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Testing The First Cyborgs 155

D3 writes: "The Washington Post has an article on what may be the first cyborg. The article also lists some other pretty cool stuff going on. Soon we'll also be able to relieve ourselves on a microchip to test for cancer as well." I'm still waiting for the spring leg implants that let me leap buildings, but this is a good first step. The eel-robot has been on before, not so some of the other things.
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Testing The First Cyborgs

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm not joking, but this is just sick. Not even in the name of technology do we have a right to be doing this. It simply disgusts me. If we want to try stuff like this, experiment with it on humans. Eel today, monkey tomorrow. We don't have a right to be doing this.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have a degree in biology, and I think this
    is sick... It shows an absolute disrespect
    for living things.

    You think animals exist for the purpose of being
    disected and mutalated for fun?

    I don't have a problem with experimenting on
    animals if it will yield benefits for humans
    - I consider it a necessary evil, but I don't
    see how this has anything to do with
    benefiting humans. There is nothing that they
    discrible in that article that could not be
    done by a computer/robot combination alone if
    enough AI research is done. This is just
    an attempt to cheapin' the process and short
    cut it.

    Hands up for those of you (especially
    the ones making all the borg jokes) think
    that having your brain controling a hockey puck
    with christmas lights, instead of your body, would
    be a great way to live.

    Fuckin' eh. That's what I thought.

  • > Gort! Klatu Barata Nikto!

    Is that an allusion to Army of Darkness [] or The Day the Earth Stood Still []? (It could be either, but I'm just curious about how you intended it)

    Alex Bischoff
  • Strange as it may seem, used to resolve [] to the "People Eating Tasty Animals" website.

    Alex Bischoff
  • I'll give animals "rights" as soon as they start observing the responsibilities that those right entail.

    So you have a right to kill small, irresponsible children?

    Or...So humans are responsible creatures, since we do things to the planet and other species that will probably result in all life on earth being destroyed if we don't stop?

    I agree mankind wouldn't have got this far without enslaving animals. And the US wouldn't have gotten this far without slavery. How does the ends morally justify the means?
  • Why don't you go read that book you link to? It's about not pushing your pig-headed morality on others.

    Yeah. Define "others." You say it would be wrong to kill a small(but born) child. I say it would also be wrong to kill a chimp that is probably smarter than many retarded humans. I say it would also be wrong to torture even less intelligent animals(and yes removing your brain and integrating it into a cyborg's body is torture)

    You make the assumption that animals don't have the same rights to life as humans, and then use that assumption to criticize my opinion that animals shouldn't be harmed.

    ANBIYD says if you, or you and another consenting adult, wish to do something that may or definitely will harm one or both of you, that is your perogative. It does not say that you may force other intelligent beings to submit to pain, torture and death because you don't consider them as worthy of life as you.

    BTW, there are chimps that can much more articulately express their displeasure with what is being done to them than small children or the mentally retarded.
  • by Byteme ( 6617 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @11:55AM (#285156) Homepage
    ...add some wasabi and it is a Hot Wheels.
  • by GypC ( 7592 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @11:29AM (#285157) Homepage Journal

    This depends on how you define cyborg. Is the definition "A living brain with a robot body," or is it, "A mixture of living and technological parts that make a functioning whole?"

    If you ask me, the latter definition makes more sense, and therefore I submit that cyborgs have been around for a long time, at least since the first feasible artificial hearts were successfully implanted; and I'm sure someone could come up with examples that predate that.

  • Shit man, take a pill. And please stay away from a computer. I don't want any "right wing code" to accidentally find it's way into the Linux kernel.

  • by PD ( 9577 )
    They could just change their name to PETCA (people for the enthical treatment of cuddly animals) and that would leave the scientists free to experiment on leeches, wasps, eels, spiders, scorpions, and other animals that don't appreciate all that we have done for them.
  • Keep the bio out of mechanical? OK, since you're not using your arms and legs. Of course, many people would be reluctant to give up their big mouths.

  • Very sorry to hear about your accident. I'm hoping everything turned out within episilon of OK in the aftermath.

    I think there is a general assumption that by "cybernetic (body part)," we mean a body part that is (1) artificial and (2) computer assisted. For example, unless your shoulder had an embedded processor to handle certain functions, it wouldn't qualify in many people's books as cybernetic. Not that it's not cool. :)

    I think computer assistance could do wonders for artificial limbs...they wouldn't even necessarily have to *control* the limb, they'd just have to *adjust* the limb for different circumstances (e.g., rock climbing, bicycling, using an automobile). This could open up a whole new world of accessibility for those with certain disabilities.

    Another idea, relatively simpler: computer assisted glasses and hearing aids.

    ObJectBridge [] (GPL'd Java ODMG) needs volunteers.

  • by Phexro ( 9814 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @12:12PM (#285162)
    well, i don't think they'll care. after all, they're for the ethical treatment of animals.

    now, if the People for the Ethical Treatment of Disembodied Eel Brains (PETDEB) hears about it, that's a different story.
  • Given that he said "Gort!" I'd have to say
    "The Day the Earth Stood Still"
  • Of course... so you're saying that the "left" has
    discovered that the human soul is located in the... spleen?
  • By the way, anyone have any thing of Bill Gates?

    Huh? What good would that do? I mean, bugs obviously don't bother Bill Gates.

  • There shouldn't be any problem. As far as I can tell, animals only have rights if they're cute, and eels aren't even fuzzy, much less cute.
  • At last we'll soon know whether cyborg ants can be trained to sort tiny screws in space.

  • Why waste the money on the robot parts? We've been breeding fully human sociopaths for centuries. How would not having a soul really have made your average Hannibal Lecter any worse?

    On the contrary side, if the soul isn't colocated with your center of self-awareness, then is it possible to take out the soul and transplant it into someone else? Could I get two souls that way? This quickly becomes an absurd discussion...

  • I read the same book. I believe that the Bibliofind [] search I just did on a half-remembered title has turned it up--it's The Man Whose Name Wouldn't Fit by Theodore Tyler. The fellow's name was one letter too long, you see, and it aggravated him a great deal to keep getting mail with the last letter of his name chopped off.
  • "lamprey eel brain that was removed, kept alive in a special solution"

    "The chicken heart was kept alive in a lab, in a vat filled with a special solution.
    One night a careless janitor knocked the vat over.
    He went to get a rag to clean it up.
    The chicken heart grew.
    The janitor returned with a rag.
    The heart ate him.

    I got MY Jello ready in case that brain comes after me.


  • Harold Hawkins, head of the Office of Naval Research's bioacoustics program, notes that a dolphin can map the sea bottom in its mind's eye with "one, or two, or three" pings from its echo-location system, while the world's fanciest side-scan sonar needs dozens of slow passes to build the same picture.

    Does this idea bother anyone else? I know he didn't say it outright, but the author certainly hints that at some point we might want to use dolphin brains to do more accurate sonar. This kinda bugs me. Maybe I'm overreacting.

    Then again, computers might be able to dynamically reprogram themselves very nicely if they had RMS' brain trapped inside doing their bidding. Anyone ever read "Satan, His Psychotherapy And Cure By The Unfortunate Doctor Kassler"?

    I'm not saying that we have to do something about it... it's just weird.
  • As long as we are grafting cybernetics onto biologics what new options would you like?

    I'd have to go for the vision enhancements. I'm a very visual person, I learn best by seeing.

    I'd like spectral enhancements, nothing too crazy, just low infrared, and upper ultraviolet, but I want filtering so I can select on a small range of the avalible spectrum. Zoom would also be nice, again not crazy 48x would be good. But most important the ability to record what I see. A low power transmitter so I could save the images/video to a near by device.

    This is all I ask (probally wouldn't hurt to get the hearing done at the same time).
  • He probally says, "I have a gun, nobody move, and nobody gets hurt!"
  • The reason science (and no one else) has found out what "intelligence" or "consiousness" is, is much because they are inherintly ambigious. If you can't get people to agree what is "intelligent" or "coincious" then you will have a pretty hard time explaining it.

    My favourite (scientific none the less) theory is that consiousness is dependent on self referation. If something is capable of knowing what the self is in an abstract way, then it is consious.

    Naturally not many animals (besides man) gives a very satisfactory answer if you ask them. ;-)

    The problem with many "thinkers" as you call them (assuming you mean philospohers) is that they generally think and then come up with something unproveable and useless and designate it "truth". Science at least attempts to get rid of such nonsense. (It may be an /interesting/ thing to think about, but that doesn't make it true or even sane.)

    For interesting ideas as to what /isn't/ intelligence check out some AI books. It is generally considered there that what you can make a computer do is NOT intelligence. So little by little we get to the point. (You know, what ever is left when the other stuff has been removed.)
  • This is great! Reverse engineered Borg built with animal brains! hehe.

    We are the Borg.

    It has recently be brought to our attention that you are attempting to reverse engineer proprietary Borg Technology. This will cease immediately. Failure to do so will result in nasty letters being sent by Legal Unit iii of paragraph 6 subsection MMCMXVII, calling for a cease-and-decist of this function.

    Failure to comply with Legal Unit iii of paragraph 6 subsection MMCMXVII's request will result in immediate assimilation and subsequent assignment to the Legal Unit pool of Drones.

    Further. We request that you immediately destroy all sites containing Electrospace Conduits to your site. Failure to do so will reault in immediate assimilation and subsequent assignment to the Legal Unit pool of Drones.

    We additionally require that you direct us to any associates that are similarly engaging in the illegal reverse engineering of Borg Technology. Failure to do so will result in immediate assimilation and subsequent assignment to the Legal Unit pool of Drones.

    Thank you for your co-operation and we look forward to working with you in the future.
    Please prepare for assimilation,

    ii of III of the party of the first part
    Legal Contact Unit
    Unimatrix 0
    Borg Space
  • Why can people not accept that?
  • by ArchMagus ( 32772 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @12:02PM (#285178)
    It's just a bit torturous to transplant the brain of a creature and start giving it inputs that don't really resemble how it's supposed to work. What do you think the chances are that the impulses that are being sent to the brain are causing it pain, and it's reacting to that. I don't think I like the prospect of my sight and smell being replaced with raw electrical inputs...sounds like we'd be immersing these little creatures in one unending acid trip.
  • by ajs ( 35943 ) <> on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @11:50AM (#285179) Homepage Journal
    How, I have to wonder, do we define cyborg. The traditional SF term, which means a melding of man (woman?) and machine is satisfied in the abstract by people who walk down the street yammering at the air because they have a hands-free cell phone.

    In the more concrete, Christopher Reeves is clearly part machine (without artificial respiration, he would die, though he's gotten better at breathing on his own for short periods). So, we have to ask ourselves, at what point does medical assistance create a cyborg? Is it only when the result is, in some way, fast, stronger or "better" than an average human, or is it when the human and the machine rely on eachother to exist?
  • Must be "The Day the Earth Stood Still" because Gort was the name of the robot and not mentioned in the AoD Necronomicon cemetary incantation.

    I am NOT a geek... I am NOT a geek...
  • I am NOT a geek... I am NOT a geek...

    You know, I was almost ready to give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume that, despite a general non-geekiness, you just happened to have that one general bit of geek movie knowledge. Then I got to your .sig. ;)


    This is a .sig.
    Now there are two of them.
  • Although I hear the nagging module will be hard-wired

    HAR-COURT! Harcourt Fenton Mudd, you've been over eating again and drinking....

  • I am fluffy of borg, resistance is futile.
  • I suspect this is being done for the sake of time travel. It is well known that if machines want to travel back in time they need to be hidden inside a biological organism like a human body. These machines are working on cyborg research so that someday they will be able to travel through time to steal motor cycles, wear black leather jackets and kill their enemies.

    You will be able to tell who they are by their thick Austrian accents and their slow monosylabic speech patterns.
  • How do you explain to them why you set it off?

    Have you ever been to any thirdworld-like countries where they are skeptical?
  • A half-human creature with the body of a machine...
    ...would be the perfect /. troll?

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms |

  • It is unfortunate that while our scientific researches hae done much to disprove our anthrocentric view of the universe, anthrocentrism prevails in every discussion of ethics, including the ethics of science. Members of other species are given near zero ethical consideration, no matter how much like us we learn they are.

    Our studies of nature are giving us great knowledge and power; but little wisdom or compassion.

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms |

  • by meadowsp ( 54223 )
    Star Trek isn't real. You do know that, don't you?
  • They have had machines with living components ever since The Flintstones!
  • I may still get to acutally become the 6-million dollar man.....

  • I would think it would be a lot cheaper to breed a bunch of vermin to be used as cannon fodder than build big minesweeping equipment.
    Funny you should mention that, because in WWII, the best way to clear a minefield was to drive a herd of domesticated animals through it (IE: cattle, pigs, sheep, etc). The farmer was never happy, but it was cheaper, faster, and generally more thorough than manual methods.
  • Wow, that's a scary thought because I can completely see the consumer demand for a "real" dog that doesn't leave a mess, eat, and can be shut off (paralyzed/hibernation). Once someone starts to get serious about something like this and the demand is high enough then politicians get bought and protesters are removed/ridiculed in the media. This could easily happen in techno-phillic Japan, with their dog renting services and strict no-pet policies in most buildings.

    Lets hope doggie AI is advanced before this becomes feasable and profitable.
  • A more robust, efficient respiratory system?

    A pain switch? Might be useful for when you know you have to undergo something REALLY painful...

    Toxin detection/filtering for the digestive and circulatory systems? Or maybe simply quicker breakdown of byproducts like lactic acid?
  • Maybe he's a fan of Descartes whom, if memory serves, suggested that the pineal gland served as the bridge between mind and body.
  • And any religion provides an answer besides "Because"?

    "God" is not an answer; the term is merely a label applied in lieu of a proper explanation, and usually signifying lack of further intent to search for an explanation. Hence, phrases like "Act of God" and "God moves in mysterious ways" get applied instead of answering possibly unanswerable questions. It's the ultimate excuse.
  • like in Snow Crash. There's just something very appealing about nuclear powered bionic pit bulls that can run at supersonic speeds.

    The cats wouldn't stand a chance...

  • If they changed the brain out with Bill Gates' brain.. I can hear the scientist's memo's now:

    "knee-jerk reaction is the same, but instead of light, it reacts to large sums of money..."

  • Will I have to feed my calculator? Tell my receiver it's been good and give it a pat? Give my computer a haircut every other month?

    I don't know about the rest of you, but I want to keep the bio out of mechanical.


  • Just wire some logic into one of those realdolls ( or something. i'm at work and afraid to pull it up...).
    Then you could have the ultimate sex machine.. or something closer to Woody Allen's Sleeper.

  • Of course, I meant you can't tell to look at it... (sigh) And in answer to the question I saw in replies:

    Yes, I've been to a thirdworld-like country and set off the alarms. They generally search that part of my body, see the scar, and decide it's ok.

    It came out fine, thanks. Took a year to heal fully, and it'll always be a little weaker than the other one, but it works, which is one HELL of a lot better than the state it was in after the accident.


  • by drin ( 83479 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @11:29AM (#285201)
    Of course, it depends on whose definition you use. By many technical standards cyborgs are already here:

    A cyborg is a cybernetic mechanism, a hybrid of machine and organism []

    Or this one...

    (1) an organism with a machine built into it with consequent modification of function; (2) an organism which is part animal and part machine. []

    By this definition, approximately 10% of the U.S. population (I don't have figures for other countries, sorry...) are already cybernetic. Take my own situation, for example. A motorcycle accident two years ago left me with a right proximal humerus made of chromium steel and titanium. In other words, I have a cybernetic shoulder []. You can tell to look at it, and it functions completely normally, but it's there.

    And yes, I set off the metal detectors in airports... :)

  • Sharks with frickin' "Laser" beams strapped to their frickin' heads. Or, maybe just some ill-tempered sea bass.

    Or dogs that have bees in their mouths, so that when they bark they spit bees trained to seek di-nitro toluene at you. Yeah, that's the ticket.

  • Eels are members of the kingdom animalia, so they are animals in the scientific meaning of the word, but the normal english meaning doesn't necessarily include them. Or, at least one of the normal English meanings doesn't include them. My webster's gives "mammal" as one of the meanings of animal. I can also see meanings that include all land animals (birds, reptiles, mammals, amphibians) to the exclusion of fish.

    If I tell you a dog is not a fish, you'd think I was on crack. If I tell you a whale is not a fish, you'd think I was telling you something that you already knew. "If a whale were not a fish, no one would feel the need to say it isn't" (my english professor booth). So English allows that whales are fish. Hebrew allows (or did) that bats are birds.

    But anyway, I must be off, so that I can go register
  • 1. We're a product of evolution.
    2. Evolution is natural.
    3. We're part of nature.
    4. What nature does is natural.
    5. If nature wants to wire eels up to robots and send nuclear powered rockets to jupiter, that's natural.

    It's all a bunch of bullshit. When's the last time you saw a lion asking permission before ripping in to a nice juicy Springbok? Do cats care that they're destroying the Australian ecosystem? Do locusts care when they destroy some area of whatever type of environment they eat? No, not one bit. At least we have some degree of foresight. That's a lot better than nature does herself.

    Yes, I think you do have a right to kill small, irresponsible children. Up to the end of the second trimester.

    Anything that can make its displeasure known deserves some rights. "Some rights" means not being tortured for fun. It doesn't mean letting people die because we're unwilling to kill a few hundred million rats in research labs.

    If, as PETA would like us to, we all killed ourselves right now, guess what? All life on earth would be destroyed in a few billion years. If we strip mine the solar system to get the fuck out of here? Well, then we have a chance.

    Why don't you go read that book you link to? It's about not pushing your pig-headed morality on others.
  • Well look, you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.

    Substitute "cyborgs" for "omelets" and "feeding electrical current into the disembodied brains of people with poor medical insurance who would otherwise have died, until they wear out" for "breaking a few eggs" and you get the idea.

    I'd really dig being a cyborg. Maybe I can just plug my head into my computer when I have work to do, and send my body with a simple electronic brain out the gym while I'm busy.
  • I'd be afraid if they ever hooked up maybe a worker ant's brain to one of these things... []

    - [grunby]
  • with a live dog's brain?

  • I always had the impression not that cyborg parts are specifically 'computer assisted' so much as they are in some way better than the original...'enhanced'. Possessed of greater strength, stamina, or structural toughness. After all, the term cyborg has been around since the days when most people believed a computer that fit in a single house and weighed less than a few tons was amazing =)

    weirder still though, is what will happen when natural, genetically engineered, prosthetic, cyborg, and nanotech parts all come together. I can only begin to guess what the world will be like then..

  • I am Eel of Borg, resistance is futile!
    You and your machines will be lampreyed.


  • Prosthetics have been around forever, but they're just simple Mechanical Engineering

    They're not as simple as you make them out to be. If they were, you'd see perfect replicas of all limbs by now. Check out this Design News article [] dated a couple of months ago.

    Artificial limbs are still being perfected, either in the area of materials or design. Up to now, artificial joints had to be replaced every few years due to wear. A new plastic has been recently developped to increase the lifespan of these devices.


  • I'm disappointed that there are no pictures of the robot.. the idea is very funny, though.
  • just like in the "dark ages" of western civilisation, horrible things were done and repeated many times: horrible tortures, the catholic church, millions of innocents suffering at the hands of "god" - their local noble etc ad nauseum.

    I agree... we should revamp or re-invent computing as soon as possible: we know many of the current mistakes and problems and their causes. However, as knowledge is spread, the rest of them will realize that animals are friends and not food; of course many of these realizations will come as billions die of starvation.... but hey... evolution will continue despite technology.

    enjoy now while it lasts, because next has the potential to be very different......

  • I STILL think you're on crack. But at least it's entertaining.

    However, even by your reaoning an eel is an animal by PETA standards. They're generally preety gung ho about protecting all animals, even the ones that aren't cuddly. I think the only animal that they don't include is humans.

  • ... of course I'm sure PETA will catch wind of this sooner or later.
  • Ummm eel... animal...eel...animal. At which point is your ability to make connections breaking down?

    Seriously, the brain had to come from somewhere, unless we are now growing eel brains in a test tube. In which case PETA would still get involved.

  • God 1, Cyborg 1
  • When I was little and I had no sense, I took a wiz on an electric fence

    I actually saw a guy do this a long time ago. He screamed. :)


    "I'm surfin the dead zone
  • > Wait until the wheeled light-seeking eels rule the planet with cruel inhuman efficiency.

    Oh man, can I use that as a sig? That is the weirdest statement I have seen in a long time.

  • The brain lacks the nerve endings to feel pain itself, this is true. The nerve endings here are wired directly to those photosensors though. I do think the pain centres of the brain are located in the main area though, and so the 'brain stem' (The bit behind and below the brain where the spinal cord in humans) is unable to feel pain in and of itself.
  • If you can't see the advantages of this then consider how it'll affect medical science when major spinal injuries can be fitted with a 'motivator' unit to allow them to control their own arm. No strange mouth-joystick, just thought. Consider a CCD device being connected to a blind person's optic nerve.

    A small light-seeking robot is not a major stepforward in and of itself, what is the step forward is connecting the nerve endings to a microchip directly.

    Whether this kind of experimentation should be done is debatable. At the moment I'm thinking 'Yes' since the lamprey is truly dead, and it's only the brainstem that we're using.. when it's a higher lifeform and the entire brain I may reconsider unless they can give convincing reasons why this couldn't be performed on a lower lifeform.

  • In Iowa, entomologist Tom Baker has built a device for finding land mines using tiny moth antennae that emit signals to microprocessors, which transform them into different tones.

    I wonder if he used his sonic screwdriver...


  • PETA... People Eating Tasty Animals?
  • This page [] has an awesome pic of that remote control roach made in Japan in, what, 1998? I guess that doesn't count as a cyborg...
  • I think I would define a cyborg as more having the electromechanical parts attached in a non (easily) removable way.

    Digital watches would not make a person a cyborg - though a pacemaker would.

    The question is wether a prosthetic limb would, as such a device is removeable. Comments?
  • Eel, rat, monkey, human when it's worked out.

    If you ever had antibiotics, been vaccinated, or needed any sort of surgery, then quit whining. You're only alive bcos ppl used animal experiments to work out what was happening. Would you rather your kids/family died than that animal experiments were done? bcos this is absolutely an either/or. There is no third choice. Experiments on tissue samples don't give the full picture, and there isn't a mathematical model that'll simulate an animal properly.

    So how's this useful then? Well, think Christopher Reeve, or any other patient with spinal damage - if you can wire up to the brain then you can bypass the damaged section and let them control their bodies again. Or anyone who's lost a limb could be given an artificial one which works properly ("Luke Skywalker" hand, for instance)- current ones are all just kludges.

    If you see this as plain wrong, you're likely in the minority. Explain _why_ we don't have a right to be doing this. Animals do NOT have the same rights as humans, otherwise we wouldn't be eating them - that's a fact of every culture on the planet. And I do eat them, and enjoy doing it.

  • Well, none of these new cyborg technologies would be of any use for me; if I had a rat-brain-powered vacuum, my dog or cat would eat it immediately.
  • Does PETA do anything, but be annoying on these issues?
  • Yeah its cool having wasps and bees that hunt down diseases.
    Imagine being at an airport and seeing some smelly lady get carried away by a swarm of giant stink-wasps!

  • Cool - like a tamagotchi thing, only it can really die!!

  • In Georgia, Lewis has patented a hand-held "biosensor," and puts his wasps -- much smaller than the bees -- inside. When the insects smell an odor, they duck their heads to receive the reward, tripping an electric eye. Lewis said such a device could work well searching for explosives at airports, cocaine at the border, or even traces of disease in odors from the human body.

    Doctor: "Please drop your trousers and bend over, Mr. Johnson - this won't hurt a bit..."
    Patient: "Um, doctor, what are you doing with that wasp? HEY!!!!!!!"


  • How long before we have Inspector Gadget?
    Will we have to get an annoying niece and her dog that would help Inspector Gadget out, while he bumbles along?
    I mean, the array of gadgets in the story just wasn't impressive:
    • Go-Go-Gadget Eel
    • Go-Go-Gadget Wasp
    • Go-Go-Gadget Bee
    • Go-Go-Gadget Moth Antennae
    • Go-Go-Gadget Mouse Brain
    I'd be embarassed if those were mine.
  • by L Fitzgerald Sjoberg ( 171091 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @11:20AM (#285238) Homepage

    Oh, sure, you think it's interesting now. Wait until the wheeled light-seeking eels rule the planet with cruel inhuman efficiency.

  • by Erasmus Darwin ( 183180 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @12:10PM (#285242)
    So, we have to ask ourselves, at what point does medical assistance create a cyborg?

    I think like many other concepts in sci-fi that're slowly being implemented in the real world ('artificial intelligence' and 'virtual reality' spring to mind), we should let the parent term remain slightly vague and only worry about defining subterms for each piece of technology.

    For example, MegaHAL [] is a decent enough conversation simulator but lacks no understanding of the words that it produces. Does such a program fulfill some of the "mimics human conversation" criteria of AI? Yes. But on a self-awareness scale, it's more or less tied with my toaster.

    So in the realm of cybornetics, I think we should define a category (or rather, I'm sure someone else has already defined such a category) for cybornetic devices that're controlled by direct thought or conscious muscle-controlling nerve impulses. That, to me, is where the really nifty stuff is going to soon pop up. And it creates a subtype that excludes something like a pacemaker -- which is certainly a useful form of cybornetic technology, but is also at least an order of magnitude simpler than what your typical Slashdot geek thinks of as "cyborg".

  • by mickwd ( 196449 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @11:37AM (#285244)
    "Soon we'll also be able to relieve ourselves on a microchip to test for cancer as well".

    Oh please, let me be the first to p*ss on a circuitboard wired up to the mains.

  • Perhaps this is how the Borg started out?

  • The Day the Earth Stood Still. I've seen Army of Darkness, but I missed the reference. (Damn! That's a good one, too!)

  • For the people who can't understand this weird dribble, here's a close translation:

    MGR-0018: 4b6e6f636b2c206b6e6f636b21 --> First Post!
    LJW-7790: 57686f2069732074686572653f --> Rant against stupid first posts.
    MGR-0018: 48756d616e --> link cleverly disguised as a DeCSS link.
    LJW-7790: 48756d616e2c2077686f3f --> Microsoft bashing...
    MGR-0018: 48756d616e206e6f7420616e796d6f72652120486120486120 486121 --> Long reply to a JonKatz editorial about the way his posts helped to define the Brave New World we're all gonna live in.

    There ya go :)

    Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earth-bound misfit, I
  • "How is your project going, unit LJW-7790?"

    "I have delegated it to a pod of Humans, unit MGR-0018"

    Some day, in the no-so-distant future, all posts on slashdot will look like this:

    MGR-0018: 4b6e6f636b2c206b6e6f636b21
    LJW-7790: 57686f2069732074686572653f
    MGR-0018: 48756d616e
    LJW-7790: 48756d616e2c2077686f3f
    MGR-0018: 48756d616e206e6f7420616e796d6f72652120486120486120 486121


  • by Bob Abooey ( 224634 ) <> on Wednesday April 18, 2001 @09:40AM (#285260) Homepage Journal
    This depends on how you define cyborg. Is the definition "A living brain with a robot body," or is it, "A mixture of living and technological parts that make a functioning whole?" If you ask me, the latter definition makes more sense, and therefore I submit that cyborgs have been around for a long time, at least since the first feasible artificial hearts were successfully implanted; and I'm sure someone could come up with examples that predate that

  • by paranormalized ( 278300 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2001 @11:59AM (#285271)
    Is that they're working with really complicated tissues. Prosthetics have been around forever, but they're just simple Mechanical Engineering, and have been around since peg legs. And while there has been a mechanical heart, it was originally the size of a washing machine and a Medical nightmare, in terms of patient care. But nowadays we're stringing up Lamprey brains to electronics, and even creating an artificial heart [] that can actually be helpful, at least for a couple weeks. Complicated stuff, involving computational fluid dynamics and such, to prevent blood clots from forming and wreaking havoc on the body, by causing brain strokes and whatnot. And work continues on other replacements for the human body, both mechanical and biological.

    So I found this article interesting, and would agree that this is a pretty big step forward in Cybernetics. I mean, they're almost to the point of keeping brain slices alive for weeks at a time now, and using them in sensor technology! Though when it comes to replacing human organs, my money is on biotech. Maybe we'll have replacement livers, kidneys and hearts by the time I'm decrepit and in need of them, who knows? But I'm signing a donor card for now, so I can still be useful in the event of an accident. We need a bit more work until we have replacements as good as those that come from donors, yet. So be a responsible citizen and sign your donor card, and tell your family about it.

    IANASRP- I am not a self-referential phrase

  • Sharks with frickin' "Laser" beams strapped to their frickin' heads.

    Or, maybe just some ill-tempered sea bass.
  • This is great! Reverse engineered Borg built with animal brains! hehe.

    Sure, PETA will undoubtedly swing into full action as the previous guy who has FP on this discussion mentioned, but it looks as if scientists have already been doing this for a while now. I doubt that PETA could do much more than be annoying on this issue.

    What will be interesting and exciting is having dirty rats going out in hords in front of our soldiers sweeping minefields and checking for booby traps. I would think it would be a lot cheaper to breed a bunch of vermin to be used as cannon fodder than build big minesweeping equipment.

    Reminds me of BattleCats from SNL. ;)

  • OK, drug-sniffing robots are cool and all, but when can I have a medical droid give me a new right hand when my dad cuts it off? (Lost a perfectly good lightsabre, too, dammit.)
  • You can engineer the organisms to eat almost anything.


    I want them to eat spam.

    E-mail spam.

    Get on it.


    P.S. There was a book I read about 25 years ago about an old man who filled his grandson's squirtgun with moldy grape juice and used it to dissolve 9-track database tapes at some MegaCorp's computer center, in order to get revenge on them. I think it was a Donald Westlake book. Web searches are turning up nil.
  • That's it. You don't forget a name like Cartwright-Chickering, and it popped up in one of the alternate titles.

    "Where's the power to mod when you need it?"
  • Websters defines cyborg as "A bionic human", and defines bionic as "having normal biological capability or performance enhanced by or as if by electronic or electromechanical devices".

    When I think of a cyborg, I think of something that is >50% mechanical, like the T-1000, or this lampreybot, or the borg. Maybe it is because when I think of a cyborg, I think of something that has lost part of the essential 'organicness' or, to be anthropomorphic, something that has lost part of its humanity.

  • His name was Steve Austin, I think he was killed fighting big foot or testing a rocket sled. I forget it was way back in the 70's. Oh yea, he only cost $6 million, what a deal.
  • Even better, I'd like to have a cyborg ME. That way, when my wife wants to go shoe shopping or cuddle after sex or talk about feelings, I can just have the roboUltraBot keep her sorry ass copmany while I go out for beer.

  • As frightening as this prospect is, it may allow us some glimpse of what it really DOES take to give an organism true sentience, and weather [sic] or not a 'soul' is inherint [sic] in that.

    I'll forgive your spelling, because you've so shrewdly zeroed in on the most important point here: "Science" hasn't yet accounted for intelligence. They haven't explained what it is, nor how it works, nor where it came from -- and they've most certainly given up on even asking "why?"

    Don't get me wrong: Science is fine for engineering and suchlike. Science has provided us with many valuable conveniences and useful machines. I'll never deny the worth of what they've done. Nevertheless, I won't be such a fool as to put some clever tinkerers in charge of my destiny. They have their place, but it's got nothing to do with any of the big questions facing us as a nation, nor as individuals. Only religion can take on the real issues, the ones that require faith, an open mind, and honest recognition of the fact of God's unmistakable Hand in His own Creation. Clever mechanical tricks won't cut it.

    Let the engineers do engineering, let the thinkers think, and let the rulers rule. This is how it must be.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"