Bionics Allow the Blind to See

Before excited scientists, Miikka Terho stares at the letters in front of him.  Attached to his eyes there is a strange pair of cybernetic goggles.  After a few moments, Miikka reads the word placed in front of him and informs the scientists that his name has been misspelled.  This wouldn’t be an extraordinary occurrence if Miikka was not completely blind in both eyes.

The device attached to Miikka’s face is not a camera.  Incredibly, Miikka’s eyes have had a biological part of them replaced and translated directly into what an eye is supposed to do.  Mr. Terho was thought to be blind for life, but can now distinguish several objects as they are placed in front of him in front of  dark background according to a report by the BBC.  So with this latest technological achievement, scientists have once again served to bridge the gap between technological achievement and a more accessible world for those once thought handicapped.  Though Miikka was thought to have forever been rendered blind by a genetic disease, it seems he has taken only the first few steps into a world where he can once again see objects around him.

A future of biomechanical human hybrids seems fairly distant to the men and women of 2010, but with such incredible breakthroughs being made in the field of medical technology how long do we have before the prospect of body modification as a useful venture becomes practical?  The utilization of external objects onto the human form has largely been something of a fashion statement.  But with improvements in technology, we may one day see a world where bionic eyes, limbs, and even brains are more than just a science fiction concept.

Already the FDA has approved telescopic eye implants that replace the lens of human eyes for the visually impaired, but is it possible another system using the already approved method is utilized for the purpose of being able to see distant objects better?

And let’s not forget the story about Rob Spence, the man whose eye was tragically destroyed when a gun unexpectedly went off when he was a child.  The filmmaker had his eye removed and replaced with a bionic camera eye capable of capturing images and even video, calling himself “Eyeborg” in a tongue in cheek manner after losing his eye.

So the world of bionic implants has slowly been moving from expression to the world of practical use.  And while it’s rare and noteworthy now, it may seem commonplace in no time at all.

But what challenges will we face with an increasingly bionic world?  Will these implants allow people advantages others would not have?  Will there eventually be a call for  puritanical look on those who have modified their bodies?  What challenges will these metahumans face?  Or will the term metahuman and the attention to their altered bodies become rude in time?
At some point technology is going to make an artificial eye tht sees better than a traditional eye.  And where will we all stand on the spectrum on that day?