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Bionic Man May Soon be a Reality 129

choongiri writes "The London Guardian is reporting on the creation of replacement eyes and working hands in the race to build a $6bn human. Currently being worked on is everything from bionic eyes to an entire exoskeleton enabling the wearer to carry 200lbs. From the article: 'The 1970s gave us the six-million-dollar man. Thirty years and quite a bit of inflation later we have the six-billion-dollar human: not a physical cyborg as such, instead an umbrella term for the latest developments in the growing field of technology for human enhancement.'"
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Bionic Man May Soon be a Reality

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  • The noise (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Saturday April 15, 2006 @01:48AM (#15134386) Journal
    But it's gonna drive everyone crazy making that Tf Tf Tf Tf Tf Tf sound. You go to put your arm around your date during a quiet romantic movie, and Tf Tf Tf Tf Tf Tf...
  • Deficit Man (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 )
    The 1970s gave us the six-million-dollar man. Thirty years and quite a bit of inflation later we have the six-billion-dollar human

    W tops that as the Six Trillion Dollar Man, due to the US Budget and Trade Deficit, all without bending steel.
  • Bannerman Smash!

    it's a comic book reference... and not a very good one.
  • I'm not gonna admit to wanting one, no, sirree!

    Besides, this is /. - who needs one?

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Saturday April 15, 2006 @02:06AM (#15134421) Journal
    I would kind of fear hackers if I had a computer-controlled hand or arm. Nasty pranks include:

    * Picking nose during job interview
    * Fingering your female boss
    * Fingering your male boss
    * Flipping off the cops
    * Yanking off in the restroom in front of the CEO
    * Typing hate mail to your fiance
    * Throwing the ball backward during bowling
    * Heavy thumb twiddling during a meeting
    * Pointing to the genital area of the projected Power Point figures and figurines during a presentation
    * Making the Satan sign while in a crowded elevator
    * Pressing the all the floor buttons while on the elevator with others without getting out
    * Sticking your hand into the cake at an office birthday party
    * Grabbing a turd from a public toilet and playing airplane with it
  • by Bombula ( 670389 ) on Saturday April 15, 2006 @02:14AM (#15134440)
    A central issue remains for bionics: will biotech make it redundant?

    Sure, having an exoskeleton that makes you stronger will continue to have utility, but will we really need bionics in, say, 20 years if new biological eyes or arms or legs can be grown using a person's own DNA?

    • Other way around (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Cybert8 ( 968584 ) on Saturday April 15, 2006 @02:28AM (#15134464)
      Who needs biological when you have mechanical! Do you want a blind spot? Do you want to have to blink? Biological is in no way superior.
      • Biological is in no way superior.

        I disagree on the point of longevity. Biological has superior longevity due to the body being able to heal itself. Mechanical, as of this moment, can only enhance biological qualities and sometimes mechanical can't even come close. Joint replacement is an example where mechanical simply cannot compete (yet) with biological joints.
        What about a bionic woman? It would be nice if someone thought about me so I could get some benefit from all this technology.
        • It only needs to be able to heal itself because replacement parts are neither cheap nor easy to install.
          • Nope. You need the ability to heal yourself to do the following:

            1) Save money (you mentioned this)

            2) Save skill (you mentioned this)

            3) Save DETECTION (you failed to mention this). You only fix problems you realize are there. If you don't notice the tiny scratch, performance gets degraded without you realizing. Over the long term this builds up. With accurate healing, it doesn't.

            4) Save TIME. Again, even if it were cheap and easy and instantly detectable, it takes time to fix. Healing happens slo

      • What bullcrap. Biological is FAR superior.

        What's more, those things you describe can be eliminated using biological methods. If we wanted to. Much of those kinds of things, such as the blink exist to INCREASE efficiancy. The only problem is they are not controlled.

        Blinking is part of the human eye's maintance program. It is automatic.

        Yes, we COULD design a piece of crap mechanical device that needs a human to remember to do a maintance clean up. Or we could have it automatically run in the back gro

        • When's the last time you had to clean your digital camera? Certainly not every few seconds. And you didn't address the blind spot, something no camera has.
    • I think the point of this research is to develop systems that surpass natural systems in specific ways; for example, bionic eyes might have a zoom feature, something that biotech companies would have problems creating from your DNA. Eventually biotech will surpass bionics, but at that point we won't be "human" anymore. We'll have designed ourselves into a new species.
    • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Saturday April 15, 2006 @02:41AM (#15134483) Homepage

      Sure, having an exoskeleton that makes you stronger will continue to have utility, but will we really need bionics in, say, 20 years if new biological eyes or arms or legs can be grown using a person's own DNA?

      Many futurists foresee humanity leaving behind biology and joining with hardware and machine bodies. That's the vision of the future in Kurzweil's The Age of Spiritual Machines []. Silicon is growing at such an exponential rate that if trends continue there will be no need to continue with all these chemical solutions.

      One interesting question raised by this story is what world religions will think of these enhancements. Orson Scott Card conjectured in Speaker for the Dead [] that the Catholic Church would condemn what is essentially a cell phone/PDA, which is funny nowadays when so many people are walking around with a Blackberry and Nokia's never faced a sectarian boycott.

      • Sentience may require a few chemicals, but everything outside the brain could be replace essentially now.
        • Re:Some chemicals (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Spy Hunter ( 317220 ) on Saturday April 15, 2006 @03:49AM (#15134604) Journal
          No robot body has yet come within a light-year of the elegant structure of the human musculo-skeletal system which allows us to move so flexibly and fluidly while being quite damage-resistant and lightweight. No energy storage device can even come close to the human body's ability to go for weeks without fuel. No motor or artificial muscle offers the excellent performance characteristics and efficiency of biological muscle. Our senses of touch, smell, and taste have not been replicated in hardware; though specialized sensors exist they don't perform equivalently. And the long-term durability and automatic self-repair of the human body is completely unmatched in the mechanical world.
          • A more powerful muscle was just announced. Oh, and nobody expects artificial items to "perform equivalently". They will far outpace.
            • Not sure about the "more powerful". The quote I found was:

              "University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) nanotechnologists have made alcohol- and hydrogen-powered artificial muscles that are 100 times stronger than natural muscles, able to do 100 times greater work per cycle and produce, at reduced strengths, larger contractions than natural muscles"

              It does say "100 times stronger", "able to do 100 times greater work per cycle", but I'm not sure what the "produce, at reduced strenghts, larger contractions" part impli
      • Many futurists foresee humanity leaving behind biology and joining with hardware and machine bodies

        No knock on Ray Kurzweil, but I think it's a bit short-sighted (when looking to the longer-term future) to consider biology and hardware (or electronics, chemistry, mechanics...) as different. At the molecular level, these things all merge into one combined field. And we're going to have to get to that level (i.e. true nanotech) before any of this can really happen to the extent that we're discussing (movin
    • "Sure, having an exoskeleton that makes you stronger will continue to have utility, but will we really need bionics in, say, 20 years if new biological eyes or arms or legs can be grown using a person's own DNA?"

      I don't see why not. The big distinguishing difference between bionics and biotech is interchangability. Put a 'grown eye' into somebody's head, that's it, it's not going anywhere without a lot of complicated surgery. Put a bionic eye in somebody's head, he can upgrade to a newer fancier version
    • I think we'll end up exploring both routes. Whichever is more viable will end up taking the lead. Twenty years may be a long time, an especially long time in the technological world, but one never really knows where we'll end up. Predicting future technology seems to be as difficult as forecasting weather.

    • This is actually a hard decision for parents considering cochlear implants [] for their deaf children. They wonder should they implant a device now that can enable their kids to hear, even though it most likely would make future therapies involving growing of cochlear hair cells impossible.

      As one follow-up poster said, the human body is intricately designed by evolution, and a hard act to beat. Unfortunately, it's also hard to figure the thing out. For parents of deaf children, they can give them something t

      • Actually the more concerning situation is when two deaf parents prevent a child from having the implant, because it "Destroys the deaf community" Sorry but what? Your gonna deny your child the chance to hear because your worried about destroying the deaf community? OMFG I wont say much more, you can guess my opinion on this subject.
  • We can rebuild him, we have the technology. Damn I'm old ;) []
    • Obligatory Family Guy reference: We have the technology, we can rebuild him. But I don't want to spend a lot of money.

    • But let's not forget the high school kid who had some work done on his spain and it gave him some bionic-like power, Steve's old friend who had four limbs, Max(amilion), two groups of aliens - one just visiting, the other with a hidden location, guarded by Bigfoot, etc.

      I stil have (all of the) the six books.

      In the original book, his left arm was bionic, not his right, and he had a dart gun in his middle finger.

      Oh, and let us not omit Sandra Bullock, the "next generation" of bionics (ca. '89) where s
  • by vodkamattvt ( 819309 ) on Saturday April 15, 2006 @02:17AM (#15134448) Homepage
    And it is the bionic penis. As soon as these companies realize what the drug companies found out ... boner pills and bionic penises = $$$$$$$.

    Yes Im serious, and no, I dont think it will replace my "pen-is mightier".

  • by Cybert8 ( 968584 ) on Saturday April 15, 2006 @02:23AM (#15134455)
    Actually it is for a fair amount of people. is a good place to start. Extropians are still around (from a recent mailing list post at least). A common thread is frustration with these types of technology being addressed only to the disabled by short-sighted people. Think for a moment how you would feel if given transhuman powers, then have them taken away. Quite disabled, right? Join our growing dream. The singularity is near.
    • I feel that the transition to abundant human technological enahncement will come through the gateway of helping the disabled. In terms of need, it could be argued that they are the one that should be addressed first. Calling the desire to help disabled persons "short-sighted" is a bit harsh though. Once technology is created it goes where it is paid for.

      However, once the technology is available to augment a disabled person ABOVE the proficency level of a non-disabled person you will see many non-disabled
      • I think a lot of people all around are short-sighted when it comes to transhumanism. Why are life expectancies around 80? It should be a few billion, depending on what physicists say about heat death. And I'm grateful to all the disabled. They get to test the stuff I'll use later.
  • Yeah, it's the $6 billion dollar race towards domination through the corporatization of our bodies. It's as if raping our dreams and pillaging all of our known natural resources weren't enough, they are now sooo gung-ho to destroy the very essence of our being human. Greedy, lying, Sexist slimes, I say.
    • Sorry you feel that way, and you might be right, but, uh... I'll have a drink for you when I turn 135 :-)
    • You certainly seem to have mastered abandonment of human communication via the use of meaningless slogans. "Corporatization of our bodies", "raping our dreams", "very essense of our being human".

      I challenge you to define these, especially the last one. What is the essense of being human to you, that bionic implants would destroy it?
    • Rape: forced or manipulated nonconsensual sexual contact, including vaginal or anal intercourse, oral sex, or penetration with an object.

      Dream: a series of mental images and emotions occurring during sleep

      raping our dreams: ????

      Care to help define that?

      • Look, it was obviously uninformed knee-jerk hyperbole (I'm an expert in that) but I'll try to help explain this to you, futile though the task may be. In English, words often have multiple meanings. That means you can sometimes say "raping" and not mean literal forced sexual intercourse. In the GP, this useful property applies to both the words "raping" and "dreams". It seems to me that the most likely combination of meanings is that (a) people hope to extend their lives and avoid the pain, discomfort and l
    • Corporatisation a bad thing? Slap a Coca-Cola logo on my ass if I'll be able to work on my car without tools (being strong and dextrous enough to undo bolts with my fingers) and see through walls or clothing!
  • []

    C'mon, Mech totally kick bionic man's ass!
  • The biggest question : How big is his penis going to be? :-)
  • 6 billion Dollar man (Score:2, Informative)

    by siewsk ( 603269 )
    Plot Summary for

    "The Six Billion Dollar Man"

    When ace test-pilot Steve Austin's ship crashed, he was nearly dead. Deciding that "we have the technology to rebuild this man", the government decides to rebuild Austin, augmenting him with cybernetic parts which gave him superhuman strength and speed. Austin becomes a secret operative, fighting injustice where it is found.

    Air Force Colonel Steve Austin, an astronaut who had walked on the moon, is almost fatally injured in a plane crash. Many of his damaged parts
  • I thought it used to be the Six *Million* dollar man. Talk about inflation...
  • *London* Guardian?? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dynamoo ( 527749 ) * on Saturday April 15, 2006 @03:58AM (#15134629) Homepage
    It is of course the Manchester Guardian traditionally, although it is published now in London. Although the name changed in the fifties, the popular Radio 4 presenter Brian Redhead [] stubbornly referred to it by it's original name until his death in 1994. Partly as a result of this, many people still refer to it as the Manchester Guardian. The London Guardian it is not, and never has been - I guess the British Guardian newspaper might annoy pedants like me less ;)

    Although I think most people still call it the Grauniad because of it's historical propensity for tpyogarphical errors.

  • [i]Thirty years and quite a bit of inflation later we have the six-billion-dollar human: not a physical cyborg as such, instead an umbrella term for the latest developments in the growing field of technology for human enhancement.[/i] So not really the six million dollar man, but we can't come up with anything more imaginative to say, so we, being geeks yearning for the pop culture acceptance that we claim to abhor, make stretch a campy reference as far as it will go. This isn't your father's Robbie the R
  • Six billion dollars worth of bionic man exoskeleton prototypes is bound to make for a lot of fall guys. Thank you. I'll be playing the Venetian and Bellagio lounges all next week.
  • Eight years ago I broke my elbow, and now have two metal pins in there that the consultant proudly boasted cost 350UKP each, which, I worked out at the time, came to about $1000. The One Thousand Dollar Man sounds much better than The 700 Quid Bloke.

    Doubtless there are slashdotters out there with more expensive hardware in them than me, and I imagine a prosthetic limb can be $10,000. But it was a nice round number for me.

    And all done on the NHS (state health insurance scheme)

    • Thank you...

      ...for a hearty laugh.

      ...for reaffriming my fear of rising socialized healthcare in the US.

      • Hey dont knock it. They did a fine job, my elbow is good enough I can still do chinups, and only when the consultant mentioned it (on my last visit to the orthopaedics and physiotherapy unit) did I even *think* about the cost.

        Sure there's this big number on my payslip that gets deducted to pay for all this, but its far less than any private healthcare system and it works pretty well.
    • I think I have you by tenfold with my artificial right knee. Installed in me in 1997 by Dr. Scott [] (an highly-recommended surgeon with almost no bedside manner) I'm headed for another knee replacement on the left, due to a kind of osteoarthritis that runs in my family.

      The article shows several major advancements and is nothing really new. I heard about the experimentation on the artificial eye some years back. The prosthetic hand is a pretty good advance, though it has a way to go to match the fine motor co

  • Exoskelingtons are SO Terra Nova... Bring on the mechs!
  • back in 74, he only cost 6 million.
  • I was recently looking into this area and I'm actually surprised that bionic prosthetic arms aren't commonplace by now. Granted, I'm a bit new to all this stuff, but for example, let's say you have an amputee who's lost his arm from about halfway between the elbow and shoulder. The median nerve is a large group of nerve cells that runs through the center and controls most of the muscles below the elbow (you'd have to tap some other nerves for elbow control). Now, with groups of needle sensors implanted in t
    • It would be nice if the state of the art were further along, but I can tell you that active research in advancing the use of prosthetic limbs is taking place at Northwestern University. There's a clinical investigator who is doing a study involving the use of an amputee's remaining muscle and nerves in the stump to control a prosthetic limb in at least two degrees of freedom. So instead of a muscle twitch say only opening the hand, the user would be able to both open and close the hand. If the techique bein
    • HELLLLOOOOO!!!! neural net? what do you call the human brain then? Just wire it up any old way and in a few weeks the person will have learned how to work it. There are bionic hands around that are controlled by signals from muscles in the stump being flexed, that work in the same way.
  • my iRobot stock hits $50. THen I'll be the $1,500 richer man. Yeah big deal I know.
  • Excuse me (Score:1, Redundant)

    But what on Earth is the "london guardian"?

    The Guardian used to be called the Manchester Guardian, then it moved to London where it was called simply The Guardian. There's no such thing as this 'london guardian' you're talking about.
  • With this new power the non-geeks will bow at our feet! We are greater they are lesser! All I would need is a replacement of every limb I have to make me stronger... I am just thinking now about how much faster I could type... 1000 words per minute! WHA HA HA HA!
  • I'd be careful with these terms.

    Heres the definition I got from wikipedia:
    "The term cyborg, a portmanteau of cybernetic organism, is used to designate an organism which is a mixture of organic and mechanical (synthetic) parts. Generally, the aim is to add to or enhance the abilities of an organism by using technology."

    Now the first sentence means its an organism thats both flesh and machine. This means the machine should be an innate part of the organism, to the level its not the organism anymore without th
    • I have something that by your definition, makes me a cyborg. I have an artificial ear, specifically, a cochlear implant. I lost my hearing several years ago in an accident and I was an optimal canidate for the procedure. The external battery and program is on a belt clip, a wire runs up to a magnetically attached microphone behind my ear. Beneath my skin, capacitors fire in my middle ear to reproduce sound. All said and done, I have about 75% hearing. YMMV. I take it off at night, or when I don't want to he
  • Imagine if I could carry 200lbs...

    Oh wait, I can. Granted, not for long distances, but I hardly find this impressive. Heck, my wife lifts more than that on a nearly daily basis. Now, one of the guys in my office can squat nearly 600 lbs, THAT is impressive. And yet, somehow, he manages to do it without any technological enhancement.
  • hand + eye = "Bionic Man May Soon be a Reality"?
  • Talk about giving birth to good ideas... [] ot_x.htm

    I wonder if they can add complications such as put the doll in a coma, or a series of convulsions, or program it to give out Exorcist-like wails and moans. If she hurls up a noxious, caustic, corrosive pea green soup-like fluid, I wonder how the students will react.

    Now, if they make one of Kess' mother, having delivery occur while the mother is wrist-strapped to an overhead rod as the infant emerges from her
  • Wasn't a bionic hand all it took to create Skynet? I think we're screwed.

Last yeer I kudn't spel Engineer. Now I are won.