Richard and the Robohand team are doing extraordinary work to promote the use of 3D printers to produce cheaper and more accessible prosthetics. Their hand prosthetics, most ideally suited for those who have amniotic band syndrome, is produced in 20-30 minutes from a file they produced themselves. The prosthetic itself is extremely simple, mechanical (thus not depended on myoelectrical sensors), and supplies amazing functions to the users (move ahead to see Dylan catch a ball thrown by his father).
It is made by the Makerbot Replicator 2 3D printer, they have only added cabling and standard hardware. It works with the user’s wrist movement, and new models can be printed out once the user has outgrown the previous one.
The most amazing part of this work? It is openly accessible. Get access to a 3D printer, and use the file they have put up to print it out, and put it together.
You can support the Robohand team here.
Her theme takes on a definition of “cyborg” I’ve actually been considering very closely. Do we really need to integrate our tools INTO our bodies to become a cyborg? Isn’t using them constantly ENOUGH for is to become cyborgs?
I love how she talks about losing a computer as a mental loss. It really is. How many of us still remember our best friend’s telephone number by heart? Losing our phones and/or computer entails an actual loss of data!
Then there’s the whole notion she puts out of “second self”. Though I agree with her, what I think about the whole cyborg situation is that there would be an actual singularity. So there wouldn’t BE a second self. There’d be YOU. As a machine, and as a human and both are one and the same.
The phrase that sticks, “Technology doesn’t just get adopted because it works. It gets adopted because people use it.” I’d like to add something on to it : If people adopt it, it’s because people’s morals are able to accept it. How does this have anything to do with cyborgs? I don’t YET think people are ready for this last phase. Talking to one of my friends at college about this whole theme yesterday, she ended the conversation with a very simple, “Yeah, but all that stuff scares me.”
The whole concept of cyborgs continues to be quite touchy. Debates are constantly popping up concerning the actual advantages of constantly being connected to other people via smartphones, etc, and the same will continue to hold true for ever more advanced prosthetics. Oscar Pistorius participating in the Olympics was an example of this, I believe. The sheer amount of people who were either against his participating in the able-bodied Olympics, or who wanted him to choose only one “kind” of Olympics seemed to me enormous (I wish I had statistics to back this up appropriately, but this comes from the talks I’ve had with countless people).
I believe the entire issue derives from the lack of appropriate definition of who can or cannot participate in each of the Olympics, which also has to do with an appropriate definition of prosthetics, enhancement, and cyborgs.
We’re two days away from a new year, and maybe closer to what Ray Kurzweil defined as the Singularity. To welcome the new era, and to not abandon this blog, I’m cross-posting my old entries from my Tumblr to this space, beginning by this trailer of quite an interesting movie.
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The whole idea of a singularity causes mixed emotions. From “weird”, to “freaky” to, “I can’t wait”, this doesn’t leave anyone neutral. Where does the human stop in the singularity, and when do we become a Homo Electronicus, or is the singularity in itself the definition of a Homo Novus, if you will? Isn’t the point of the singularity to forget there ever was a gap between human and technology? And was there ever really a gap?