason. They're innovative in a splashy way, and they're undeniable feats of engineering.
“ The ability to exchange emotions felt during sex may soon be a reality Imagine a world where you could feel the emotions of another person at a distance. Now imagine the possibilities it could open up for sex. Heather Schlegel, a futurist and former Silicon Valley techie, is doing just that. In the next two …”
Via Andrea Graziano
“ A promising new study suggests that a wireless, light-sensitive, and flexible film could potentially form part of a prosthetic device to replace damaged or defective retinas. The film both absorbs light and stimulates neurons without being connected to any wires or external power sources, standing it apart from silicon-based devices used for the same purpose. It has so far been tested only on light-insensitive retinas from embryonic chicks, but the researchers hope to see the pioneering work soon reach real-world human application. Some neurons are genetically-predisposed to be sensitive to light. An emerging field called optogenetics uses light to stimulate and control those neurons, with applications not only in vision but also in gene therapy, brain mapping, reducing pain sensitivity, treatment of neurological disorders such as epilepsy and Parkinson's disease, and even mind control. ”The researchers sought to develop an optogenetics approach to restoring vision. They combined semiconductor nanorods and carbon nanotube film and found that the resultant system stimulated neurons in light-insensitive embryonic chicks at day 14 of their development when illuminated with violet light for 100 ms.
“ Once a topic explored exclusively in science fiction, the notion of restoring sensory feelings to humans and to machines is now approaching reality. Scientists around the world are developing artificial organs such as bionic eyes that could potentially restore sensory feelings to the disabled or provide useful sensory capabilities to machines. Now electronic skin is being developed in an attempt to bring a sense of touch to robots and those who wear prosthetics. If the field advances even further, it could even be used in wearable technology. As robots become part of our daily lives, electronic skin will be vital. If your robot is going to help you around the house or with medical care, tactile sensing will be a fundamental part of its safe operation. It needs to be able to detect when a surface is slippery as well as sense the shape, texture and temperature of the objects it grasps. If it can sense the properties of that object, the robot can also decide how much force it should apply when it holds it. It is the use of distributed sensors to measure subtle pressure changes that has attracted the attention of wearable technology makers and enthusiasts. Artificial electronic skin, or E-skin has the potential to be used for on-body health monitoring and minimally invasive surgery as well as in robotics and prosthetics. ”
Any mention of cyborgs or superpowers evokes fantastical images from the realms of science fiction and comic books. Our visions of humans with enhanced capabilities are borne of our imaginations and the stories we tell. In reality, though, enhanced humans already exist ... and they don't look like Marvel characters. As different human enhancement technologies advance at different rates, they bleed into society gradually and without fanfare. What's more, they will increasingly necessitate discussion about areas that are often overlooked – what are the logistics and ethics of being superhuman? Gizmag spoke to a number of experts to find out.
Our natural tendency is to focus on the functionality of enhanced humans. Abilities like super-strength, flight or telepathy seem so far removed from that of which we're capable and so desirable that it's understandable for us to focus on these possibilities. The individual, social and ethical consequences of enhanced humans are considered far less in popular culture, however.
"People tend to imagine the current state of human enhancement as either much more advanced or retarded than it really is," Steve Fuller, Auguste Comte Chair in Social Epistemology in the Department of Sociology at the University of Warwick, tells Gizmag. "I realize that this sounds paradoxical, but generally speaking it helps to explain the curious blend of impatience and disappointment that surrounds the topic. This simply reflects the fact that people know more about human enhancement from its own hype and science-fictional representations – which can be positive or negative – than from what's actually available on the ground."