The revolution is indeed underway. Money married to desire, imagination and necessity has produced a technological revolution which will see incredible changes and potential. This is not about any morbid fixation, but rather about complimentary technologies. Some religious ideologists, or ethically sensitive groups, may not approve.
They may not feel they have to.
But, someone dealing with paralysis, for example, may have some hope for a productive future. Cybernetics, which is the introduction and implementation of hardware or non-organic components, into the body, has enormous potential. Micro processors and less invasive wireless technologies ( no need for physical connection ), result in the remote control of peripheral devices. A robotic arm, to mention a simple application that everyone is familiar with, can be controlled to manipulate the external world, or perform relatively simple tasks like switching on the kettle. Simpler again, and often more important, would be to scratch oneself, when itchy. If you ever wore a cast, you'll know what is meant by that.
Artificial muscles, however crude, can be made to perform simple functions, electrically. More sympathetically though, our own muscles behave in a similar way with the chemistry replacing the "wire" or conductor.
Relatively simple, fabric-like heart valves have been made, where the finance was limited and when life demanded something.
Artificial limbs are fairly common, and can range in complexity or performance. It is fairly safe to say that we all know someone who depends on these (though it might not be obvious ).
The artificial eye is a breakthrough and is here, and though it requires refinement, it will improve. And why wouldn't it? We all know of cameras and how their images are transportable. Compare any analogue camera with its modern digitial, and versatile counterpart, if at all possible and "see" what has been achieved. The thing here is to allow a blind person, for example, to access what a camera sees, where the eye has been irreversibly damaged or impaired. The optic nerve, however, may be just fine, so an interface between a camera and it, is one approach, and the approach that has returned some results.
Artificial hearing, in its earlier form was a microphone, and then a hearing aid. An implant within the head, dramatically increases its potential. It is this type of hardware implants that cybernetics encompasses. A merging of the biological and electronic environments, if you will.
People who suffer physical injury or disease, that render them into a limited field of possibility, will be the initial beneficiaries. It is said that there is an area of the brain called the paroidal reach region, that can function, where complete paralysis exists. It runs through the plan before a physical act occurs. Some believe that where this region is functional, external manipulation is possible. A processor can be implanted; it picks up on the electrical firing activity produced, and communicates this information wirelessly, to an external device.
The theory is that if we can think it, well then we can do it.
Wasn't it Napoleon that said "If we can perceive it, we can achieve it". I really doubt though, that he was referencing cybernetics. However, it is well known that the hardware to device communication is possible.
It is also known that the device control is possible. Modern machinery from production machinery to marine vessels have what is known as dynamic positioning control. Research vessels can hold position to within five inches of any point, in the Atlantic or other oceans, under normal sea conditions. Twenty years ago, this tolerance was two foot, or feet. Special electrical motors ( though no longer considered special ), make this possible. The older technology was mechanical gearboxes that had a limited reaction time/control.
So, these or similar motor technologies, can be used for robotic arms, legs, eyes, ears, switches, switches for switches, internet connection, or indeed anything that a futuristic mind can contemplate.
What is not understood entirely, is the brain coding. Can it be figured out? Yes!
Look to the internet and the advances that have occurred. Anyone with a phone connection has access to databases, and software features to limit their labour, and such things can be thought of as brain extension. Well isn't it? If you didn't have it, you would be less capable! Complimentary tools are indeed complimentary. We are not born with them, but we are born with the power or ability to create them, where resources and some support exist, and when the time in a technological sense is right, or close to it. What is meant by that is that a caveman, for example, could have been a genius, but definitely lacked support from his peers, and the framework to achieve much.
At any point in time, none of us can do all that we want, whether we start early enough or not. Or else we don't want much, which may mean that progress is more reliant on chance than technology. Heavy debate may suggest that they are the same thing, and I suppose that none of us will surely know that either.
The best we can do is to add something and if the time/circumstances is/are right, it could blow up into something phenomenal.
Indeed, whatever we do, is in addition to what has been done before us. The neurosurgeons of today are simply adding to the knowledge base of their eighteenth century counterparts. Needless to say, you wouldn't let such counterparts near your feet, let alone your head. But they have a part to play in the success stories of today. Indeed, some might say that they were "freed" from the "blight" of litigation. That is true, but a little distractive.
You can no longer say "never", only "never, within my lifetime", and you could still be wrong, such are the modern day variables.
About The Author
Seamus Dolly is the webmaster of www.CountControl.com" target="_new">http://www.CountControl.com. His background is in engineering and analogue electronics.