Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Welcome to the Future. We're Glad You Made It!


I live in a small city that is the home of a leading school for the deaf. The Clarke School has had a long standing relationship with our local and the region's hospitals and medical schools. As a result, it is not uncommon to run into folks with aural prosthetics, cochlear implants, attached to their skulls just behind the ear. These ordinary humans are cyborgs of the first design. Yes, we can give hearing to the deaf.

But, what about sight to the blind? I worked for a while with a computer science lab that worked on machine vision. Back then, about a decade ago, the smart folks in the lab thought that we'd have only a quarter century of work before they could place a chip into a Human eye and wire it to the nerves to the brain. Maybe their work would deliver sixteen pixels… enough to help a blind person not bump into a door jam or stumble on a curb.

In short order, much more was accomplished, and more imagined. So, why stop at the limits of "normal" Human vision? How about seeing in other spectra, IR and UV, even X-Ray? There's no tech that we haven't already invented to do that; it just has to be miniaturized and implantable. Why restrict these abilities to the disabled? I might like to spend my vacation money on the opportunity to see things not only with Human eyes, but those of a Honey Bee, and to hear things as a bat does.


Becoming Cyborgs…

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