I’ve been pretty excited about the vast strides that have been made in prosthetics for years now. The idea of hooking up the electronics to your nervous system is something science fiction has been playing with for years. It also seems like a good first step to uploading, though there is much work to be done on that end.
But for the first time, that I’m aware of, a man electing to replace his hand with a bionic one is getting a lot of press. He is not the first to cut a limb off, there are thousands of people who desperately desire to cut off their limbs. Nor is he the first to cut it off for a higher functioning prosthetic, Scott Rigsby did that because his remaining leg couldn’t stand up to the triathlons he wanted to do.
It’s also a statement of the progression of prosthetics. Prosthetic legs have been good, but barely more than high tech pegs and hands have simply been hooks with clips. Hooking a limb up to the nervous system itself is amazing. And opens the world up to incredible possibilities, like prosthetic tentacles. This progress is particularly significant, given the increase in amputee veterans. At the same time, other medical technology is improving that may make many prosthetics unnecessary. One team has managed to restore a paraplegic’s leg use with a kind of electric simulation therapy. Cloning limbs for transplant is also a possibility, though very theoretical.
What I’m waiting for is someone to remove a perfectly good hand for a prosthetic. That’ll be the day.