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Engineered Enhancers Closer Than You Think 344

Posted by michael
from the steve-austin dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "Happy 2035! Thirty years from now, we'll use bionic eyes giving us 'zoom vision' for faster reactions. Nanobots injected in our bloodstream will complement our immune system. Artificial muscles built with electroactive polymers will help us to be stronger and faster. So you think it's science fiction? Not at all. You'll see that some people are so convinced that this kind of human enhancements will happen that they predict than in a few decades, all sporting events 'will be split up to accommodate enhanced and unenhanced athletes.'"
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Engineered Enhancers Closer Than You Think

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  • Medical needs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Friday December 31, 2004 @08:46PM (#11231244) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps in thirty years we could obtain some degree of enhancement for our eyes that would be optically based. However, a more pressing (and needed) benefit will be a cure or fix for folks with vision loss. "Zoom lenses" and such could relatively easily be accomplished with bionically enhanced optics, but the real trick is going to be designing and implementing the hardware/wetware interface and creating true bionic retinas. Bionic implants for retinal degenerations as currently implemented are not going to work for a variety of reasons (read my doctoral dissertation [utah.edu] to find out why), but there are other approaches that can be taken or modifications that will be successful (part of my current work). Also alternative ways of implementing the interface cortically will likely have some success (not my work, but it is of my colleagues). Artificial retinas are going to be harder than artificial cochleas for the hearing impaired or cortical control of motor functions which are both applications that are having some success currently. The retina is a much more complex tissue with (in our eyes) 55-60 different classes of neurons all wired together in a precise manner to generate proper signals for image interpretability. As an interesting aside, I have said this before on Slashdot, but human eyes are pretty pathetic in terms of their sophistication. Birds, fish and many reptiles have much more sophisticated retinas that perceive what we would term a multi-spectral visual world. A visual scene much richer that the simple three-space world we currently see.

    • Does anybody remember the Discovery Channel show "Beyond 2000?" Does anybody have a flying car?
      • Re:Medical needs (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tsa (15680)
        Exactly. All these predictions are just a load of crap designed to get attention. I hate this stuff. Remember that in the '60s we would have nuclear fusion power plants within ten years? I'm still waiting, just as I'm waiting for my affordable fuel-cell powered car (which has been coming 'within ten years' for the last 100 years or so). I didn't RTFA, now you know why.
      • by mormop (415983)
        The BBC program Tomorrows World came out with the classic line By the year 2000 computers will make the use of paper obsolete. This one is only really matched by the idea that in the 21st century, machines will be doing all the work and we'll have much more leisure time.

        • Computers are starting to do all the work, with the exception being the available cheap labor (which in the US are: Mexicans [Local Labor], Indians [IT], Chinese [Manufacturing], and South Africans [Call Centers]). But unfortunately the only we that have much more leisure time are the business owners, as the rest of us are clamoring for a job, or pulling our hair out worrying that our position will be the next one deprecated for the next cheap outsourcers. In a way I'm glad the value of the American dolla
    • by GuyMannDude (574364) on Friday December 31, 2004 @09:13PM (#11231385) Journal

      As an interesting aside, I have said this before on Slashdot, but human eyes are pretty pathetic in terms of their sophistication. Birds, fish and many reptiles have much more sophisticated retinas that perceive what we would term a multi-spectral visual world. A visual scene much richer that the simple three-space world we currently see.

      Evolution gives organisms the tools they need to survive, not necessarily what those organsims might put down on their wish lists. The ability to sense the world in such detail is much more important to the survival of those creatures than it is for human beings. This is a feature, not a bug. Since this is slashdot, I'm going to assume that you are very familiar with the epsiode in Star Trek where Kirk outmaneuvers aliens with vastly superior intellect and technology. How does he do it? In order to operate the Enterprise, these creatures had to fit themselves into human bodies which have senses that are much more hightened than those of their normal form. Kirk simply overloads their senses to the point that they can't think straight. Just yesterday we had an article here on slashdot about how people are having trouble dealing with the flood of new information available to them. Be thankful that our eyes are more limited than those of birds, fish, and their ilk. Our brains are already having trouble keeping up with the world around us. The day we start seeing in the IR and UV parts of the spectrum, that'll be all the more for us to process on a second-by-second basis.

      Good luck with the research. I'm gratified to know that at least someone thinks that this technology should be used first to assist those who are disabled and then used to give super-powers to the rich. All too often medical research caters to stupid things like baldness cures instead of focusing on cures of cancer and Alzheimer's.

      GMD

      • Since this is slashdot, I'm going to assume that you are very familiar with the epsiode in Star Trek where Kirk...
        ...The day we start seeing in the IR and UV parts of the spectrum, that'll be all the more for us to process on a second-by-second basis.

        Well, since you're using Star Trek as an example, Geordi La Forge didn't seem to have any problems with his enhanced vision.

        • Not true, there are examples of him going to sickbay because using the VISOR gives him headaches, he had to be trained to interpret what the colors and patterns meant, and that takes a lot of time and effort. He was one of a handful of people who could successfully use it.
      • I can remember in the news a while back there was a russian girl who was able to see in either normal vision, or a kind of x-ray-stylé vision. Anyway, she was learning to be a medical student and there were several tests done to prove the authenticity of it all, she correctly managed to predict that somebody was going to catch cancer, amonst other seemingly impossible feats. I can't recall the best source so I'll leave a google link [google.com] so you can read for yourselfs. She seemed to be coping pretty well for
    • Re:Medical needs (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jerf (17166) on Friday December 31, 2004 @10:10PM (#11231629) Journal
      Birds, fish and many reptiles have much more sophisticated retinas that perceive what we would term a multi-spectral visual world.

      We'd call it "multispectrum" because we don't see there. But we see "multispectrum" too... otherwise what do you call red, green, and blue? The curves for those receptors don't completely overlap.

      Of course human eyes aren't a proper superset of every eye's capability in the world. There isn't room in one eye for that, and if you did jam it all in you'd be bitching about our crappy resolution! But they are quite good for what they do, and the brain behind them is unsurpassed, if you consider seeing not just as raw pixel collection but as understanding the world. Nobody else has a visual system that can read.

      Artificial eyes will be cool but it's going to be hard to jam any more info down the optic nerve and through the visual system that we already are unless we do a full brain replacement.
    • I have a friend who can't smell due, to a chlorine incident. I'll bet that's even harder than vision/hearing to fix with bionics. We have electronic sensors for those, but smell is a lot harder to measure electronically.

      I guess it wouldn't be too bad. I remember a few good looking girls I might revisit if it weren't for... ah never mind.
  • Almost a reality (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SIGALRM (784769) * on Friday December 31, 2004 @08:46PM (#11231247) Journal
    we'll use bionic eyes giving us 'zoom vision' for faster reactions
    Indeed many blind or vision-impaired people have hope today from nanotechnology like this. Scientists are experimenting with thin, photosensitive ceramic films that respond to light much as rods and cones do. Arrays of such films could be implanted in human eyes to restore lost vision.
    • Will there be some way to provide a view beyond just zoom? Will it be possible to create a tool that allows you to have better horizontal coverage and be more aware of stuff that isn't right infront of us?
      • I doubt that this will be possible without a major reworking of your brain. I am no psych major but I recall that your mind's eye is all you can see, which is the same as your regular eyes. Picture a building in your mind, now have it move towards you, the top of the building will be too tall for you to see and disappear out the top of the cavas that is your imagination, and to include the top of the building you will have to zoom out. And all of this is just in your brain and has nothing to do with your
    • Sorry, I intended to post a link to NASA's research [slashdot.org] on this subject.
    • Re:Almost a reality (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BWJones (18351) *
      What we are going to need however is 1) a way of understanding how the retina is currently constructed (believe it or not, but after 150 years of study, we still don't know exactly how the circuits in the retina are constructed) and 2) how to interface the new films or chips to the cortex to make sensible visual signals. I am optimistic this can occur but we are still a number of years out.

      • "2) how to interface the new films or chips to the cortex to make sensible visual signals."

        Wasn't there a story not too long ago about a guy who recieved an artificial eye that could see 16 pixels or something like that?

        Ring a bell with anybody?
        • Re:Almost a reality (Score:4, Informative)

          by BWJones (18351) * on Friday December 31, 2004 @11:09PM (#11231854) Homepage Journal
          There was the Wired article [wired.com] and Slashdot articles about the Wired article talking about a gentleman who has used a system set up by William Dobelle. This system uses a grid of electrodes on the surface of the cortex that generates phosphenes or perceptual points of light. What is not accomplished here is any real correlation with the points of light and the grid of stimulating electrodes. Furthermore, the phosphenes are not consistent among many other problems and potential problems with the Dobelle system. Also, it should be noted that William Dobelle was not granted permission to use this system in the United States and thus had to move to Portugal where he has these systems implanted in patients and he has not been entirely honest with his patients and what they can expect from these systems. Finally, the approach with surface mount electrodes requires significantly higher current to stimulate the cortex (think complications of epilepsy, and his patients have experienced seizures) than with other systems like Richard Normann's system which uses an implantable electrode array.

    • by lukesl (555535)
      I think that research is interesting in the short term, but ultimately what we want is the ability to regenerate a normal retina. And in the end, I think the retinal regeneration technology will win out over the artificial retina technology.
    • Fine by me, just as long as THEY [lycos.nl] look like THIS [halley.cc].
  • 30 years ago (Score:2, Insightful)

    by odano (735445)
    30 years ago they said in 30 years we would all be driving flying cars and would have the moon colonized, so I'm not sure how much I can trust predictions like these.

    Although it is easy to say with the speed technology is moving things like this will be invented, I am sure there are some giant problems that will need to be solved first, and unless we get lucky I dont think these new technologies will be available in my lifetime.
    • I'd say it was more social limitations that prevented these events from happening.

      1. Flying cars
      We have trains that "fly" above the tracks. The reason people don't have flying cars is there is enough people killing themselves in regular "stay on the ground" cars.

      2. Moon colonization
      If the cold war had not ended and the competition still existed, there would have been a lot more space activity.

    • And in the sidenotes the predictions often said something about linking computers and being able to communicate across continents more easily... :-)

  • Teeth? (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by SharpFang (651121)
    There were some rumors on developing a technique of implanting stem cells or something like this to regrow missing teeth. Any news/details about that?
    • Yeah the news is the government nixed stem cells. Sorry to be the one to report this.
    • You won't get this information from the mainstream media. According to too many $tvnews, $majornewswebsite, and $radionews broadcasters, the Catholic Church thinks that ALL stem cell research is bad (evil / will send one to hell).

      In fact, the Catholic Church teaches that fetal stem cell research is contemptable because those cells are derived from aborted babies.

      The use of adult stem cells are OK, as adult organ transplants are OK, and adult stem cells are already in use in a number of cases.
      Fetal stem
  • So that's what all these "enhancement" emails I've been getting are about.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Slashdot editors, WAKE UP [slashdot.org]! Stop posting everything Roland submits, please!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 31, 2004 @08:49PM (#11231267)
    It's like Jerry Springer for geeks. Please kill me.
  • Athleats with normal 20/20 vision getting laser caritotimy to correct their vision to higher acuity than 'normal' 20/15 or 20/10.

  • by orthogonal (588627) on Friday December 31, 2004 @08:50PM (#11231272) Journal
    You'll see that some people are so convinced that [these] kind of human enhancements will happen...

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, I keep getting email about "human enhancements".

    But no nanobot is going to make this geek cool. ;)
  • by rainman_bc (735332) on Friday December 31, 2004 @08:52PM (#11231280)
    , all sporting events 'will be split up to accommodate enhanced and unenhanced athletes.'"

    Isn't that the difference between pro and amateur?
  • I hear that by the year 2000 we'll even have flying cars!

    To the future!
  • by mikeophile (647318) on Friday December 31, 2004 @08:53PM (#11231288)
    Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world's first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better ... stronger ... faster.
    /obligatory
  • by TrumpetPower! (190615) <ben@trumpetpower.com> on Friday December 31, 2004 @08:55PM (#11231297) Homepage

    In thirty years, will Roland Piquepaille still be spamming Slashdot?

    Cheers,

    b&

  • Steroids? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kaedemichi255 (834073)
    There are athletes being "enhanced" right now. In my opinion, although those certain biotech innovations are probably not realistically going to arrive in the mass market in just a few decades, perhaps the use of technology in the medicinal/health sectors will spur the development of new ways of practicing traditional medicine that may ultimately have the same effect as the sci-fi-ish inventions we dream about.
  • Any time I see nanotech discussed I always see someone panicing about "grey goo". Could someone please explain to me the whole "grey goo" phobia?
  • Gene Roddenberry predicted a war between enhanced humans and regular humans. Remember? Khan? And then there was another war like that later in the 21st century I think. Either way, both sides had significant casualties. I wouldn't be surprised if it actually happened, would you?
    • Originally, the Eugenics Wars were set in the late 21st century (around 1996), according to "Space Seed." The war later in the 21st century was from a throwaway line in a DS9 episode, and a blatant attempt to make up for the fact that the Eugenics Wars didn't really happen. :)

      Greg Cox has lately authored a good series of ST novels on the Eugenics Wars. He recasts it as a kind of "behind-the-scenes" thing centered around real life events. The enhancements to Khan and his bretheren mainly seem to focus on mu
      • Originally, the Eugenics Wars were set in the late 21st century (around 1996), ...

        Um, I'm sure you know you're stuff, but I'm also sure that 1996 was part of the late 20th century....

        ???

        C/
    • Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

      Sorry, couldn't resist :P
  • Pilots (Score:4, Funny)

    by Nine Tenths of The W (829559) on Friday December 31, 2004 @09:04PM (#11231347)
    What would this mean for pilots, given the strict perfect vision/no eye damage requirements they have?

    And, more importantly, when can I get razor blades that shoot out from under my fingernails?
    • Re:Pilots (Score:2, Funny)

      by GoogleBot (729748)
      ...And, more importantly, when can I get razor blades that shoot out from under my fingernails?

      Im not sure about that, but on a related note, anyone know where I can find a cowboy named Case?

      Apparently, he may be able to do some work for me...

  • by omnirealm (244599) on Friday December 31, 2004 @09:07PM (#11231358) Homepage

    Nanobots injected in our bloodstream will complement our immune system.



    Actually, I do not think we will have a choice in the matter on this one. Before too long, there will be hostile (or just poorly designed and self-replicating) nanobots that will kill us when they get into our bodies. We will need some sort of immediate defense against this new threat; if anything, an outbreak caused by a malicious type of nanobot will spurn the development of the nanobot that complements our immune system and defends against the malicious nanobot. This sort of thing has long been addressed in science fiction novels, but it seems like something that is closer than we might imagine.

    • by oGMo (379)
      Before too long, there will be hostile (or just poorly designed and self-replicating) nanobots that will kill us when they get into our bodies.

      I dunno. I don't see a big difference between this and a biological weapon, except that biological agents are cheaper and easier to develop. Why bother with nanotechnology when a simple plague will do? Or for the individual, just a well-placed bullet?

  • by Zarhan (415465) on Friday December 31, 2004 @09:08PM (#11231367)
    ...all sporting events 'will be split up to accommodate enhanced and unenhanced athletes.'"

    Judging by the number of athletes that get caught for using different kinds of doping substances at every major event, this is reality right now.

    I have been wondering if we should do a split now; ie. have separate races for "boosted" athletes and another series for "traditional". The boosted version could have all kinds of medical companies as sponsors...Think of that bodybuilder with Pfizer tattooed on his muscles. Of course, life expectancy drops to around 30 years until the heart explodes, but at least you get famous.

    Maybe they could even have separate points for "athletes" and "teams" like in motorsports. Teams would have loads of MDs coming up with better and more powerful stuff...

    Since I really don't care about traditional sporting events at all, but this version might be fun to watch from an (bio-)engineering point of view.
    • I have been wondering if we should do a split now; ie. have separate races for "boosted" athletes and another series for "traditional".

      ...and who's going to watch the non-boosted events? Will companies choose to sponsor the athletes setting records, or those who "just" take first place? Who will the networks cover?

      Do you think that Major League Baseball is asleep at the switch, when they tell their players months in advance about an upcoming drug test, and 50+ players STILL get caught doping, and MLB

      • ...and who's going to watch the non-boosted events? Will companies choose to sponsor the athletes setting records, or those who "just" take first place? Who will the networks cover?

        In recent years women's tennis has become as popular as men's tennis. Now part of that has been due to the "glamourization" of the female athletes, I admit. But part of the increased attention is due to people losing interest in the men's game. The men have gotten to the point where the serve is a very major component of th

  • Artificial muscles? Bionic eyes? If the name 'Genom Corp' or 'Brian J Mason' is attached to any of the patents, then by 2032 (or 2040, if you prefer) we might have more to worry about than athletes cheating at the Olympics!
  • by ewanrg (446949) * <ewan.grantham@gm ... minus herbivore> on Friday December 31, 2004 @09:09PM (#11231373) Homepage
    Personally, the two enhancements I'm looking forward to are:

    1) Augmented memory. No more forgetting names or passwords. Though it does add some real interesting issues for DRM (can you force me to forget a movie after remembering it X times)

    2) Direct connect to the net - the ability to check GPS to figure out what I might be looking at, or the apocryphal doing google searches when asked a question would be very useful.

    Just my .02 worth...

    ---

    It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a blog [blogspot.com]

    • You can already do these.

      1) Augmented memory. No more forgetting names or passwords.

      Actually, mnemonic techniques [web-us.com] give you that, you know, like those 'memory man' guys that can remember the names of the entire audience? That's how they do that.

      2) Direct connect to the net

      I already have that :-)

      - the ability to check GPS to figure out what I might be looking at,

      Geocaching [geocaching.com] and it's kin?

      or the apocryphal doing google searches when asked a question would be very useful.

      I used to do that in audio co

    • the two enhancements I'm looking forward to are: Augmented memory [and] Direct connect to the net

      I don't doubt this will be possible in less than 20 years, thirty easily. But think about it for a second. You're talking about your memory being a node on the network. A server. The data stream from your eyes and ears can be online, instantly, replicated, stored in petabyte RAIDs somewhere. Likewise, you will be able to "remember" sights and sounds by pulling them off the network.

      What we're going through now

    • The direct connection to the net would pose some problems in schoools, where the richer kids would have that acess to Google and basically get answers subconsciously. Would this be fair? No. It would be just like the cell phone text messaging situation today.
    • 1) Augmented memory. No more forgetting names or passwords. Though it does add some real interesting issues for DRM (can you force me to forget a movie after remembering it X times)

      I find choline and piracetam [ceri.com] works remarkably well for this purpose. At higher dosages, I find my memory can be enhanced to the point of being photographic; furthermore, it leaves my mind unnaturally limber and quick. The effects remind me of what I like best about dextroamphetamine (or even low dose methamphetamine), minus
  • "all sporting events 'will be split up to accommodate enhanced and unenhanced athletes"

    I recall a comedian talking about performance enhancing drugs and the people who say it is ok for an athlete to enhance their performances with any means they can. His response was "Ok, you enhance yourself with steroids, I'll enhance myself with this motor car."

    I am an athlete that is enhanced by being encased in metal in which my power is increased to several hundred hp.

    PS: "happy new beer" "Crappy glue fear" "Snappy
  • by Scrameustache (459504) on Friday December 31, 2004 @09:14PM (#11231392) Homepage Journal
    Thirty years from now, we'll use bionic eyes [...] science fiction? Not at all.

    When you're making predictions about the future, hypothetical applications of current scientific research, you are making science fiction!
  • Who cares about being able to bench cars? Admit to yourself how rarely this would be useful and grow as a human being.

    Of course, usefulness has little to do with the first cybernetic implant on *my* christmas list in 2020.

    The Mr Stud's Implant. [passagen.se]

    Every robot will have a 12" steel johnson. [goats.com]
  • by lukesl (555535) on Friday December 31, 2004 @09:16PM (#11231402)
    I feel like I see articles like this all the time, and the underlying current is one of thinking that there are all these engineering breakthroughs that will make things that operate better than the native biological system. Engineers often tend to think this way, not unlike the carpenter who thinks the moon is made of wood. As a biologist, I may be somewhat guilty of the opposite bias, but the truth of the matter is that engineers have seldom been able to make materials and machines that operate as well as their biological counterparts. For example, artificial joints and teeth are all vastly inferior to their biological counterparts, and they will be for a while yet.

    My point is that human enhancement will occur, but this article grossly underestimates the role molecular biology will have in the near future. For example, to make soldiers with more endurance, you could try replacing their blood with an artificial substitute, or you could give them recombinant erythropoeitin to increase their red blood cell count. The EPO injections are trivial (ask professional bicyclists), but after years and years of research, we still don't have an acceptable artificial blood substitute.

    As far as artificial muscles go...that is just ridiculous. To think that in 30 years we will be implanting stuff like that into peoples' bodies. We will be growing muscle tissue in vats and implanting long before we deal with artifical stuff. However, first we will be using relatively simple methods to locally control muscle growth (like small molecule inhibitors of receptors for hormones that inhibit muscle growth, etc.) That alone will be huge.

    I think the real lack of conceptual understanding has to do with the evolutionary perspective. Basically, humans are incredibly good at doing things that humans have to do in the wild, and the only easy enhancements that we can make are "enhancements" that actually decrease our fitness from the hunter-gatherer perspective. For example, stronger muscles require a huge food intake, so they're selected against. In this day and age, that's easy to get around, with steroids or other technologies. It's easy to increase endurance with EPO injections, but there are obvious problems (e.g. death) associated with that as well. People seem to think that it will be as easy to improve cognitive abilities or immune system function, but that's just wrong. Our brains and immune systems already operate pretty much at their optimum, and claims that we could simply inject "nanobots" that improve the function of either are ridiculously ignorant.
    • Decrease in fitness is relative to the enviroment. An organism that my be fit in one niche may be completely unsuited to survive in another. Humans are not the pinnacle of evolution; they are simply well suited to living in temperate climates on a planet with Earthlike qualities. Would humans survive "as is" on Mars? No. Humans for example do not have protective fur to walk with aplomb unassisted in arctic enviroments nor large lung capacities and high oxygen carrying capacities to plumb the depths of
  • by Alceste (138400) on Friday December 31, 2004 @09:18PM (#11231412)
    In thirty years slashdot will still be enamored with poorly researched, jargon infused, poorly written future-bation.
  • Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gyan (6853) on Friday December 31, 2004 @09:18PM (#11231415)
    You'll see that some people are so convinced that this kind of human enhancements will happen that they predict than in a few decades, all sporting events 'will be split up to accommodate enhanced and unenhanced athletes.'"

    What's the difference between enhanced and unenhanced?

    Isn't the athlete from a rich country with well-equipped training facilities, tailored nutrition and good trainers already an enhanced athlete compared to an athlete from some small 3rd world country?

    This dichotomy to what constitutes enhancement and what doesn't smacks of a medieval perspective of the human condition.
  • Good.... (Score:3, Funny)

    by mikeswi (658619) * on Friday December 31, 2004 @09:18PM (#11231416) Homepage Journal
    Because I can't see across the friggin living room to the TV without my eyeglasses.....
  • What? (Score:4, Informative)

    by YOU LIKEWISE FAIL IT (651184) on Friday December 31, 2004 @09:19PM (#11231423) Homepage Journal
    So you think it's science fiction? Not at all. You'll see that some people are so convinced that this kind of human enhancements will happen...

    I can go down to the local crystal shop as well and find people that are convinced the unicorns and fey folk are coming back - this doesn't make it any less fictitious.

    Sadly, in this world, wishing don't make it so.

    YLFI
  • I didn't RTFA (just the news story) and from what is covered there, just grab some steroids, cocaine and some over-prescribed glasses. No need to wait.
  • by Eudial (590661)
    Some 40 years ago there were scientists that believed we'd have flying cars and a sightseeing trips to mars by now.

    My point is that you shouldn't believe everything you read.
  • by Compact Dick (518888) on Friday December 31, 2004 @09:34PM (#11231493) Homepage
    ... I will need a new handle.
  • I suggest everyone read the book The Postman. The movie was loosely based on the book but leaves out the more interesting parts about human enhancements for military use and such. It's really quite a good book regardless to if you liked the movie or not.
  • This is definatly a good thing in my opinion. While it may cause trouble for sports (as the title says) it should help the rest of us.

    I think that the human race has basically reached the point where we aren't controlled by natural selection. Thanks to modern medicine we can save people who are in serious car wrecks and such, people who would otherwise be alive. But we also save people who have problems of their own doing or genetics. People get organ trasplants who are born with otherwise debilitating (an

  • by michaeldot (751590) on Friday December 31, 2004 @09:42PM (#11231529)
    If so, I sure as hell don't want Microsoft providing it.
  • IF this article is correct, this will have an interesting effect on jobs which require physical as well as mental characteristics. Everyone will be able to have 20/20 vision, the muscle and endurance to perform the most gruelling types of manual labour or pass the entry requirements for elite military forces, the physique necessary for certain types of "acting"* etc

    *On this note, does anyone know how I could reserve the name Robocock?
  • by Clueless Moron (548336) on Friday December 31, 2004 @09:58PM (#11231582)
    I want my goddamned flying car. It's been promised for fifty years now. Stuff your nanotech, bases on Mars, and robotic maids:

    WHERE'S MY GODDAMNED FLYING CAR???

  • Im guessing that medical ethics will come into play and that allot of implants will be a no-no unless they are to repair damage. Having said that, plastic surgery is pretty common place now most people know someone whos had a nose or boob job but mostly thats done to make someone look more 'normal' - a nose shaped like a bullet or size 50 breasts just look stupid so its slightly different than gettin extra vision. Also allot of enhancements will be genetic and that already has a pretty strict medical ethic.
  • Uebermensch [webster.com]'s are the way of the future. Even without the advent of engineering feats we might be able to, one day, use the full potential of our brains thus truly giving rise to mind over matter.

    On vision: In 1975 I asked my eye doctor why they didn't perform surgury on the eye to correct the lenses. I was told it was impossible to operate on the eye because of how delicate the human eye was. Well.... My thoughts on engineering a better eye are that, in some cases, the lens is removed and replaced by
  • by shirai (42309) on Friday December 31, 2004 @10:45PM (#11231769) Homepage
    One idea that I rarely, if ever, see addressed is that we may very well have seen the end of natural human evolution. Before you reject this idea, think about it for a moment.

    I'm sure we all know how evolution works, by killing off the least efficient *versions* of our species and allowing the most efficient to breed.

    Well, in first world countries anyways, EVERYBODY can breed, and live and breed again. In fact, one might argue that some of the most intelligent of our species either (a) have difficulty breeding (ahem) and certainly in many cases (b) breed later in the game. And (b) is just as significant for if one group breeds 50% more than another group, the former group becomes dominant.

    Now, I'm not saying smart people necessarily breed less and that unsuccessfully people breed more and earlier but there has always been a cultural tie between career oriented people marrying later in the game.

    And certainly, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of natural selection. Until the next epidemic comes out and wipes out the non-immune half of the population, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of natural selection going on anymore. I wonder how this will affect our species a thousand, ten thousand or hundred thousand years from now.

    Perhaps these human augmentations are the new form of evolution for humans.
  • As well as fucking moon bases and mars colonies.

    Wake me up when I can get jacks implanted at Radio Shack, or buy a digital "camera" that comes in pill form.

    Remember, the widget isn't here until all the ghetto-fabulous wastoids you run into in downtown have one.
  • and copter belts. We'll still be waiting for those, too.
  • It just sounds too similar to be coincidental.

    While there are some instances of life imitating art, what often ends up actually happening is that reality surpasses anything the artist might have originally imagined.

    This looks to me to be little more than idle fantasy.

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