Tech

Let’s All Cut Each Other’s Hands Off in 2012

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I’m dead serious. Don’t worry, it’ll be fine?see, the government has ordered “science” to have replaceable, thought-controlled limbs ready within four years…which, to nerds like you and me, means ROBO-HANDS LIKE IN STAR WARS. Reports DefenseTech.org:
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Darpa, the Pentagon’s blue-sky research division, now wants to ratchet that work up about ten notches, by developing a “neurally controlled artificial limb that will restore full motor and sensory capability to upper extremity amputee patients. This revolutionary prosthesis will be controlled, feel, look and perform like the native limb.”

The limb would have to be wired directly into the peripheral nervous system, instead of the brain-controlled arms being demonstrated today, Darpa tells researchers interested in working on this “Revolutionizing Prosthetics” project. Under agency guidelines, the arm will need enough finesse to pick up a raisin or to write in longhand. It needs to be sensitive enough for the wearer to handle day-to-day tasks in the dark. And the limb will have to be strong enough to lift 60 pounds at a time.

These are beyond ambitious goals, and even the even the big thinkers at Darpa acknowledge it. Breakthrough research in “neural control, sensory input, advanced mechanics and actuators, and prosthesis design and integration” will all be needed, the agency says in a call for proposals. Neuroscientists, roboticists, engineers, occupational therapists, and surgeons in the neural, orthopedic, reconstructive subspecialties will have to chip in.

I’ve got a good feeling about this, so I think I’m going to saw off my hand later today, just to be ready. Who’s with me?

About Author

Robert Bricken is one of the original co-founders of the site formerly known as Topless Robot, and its first editor-in-chief, serving from 2008-12. He brought the site to prominence with “nerd news, humor and self-loathing” as its motto, raising it from total internet obscurity to a readership in the millions, with help from his savage “FAQ” movie reviews and Fan Fiction Fridays. Under his tenure Topless Robot was covered by Gawker, Wired, Defamer, New York magazine, ABC News, and others, and his articles have been praised by Roger Ebert, Avengers actor Clark Gregg, comedian and The Daily Show correspondent John Hodgman, the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax, and others. He is currently the managing editor of io9.com. Despite decades as both an amateur and professional nerd, he continues to be completely unprepared for either the zombie apocalypse or the robot uprising.