It is October 1 2080; Ken’s parents have just renewed their marriage contract which expires every five years. This is the seventh time. Everyone is happy and they have reasons.
Two years ago, Ken was hospitalized for a severe fracture of the spinal cord. He had an accident and many thought he would never walk again. But thanks to experts in the state’s general hospital, his locomotion was restored through an electronic implant. They have used CPG (central pattern generators) implants to reactivate his motors.
For a young man who at youth joined a faith movement that considered implants immoral and unethical, it has been a long journey. He preached against it and even atoned to die to defend the sanctity of life by preventing human defilement caused by implants. He has reasoned along with the adherents of the faith that implants challenged the creative power of the deity.
But one afternoon while visiting his parents from college, he saw a boy he knew to be blind and deaf seeing and hearing. The joy, the hope and the energy from this boy and his parents enveloped him. The boy had gotten retina and cochlea implants. Ever since, Ken decided to become a neuromorphic engineer-a designer of implants.
Generally, technology takes time to penetrate and be accepted by the population. And in our contemporary society, the resistance to a new one like implants is expected. Unfortunately, that inertia to acceptability goes beyond safety and reliability concerns to morality and religiosity. But over time, the barriers usually crack and the technology is accepted. It could be inorganic food, medical MRI, medical robots, among others; attitudes change over time regarding innovations.
In the past, body enhancements for face and breast were despised until people began to appreciate how accident victims were remade by the technologies. Increasingly, in most societies, it is normal that people may want to improve their outlooks. Similarly for implants, some view that it is normal that someone could decide to hear better, see better and walk better. The issues of morality become blurred because man by nature wants to have a better quality of life. Why remain blind when there is a technology that can help you see?
Unfortunately, bionics touches a very potent area in religion because of apocryphal misinformation by some zealots. They say that implants are designed-ready for the biblical rule where doomed men will receive the mark of beast, ‘666’, in the reign of the anti-Christ as is documented in the book of Revelation. By avoiding implants, one inherently avoids readiness for this mark.
The reality is that the design of retina and cochlea all follow the typical processes used in making the microchips that power our cellphones and computers, except that quality controls are tighter because of their critical functions. As normal is the chip in the cellphone is the biochip in the implant.
We have been transformed by the phenomenal powers of microelectronics that opened the pathway to design tools that can restore vision, locomotion, among others; yet, many still cling on dogmas, denying themselves life-saving solutions. But with time, implants will be welcomed by the whole humanity and man will become mostly bionics. Moreso, as nanotechnology matures, we will see better implants with higher efficiency and lower cost as scientists take advantage of the migration from the classical Newtonian physics to quantum mechanics that provides more affinity to biology at sub-atomic level. Technology will triumph over dogmas with multiple ‘home-runs’.
Why? While it is easy to ignore vision implants on faith crusades, most will overcome personal beliefs to have their visions back through them. And if terrorists continue to ravage the world, governments may require implants in some troubled regions of the world to help save captives. In the near future, it is possible that military personnel will be bionics.
The human instinct to survival will continue to open opportunities for science to push further. As understanding of human biology improves, more efficient breeds of implants that seamlessly capture the event driven asynchronous parallelism of the nervous system will emerge. Will that be a path to attain that holy grail of human immortality? Can humanity in 20000 years today shop for bio-grade artificial brains on the Internet? In essence, this can go beyond body parts like retina, cochlea to all body. Simply put: can man electronically create biological quality human in the far future?
Possibly, this trend will be gradual that generations will experience techno-acculturation of gradual metamorphosis of Homo sapiens to bionics. It is very interesting that people are concerned about bionics when our present computing paradigm is simply a primitive system when compared to the way nature computes. There is going to be a quantum leap in bionics when spiking communication matures so that machine and nature could talk under a similar protocol.
In our time without looking deep into the future, man will be ready for bionics as more needs emerge for them. Our doctors will prescribe drugs that will take photos of our internal tissues and when needed reprogram them while inside us. To save us time, the drugs could be assigned Internet IPs so that irrespective of our location, out doctors can still help us. In other words, it is not just bionics, but man becoming an Internet node. Will this be welcomed? It all depends on the need for survival and life.
Our society will welcome implants as they mature and the health benefits well explained. The acceptance will positively correlate with the advancement. And as the buzz over the green tech fades in few decades, bionics will take central stage. But if society rejects bionics, the entertainment industry will help us break that barrier. When top golfers get new retinas for better vision on the course, we will hail them. And when we understand how those precisions come, the world will accept the inevitable outcome: the Homo sapiens will evolve to bionics.
photo credit/ MasterNewMedia