We have finally reached a level of technology where headlines can be made such as this. A patient has elected to have his hand sawed off and replaced with a new bionic limb that will allow him to rediscover some of the uses he once lost. Bionic hands provide patients with a level of movement in their limbs previously thought only possible by either transplants or the original limbs themselves. And what’s more he’s choosing to do it. How soon will it be when bionic hands are superior to organic ones and patients quickly move to have their old limbs replaced by new ones just like this patient?
The 26 year old patient, going by the name “Milo” was injured in a motorcycle accident in 2001 which caused him to lose all feeling in his right hand. After his recovery he mostly healed except for his hand, which was expected to forever be a nuisance that could not move hardly at all.
Of course this is only the latest story after Patrick got his own bionic hand to replace an amputation he received in Austria by Doctor Oscar Aszman who specializes in replacing non-working limbs with new bionic ones. From the looks of it, this new generation of amputees who receive bionic replacements to their limbs are going to start seeing more attention in the future both from the media and prospective patients.
But this leaves us with a question that has been asked since the first few circuits started going into prosthetic surrogate limbs. Will we one day find ourselves in a position where the limbs we once held are inferior to new technological ones? Might we one day at a certain age be given the option to allow a surgeon to replace our body parts with superior technological wonders with twice our normal strength? And if they do, what problems might arise? Given that possibility, what else might we soon be exchanging? Just as scientists are learning that hearing could be improved using bionic enhancements, could we soon start seeing people who are more machine than human? And if that were the case, at what point do we start asking whether we are still human or not? Elective bionic hands today, but perhaps bionic eyes tomorrow. If eyes are windows to the soul, would electronic eyes look into the same soul or instead be looking out from somewhere else? Even the consciousness itself, the seat of all that we believe ourselves to be is seeing more implants now than ever now that microchips can be literally melted into the folds of brain matter themselves.
Perhaps we will find in time that humanity is not a matter of flesh and blood, or even necessarily in the end consciousness. Perhaps there is some still as yet undefined element to our humanity that binds us all together outside of mere genetic makeup. And when we discover what this is, perhaps then we will be truly ready for the coming changes.