The Humanitarian Arms Race

David Klaus spotted a fascinating video on the IEEE site, “A Manhattan Project for the Prosthetic Arms Race,” and sent this note with the link:

Dean Kamen’s company demonstrates what he calls ‘the Luke Arm,’ an artificial arm modeled after the prosthetic given to Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back. It’s a shame Martin Caidin isn’t still alive to see this — shades of Steve Austin, too.

A whole range of techniques are being worked on, from the non-invasive, like electrodes placed on the surface of the skin, to gaggingly invasive ideas, like something resembling a miniature fakir’s bed of nails, meant to be connected to the brain.

While checking out David’s link I also found IEEE’s series of videos about the Singularity, which I may be possibly the last person in the blogosphere to notice (seeing as they were posted in June.) Leading off is Vernor Vinge speaking “on the run-up to the singularity and what technologists can do to engineer the best outcome for humans.” In the series’ other videos:

Christof Koch explains how we can use visual illusions and scenes to explore the difference between our conscious and unconscious perception, Rodney Brooks on why the evolution of superhuman intelligence will be a slow process, and Neuroscientist Paul Sajda, of Columbia University, uses the human vision system for computerized image sorting.

[Thanks to David Klaus for the story.]

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