A paraplegic man made the first kick at the 2014 Soccer World Cup with the use of a mind-controlled exoskeleton. Scientists have now developed prosthetic limbs that can be controlled by a user’s thoughts. This is a huge breakthrough for amputees.
There already has been a lot of progress in the field of prosthetics. These devices are smarter, lighter, and have an astonishing amount of fine motor control. Not only can users regain mobility in their limbs, they now can receive feedback from the prosthesis and regain the sensation of touch. A Swedish man trying the latest version of a prosthetic arm can now handle eggs without crushing them and also tie his own shoelaces.
Prosthetic breakthroughs aren’t limited to just mobility. Researchers created a bionic eye that enabled a blind man to see for the first time in 30 years. He can now see light forms or a pixelated version of sight. It won’t be long before they improve the technology so that he can see everything more clearly…maybe in high definition!
Why stop there? Why stop at simply restoring function to the disabled? What if they developed arms that gave you superhuman strength? What if they developed legs that made you as fast as a cheetah? What if they gave you the eyesight of an eagle? We could all become Iron Men with superhuman powers.
If prosthetics could enhance your physical capacity, maybe people will elect to trade in their perfectly working limbs for enhanced versions. Why not? People already enhance their bodies through plastic surgery and Lasik eye surgery.
Enhanced prosthetics could also give rise to a whole new class of sports, where athletes can choose to compete in an augmented universe versus a natural one. Already, people have organized an event, Cybathlon 2016 in Switzerland, which will celebrate the augmented body. You are required to have some sort of robotic prostheses in order to compete. In fact, they encourage devices that incorporate superhuman powers!
Maybe this will also reinvent our vision of what the Paralympics is about. Maybe the athletes we previously regarded as disabled will become superhuman in our eyes. Maybe we will have a future world where the disabled won’t have prostheses.
How much of our bodies can we replace and still are considered human?