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Where can I get a bionic arm?

September 14, 2006

I don’t need one.  But, if I do happen to lose my arm the next time I’m surfing in shark-filled waters or do whatever else it is that folks do to lose limbs, I’m in luck.  Today is the day for the bionic woman.

Check it out!

As The Washington Post reports, 26-year old Claudia Mitchell has become the fourth person and first woman to get outfitted with a bionic arm (well, besides Lindsay Wagner), with which she’s able to perform functions simply by thinking about them. The arm was designed by researchers at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago — who are part of a larger project funded by DARPA — and works by detecting the movement’s of Mitchell’s chest muscle, which has been rewired to the nerves that once served her left arm. Eventually, researchers say, the arm could even give Mitchell the sense of touch, with electrodes in the hand sending signals to her chest skin, which her brain would recognize as a sensation. This being part of a DARPA project though, we’re sure they’re also working on things they’re not telling us, like crazy swinging grappling hook action.

Yep, we’re cyborgs now.

Seriously though, I’m fascinated by this kind of stuff.  There is less and less of a defined boundary between our technology and our bodies and minds.  One could easily say there is no boundary.  Some people assert the bionic arm is no different, really, than the pencils we use, the laptops we tap on, or the contacts we put in our eyes.  We’re all cyborgs in that our technology is embedded in everything we do.  Our tools are extensions of ourselves, not outside of us.

A future is coming and this bionic arm is one step along the way to robots running our wars and being able to write novels just by thinking about them. Though it will take a while, there are significant projects underway that have these very real goals in mind.  I’m suspicious and excited, pulled to learn more and yet instinctively repelled at the same time.  Aren’t you?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 14, 2006 12:18 pm

    Wow — that picture is crazy! Great post. I’ve been following these brain-controlled device developments with great interest, too. The potential is mind blowing and — as you say — a little scary. But I guess that’s the case with a lot of technological advances. They’re often a double-edged sword.

  2. September 14, 2006 2:42 pm

    i’m all for tossing my body away and replacing it with technology…it’s kinda gross as is. unless the Greeks were right and consciousness really does exude from the heart, then i’m stuck with this lump of gristle forever.

  3. September 18, 2006 11:41 am

    this hoe will never get a man

  4. September 18, 2006 11:42 am

    This hoe/bicth will never get a man

  5. September 28, 2006 6:18 pm

    to pierce or stick, as with a thorn or a long pointed Thamesportal sit, rest, meditate (1) relax (6)

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