Thu. Jan 23rd, 2020

Radical implants for happy cyborgs | Innovation

This is not about breast implants that increase our aspirants to tronistas or great sisters. Not even for dental implants that permanently recover lost smiles, and that have their origin in a casual investigative finding related to rabbits and bones. This goes from implants that seek to convert us into augmented humans. In supermen and super women with technology inside their body.

The news is recurring, but the last move of the group of self-appointed cyborgs has been news for what it represents: a user of a Tesla 3, the most popular vehicle of the visionary brand Elon Musk – which has launched the electric vehicle market and autonomous at a credible level– The electronic key of your car has been implanted in your arm. Beyond how useful or dangerous a metal implant can be in the body – we look forward to the rejection effect of implanted metals – it should not be anything new.

Sweden is the country of electronic implants in the body. Is not something mainstreamIt is not like football, but it is widespread: about 4,000 people there carry subdermal implants to pay or access public services. Worldwide there are about 10,000, so the statement is not accidental. I know people there who proudly wear their implants in their hands. They don't think about external control, about Big Brother. They think about how comfortable it is to not have to take off your gloves to find a card or ID in your wallet, which you left home that day. Living below zero makes them more practical: they have agreed to be cyborgs by choice.

The word cyborg itself evokes the conquest of space: it was coined in 1960 to refer to a human being improved through technology that could survive in environments aliens. Today the Cyborg Foundation, founded by the first self-appointed cyborgs as Neil Harbisson -the man who feels colors through a sensor installed in his skull- to defend the rights of cyborgs, is more a cutting-edge cultural movement than a real stimulus for today's society to take advantage of the advantages of technology and merge it with her body.

But the truth is that the world is full of cyborgs. Moreover, over the years, we are all going to become one: human beings enhanced by technological implants, which will come to correct our health problems. We have had pacemakers for years that return the Iron Man-style crazy heart to their rhythm, cochlear implants that by means of microelectronics return the sense of hearing by stimulating the auditory nerve, intraocular lenses that return our vision and are placed after the surgical removal of the cataracts -formed by the opacification of the lens and its rigidity due to age and solar radiation-, or the same traumatology prostheses, which convert us, changing bone and cartilage worn by metal and plastic, in a kind of grandfather or grandmother of Wolverine: we can sit, walk and even some can return to elite sport thanks to their prostheses.

But there are also implantable defibrillators, which from within the body detect abnormalities and reset the heart, or electronic neurostimulators, which connected to the brain correct the Parkinson's. The new generation of bionic eyes is coming, which can already be seen in Spain, and prostheses made with 3D printers for amputees, which reduce the cost and increase performance. Because the challenge is to increase the yield, to have true implants that take us to another level as a human spice. This is why it was forbidden to compete in athletics with specially designed prostheses, as is the case of the most famous disabled athlete of all time. Increased cyborgs begin to arrive.

With the arrival of 5G to the world, we will surely use more and better technology to apply sensors to chronic patients and thus be able to have their data at a distance. It happens with the telemetry of Formula 1, something that the team would McLaren has tested with 30 patient children at Birmingham Childrens ’Hospital. It is likely that one step further will lead us to have physical chips implanted to monitor or even solve serious health problems such as Alzheimer's; there is a external memory prosthesis in which DARPA already works, which sound a bit like the bad guys of Lost, but that is an entity dependent on the American army. There are also different studies to improve paralysis in humans, whose ideal future has been pointed out in certain dystopian films as Upgrade; in it – alert spoiler – the tetraplegia of the protagonist is solved by means of a micro-stimulator implanted at the level of the central nervous system that gives it superhuman properties.

The future goes through the extension of the cyborgs in the field of health, beyond the ethical debates that arise from being able to have tools to enforce the Olympic motto: further, higher, stronger. The inequality that can represent its use to resolve – and aparaphrase Yuval Noah Harari-, the scientific quest for eternal and happy life, and a new era full of robots. Only those happy robots may be ourselves …

Frederic Llordachs Marquis He is co-founder and partner of Doctoralia

. (tagsToTranslate) implants (t) radical (t) cyborgs (t) happy (t) future (t) pass (t) extension (t) field (t) health (t) debate (t) ethical

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