Bionic Technology and Why it's Okay
Remember back in the day when computers were a rarity? Think back to a time before the DVD player, MP3 player, XBOX, back to a time when you had to be in a building to be reached by a telephone? Can you remember the days when people thought cyborgs and space stations were just a science-fiction fantasy? Could I have told you then that cyborgs would become a part of our future, for the better? Would anyone have believed me? Probably not then, but it is true now. Bionics is going to be a big part of the future, so why not embrace it? The use, research, and support of bionic technology is of great value to our civilization. Our civilization needs to support bionics research and technology. For not only is it the way of the future, it improves the quality of the lives of our fellows, and maybe one day ourselves.
Bionics, a technology that is dedicated to merging the living being with advanced circuitry to improve the life of said living being, is an ever-growing field. The use of bionics is already affecting many lives around us, though we may not realize it. The fact that we are facing a future that is implemented with science-fiction like technology is as mind-boggling as it is awe-inspiring.
In the past, we have had many exciting television series and movies dedicated to going "where no man has gone before" (as in the Star Trek series). What has happened to the world that was enthralled with the idea that science-fiction could one day become science-fact?
The idea that man shouldn't have to be limited to his mortality is not a new idea. As far back as recorded history has shown, humanity has had one ultimate enemy:death. The idea that our civilization is on the verge of vast technological capabilities will show that the war is far from over. Scientists are always working on something new, something better.
Don't let the idea of battling mortality frighten or appall you. For what are antibiotics if not another way to survive diseases that once brought death to many. If we hadn't started doing heart and kidney transplants, think of the people who wouldn't be here. For those that would say that our creator didn't intend for us to side wind death, the solution is quite obvious. Our creator gave us intelligence, of all of the species on this planet, humanity has the capability to advance the minds of our civilization, and the creative power to help heal civilization, as well.
Think of the possibilities! From giving the paralyzed person a chance to walk, or allowing a blind person to, through ultrasonic sensors, sense an object in front of or near him, to touching your husband or wife without having to move a finger- the possibilities truly are endless ( 1 Waldrop, S. . 2 Hardy, A. . 3 Grossman, L., & Klarreich, K. ). We are already giving sound to deaf ears through cochlear implants, and people in Germany are walking for the first time in their lives because of bionics.
So many amazing things could happen with this kind of research. There is no limit to the imagination, it runs wild with ideas of a better future, one with less suffering and more science. Technology is already in place that helps people reproduce, kill cancer, support life functions, and change appearances. It is not beyond belief to imagine that soon we may even find out a way to explore the universe on a greater level. It's amazing when you consider all of this.
What if you were to lose an arm, or your eyesight? Would you say no to technology that could give you a second chance? Who has the right to say to us that it is wrong to use our intelligence to better our society? There are many who say it is wrong to alter what is done by nature, but did not nature give us our abilities in science?
Who could say no to helping our children and their children to find a solution to the global issues of blindness, deafness, the mute? What if it were someone you cared about? What if it were you? Technology like this must be explored, advanced, and created. It is too wonderful not to be worthwhile. In the following text, I am going to tell you about some people this technology is helping, and about people who are willing to help make the world a better place.
The story of Jesse Sullivan: "Jesse Sullivan was working as a high power lineman in May 2001 when he suffered severe electrical bums. Both arms had to be amputated at the shoulders(Waldrop, S. 2007)." After amputating, they closed the wounds with skin grafts (Waldrop, S. 2007). Jesse was trained to use his new prosthetic arms, but after a period of time, the skin grafts were becoming sore and sensitive to the prosthetics (Waldrop, S. 2007).
Jesse opted for a new surgical procedure that would allow for better control and do away with the skin grafts (Waldrop, S. 2007). Jesse underwent a surgery that removed the skin graft and placed the nerve endings from the arms onto the pectoral muscle (Waldrop, S. 2007). After about 6 months, the nerves attached themselves to the pectoral muscle's nerves, and Jesse was able to fully control his new arms, pain free and with ease (Waldrop, S. 2007).
The reason this works is because the brain normally sends an electrical impulse to the
muscle which in turn moves the assigned limb (Waldrop, S. 2007). With the bionic limb the following takes place in order to close the hand on the bionic arm: The brain sends the signal to the nerves to close the hand, then the nerves (which now lie on the pectoral muscle) tell the pectoral muscle, which is connected to the circuitry of the arm, to close the hand. The pectoral muscle transfers this signal to the arms circuits, which tell the hand to close, which closes the hand (Waldrop, S. 2007). Amazing, isn't it? The story of Jesse Sullivan is one of thousands of people who now use these bionic limbs every day.
Where some people are using bionics out of necessity, others are working in a joint effort toward a better future. Research, that's what Derek Jacobs, and his parents, Jefferey and Leslie Jacobs, signed up for (Grossman, L., & Klarreich, K. 2002). The Jacobs are the first volunteers for a new project called Verichip (Grossman, L., & Klarreich, K. 2002).
Verichip is a new, implantable microchip that is injected through a wide-bore needle under the skin of the left arm (Grossman, L., & Klarreich, K. 2002). The chip will contain a few kilobytes of information and a tiny radio transmitter and will serve as a medical identification device (Grossman, L., & Klarreich, K. 2002). "There are plenty of skeptics, but Jeffrey Jacobs is not one of them" says Grossman, L., & Klarreich, K. (2002).
Grossman, L., & Klarreich, K. (2002) p3:
"In some respects Derek is a regular eighth-grader. He's quiet and
polite. He plays the drums. He used to be on the swim team before he
quit to make time for his computer business. He remembers vividly when
he first saw VeriChip on the Today show. "I thought it was great
technology," he says. "I wanted to be a part of it." And when Derek sets
his mind to a problem, he generally solves it. "Derek stood up and said
to me, 'Mom, I want to be the first kid implanted with the chip,'"
remembers Leslie Jacobs, an advertising executive at Florida Design
magazine. "He kept bugging me to call the company until I finally broke
This family is willing to go the distance and support, in a huge effort, technology of the, soon-to-be present, future. There is also a lot of debate around bionics. Questions as to why we would need to have technology implanted into our body for things that we have already mastered, for instance.
Hardy, A. (2004) says that among the arguments heard was "We have already learned to extend our senses beyond the physical body using various tools, such as, a blind person using a stick, so what would be the advantage of internal integration?" Well, there are many questions that can be answered many different ways, but as for the former-evolution, quality of life, and the improvement and advancement of technology are among the reasons for "internal integration".
We could argue all night long on the risks and benefits of this new technology. Risks, sure there will be risks. Whether it's the risk of someone trying to control another person, or using the technology in other irresponsible, diabolical ways (Hardy, A. 2004 p9 ). The point is- the benefits outweigh the risks, and aren't there always risks?
The sad fact seems to be, people fear what they don't understand. People who live in fear, are not happy people. Usually, fear becomes anger, anger becomes hate, and hate tells people to make rash, irresponsible, close-minded decisions. It's doubtful that our creations will try to take over the world. It's not doubtful that a human will, eventually, go for world domination, and if he, or she, uses technology to try, it will still be worth the pros. This is one case where the benefits do outweigh the risks.
Greater good theory- Many things in this world are done for the greater good. Many sacrifices have been made, and many more will come. People who believed in this technology so passionately that they devoted their lives to it are not to have done so in vain. Their research is coming to fruition and the results have been nothing short of miraculous.
In the future, we will see many changes. Cell phones have already begun to advance,
along with computers. Soon we will find ourselves in a plethora of technology. The medical advances being made in diagnostic and treatment technology alone is vast and awe-inspiring.
The age we are entering is a real science-fiction fantasy, and what a great feeling to be a part of it.
There comes a point when we must use logic and decide what is best for the future of our species. To deny evolution is absurd. Evolution happens, all of the time we are evolving. Why deny ourselves the technology that could give so many people a quality of life like none before?
The future is coming, the age of cyborgs is among us, and there is little we can do to stop it (Hughes, J. 2004) . Why try to stop it? Instead, we should think of the possibilities, think of how we would feel if faced with such a permanent problem, and support the research and use of bionics technology. For it is for the greater good of humanity that we pursue this dream of a better future. The next move is ours, choose wisely.
1. Waldrop, S. (2007). The Bionic Patient. PT: Magazine of Physical Therapy, 15(1).
Retrieved July 28, 2007, from Academic Search Premier database via EBSCOhost database. http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=3&hid=2&sid=635cb69a-336b-483f-a644-3b31d1acf2e2%40sessionmgr8
2. Grossman, L., & Klarreich, K. (2002). MEET THE CHIPSONS. Time Europe, 159(10). Retrieved July 28, 2007, from Academic Search Premier database via EBSCOhost database. http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=6&hid=2&sid=635cb69a-336b-483f-a644-3b31d1acf2e2%40sessionmgr8
3. Hardy, A. (2004). Intelligent Cyborgs: Science Fact or Science Fiction? Computing and Control Engineering, 15(3). Retrieved July 28, 2007, from Academic Search Premier database via EBSCOhost database. http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=11&hid=2&sid=635cb69a-336b-483f-a644-3b31d1acf2e2%40sessionmgr8
4. Hughes, J. (2004). Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the
Redesigned Human of the Future. Westview Press.
5. McGee, G. (1999). The Merging of Man and Machine. Bioethics on MSNBC. Accessed
July 12, 2007. http://www.bioethics.net/articles.php?viewCat=2&articleId=84