What’s the future for us? What will we be like in the future? Let’s try to imagine this appearance. For example, each of us dreamed of jumping over a car, bending metal bars with the help of hands, seeing clearly in the dark, and also running fast and doing other wonders in general. Now it’s just dreams, the fruit of a stormy fantasy, while unrealistic and unimaginable desires.
We live in a very interesting time – the world is changing before our eyes and it is technological progress that helps people to change the appearance of the future. At the present stage of achievements in the field of biotechnics, new scales of real prospects of mankind for changing the very essence of our biological species are opening up.
By improving the integration of the nervous system with prosthetics and implants, as well as powerful and compact energy sources, people will be able to fully transform themselves. In short, even if something happens to him, he will be “repaired” using the latest technological advances. In addition to arms and legs, the cyborg will also need the senses – at least the eyes and ears.
Upgrading the brain will not hurt, but since purely artificial intelligence is a separate topic, we will consider possible improvements for the biological brain in this material. Unfortunately, as with arm and leg prostheses, the vast majority of the developments described are still at the stage of research and laboratory copies, and the prices for them are prohibitive.
However, this is always the case with new technologies, and the very fact of their existence gives a very real prospect for commercial implementation – because each new product in this industry brings closer to reality, not only dreams of cyborgs, but also gives hope for a return to normal life for people who have lost for one reason or another some functions of the body.
Artificial organs on the way to cyborgIn all human organs, brain intervention is the most difficult. What can I say, even if all its possibilities are not fully explored … Nevertheless, certain brain manipulations are carried out, mainly for the purpose of curing diseases.
A professor at the University of South Carolina has created a chip that can replace the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for short-term memory and spatial orientation. Since the hippocampus is often impaired by neurodegenerative diseases, this chip, which is currently undergoing laboratory testing, can be an indispensable tool in the lives of many patients.
Institute of Biochemistry have been able to combine living brain cells with a semiconductor chip after extensive research. The importance of the discovery is that this technology makes it possible to grow very thin tissue strips on the chip, so that it will allow for a very detailed observation of the interaction of all nerve cells with each other by detecting signals sent by cells through synapses.
Not so long ago, the California company Neuropace developed an electrostimulating device for epileptics called the “Responsive Neurostimulator”. The working principle is that the device holds back the flow of uncontrolled pulses during seizures by means of electric discharges from an external source.
The Neuropace device consists of a compact neurostimulator that is implanted with a set of wires in the human skull, as well as a battery and a miniature specialized computer that constantly monitors electrical activity in the brain. Neuropace tests have been carried out on hundreds of patients, and almost half of them have a satisfactory result.
Since 2005, a fairly large group of scientists from several European countries has been conducting research and development within the framework ,the goal of which is to create a microprocessor that simulates 200,000 neurons united by 50 million synaptic compounds.
They will need several thousand of such processors united in a cluster to fully reproduce the work of the human brain – but when this is done, humanity will be significantly closer to the creation of artificial intelligence.
Eyes are one of the most important organs of the human being, because it is with the help of eyes that a person perceives most of the incoming information about the world around him. Nowadays millions of people on the planet suffer from various diseases of the organs of vision.
In order to correct visual defects, it is required not only the intervention of doctors, but also physicists, chemists and technologists. The modern development of technology gives hope that a person in the future will get healing and will be able to see the world in all its beauty.
To date, there are no commercially available solutions that could at least partially replace the completely missing vision – in fact, there are only known for several centuries glass eyeballs, providing only external resemblance to the lost organ.However, in the form of prototypes there are already devices that finally change this situation.
After a long process from theory to practice, scientists at the University of California managed to create a prosthesis that is able to perform the functions of the retina. At this stage of testing a person is able to see only a blurry picture, but the future prospects are quite positive.
This prosthesis is arranged as follows: a camera is mounted on the frame of glasses, through which the image is transmitted directly to the surviving neurons in the retina. In order to convert the incoming video signal into pulses capable of perceiving nerve cells, a special hardware-software converter had to be developed.
A camera on the glasses transmits the image to a microcomputer that converts the video signal into electrical pulses. These pulses directly affect the optic nerves through the implanted electrodes, which in turn transmit the signal to the brain.
There are two other variants of artificial eyes based on the same principle. A group of specialists from the Bionic Vision Australia Consortium (which brings together scientists from five research institutes and universities in Australia) presented their bionic eye at the University of Melbourne.
Last but not least, Second Sight Medical Products Inc. has recently announced that it will begin clinical trials of The Argus II eye implant. About 10 people have agreed to participate in the experimental program, and the cost of one bionic eye from Second Sight is $100,000.
It should If at the present stage there are only 60 of them, then in the near future this number is planned to be raised to 1000, which will radically improve perception – not just by transmitting light spots, but by providing a much more complete picture of what is happening around them.
But the approach of the British, who have developed the BrainPort technology, fundamentally differs from all the above described in terms of the method of information transfer. The idea is that a person should begin to see with the help of… language.
The exterior of the device, as usual, includes a small video camera mounted in a frame of glasses and a converter that converts the signal. However, instead of retinal electrodes that transmit data to the optic nerves, BrainPort is equipped with a small tube with a rectangular transmitter that needs to be placed on the tongue.
Electrical pulses are transmitted to it and, depending on their intensity, a person can detect the presence of obstacles on the way. This is a kind of anecdote about the non-standard method of removing the tonsils, but the price of the BrainPort test is much lower, for example, Argus II and is 18000 pounds.
As for the optimization of the existing one, not the restoration of the lost one, a very curious approach to improving the vision capabilities is proposed by a group of scientists from the University of Washington, Seattle.They created contact lenses with integrated LED, radio antenna and receiver.
In the “full-fledged” version, of course, it is assumed that there are more possibilities – up to the translation of the image into the retina in HD-format, when the technology has reached the appropriate level. Such lenses will allow to effectively implement the “augmented reality” without the use of glasses, as well as such tricks as, for example, image approximation. But even in the existing version
Recently such achievements were impossible at all and only the technical progress of the last decades made it possible at least to approach, for example, the functional replacement of the eyeball. Moreover, in almost all cases the authors of inventions claim that the prospect of further improvements (including very significant ones) is quite obvious – it just takes time to continue development.
It is very important that all these discoveries help people to adapt to normal life, but no less interesting is the fact that in the near future the achievements in the field of artificial organs will not only return the lost functions, but also make the average person stronger, more enduring, more attentive and, perhaps, even smarter.