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Advanced Prosthetics

Granted, these ideas have been around since I was reading Omni in high school, but what’s different is that nowadays we’ve got the right technology to make them feasible: DARPA Pushes Bionic Arm Boundaries

What’s particularly interesting about this is the possibility – as they improve the granularity of motor and feedback signals – of not merely replicating the missing limb but replacing it with something better. Imagine an amputee finding a new career as a watchmaker or specialty mechanic, thanks to ten variety-sized fingers and thumbs and tool sockets on his prosthetic hand. Or perhaps a surgeon able to perform microsurgery with the precision of a tailor thanks to the tiny, highly-accurate fingers on hers – unless the surgery calls for her hydra-headed orthoscopic tentacle. Or leg amputees with arm-like prostheses plying their newfound advantages in near-future space facilities? Or at the extreme, multiple amputees regaining mobility via multiple such prostheses or whole prosthetic bodies?

Indeed – why would an amputee’s everyday prosthetic need to be a direct functional replacement of their missing limb(s) at all? If you’ve suffered the trauma of losing one or more limbs, why not make lemonade by replacing them with something better?


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