Technology seems to speed up at a very quick- almost alarming – rate every year. How quickly will it be until technology matches up with the functioning of a human body? With this new experiment, which will be the subject of a documentary on the Smithsonian Channel, some expect that it will not be very long.
“(It’s) an attempt to showcase just how far medical science has gotten,” Richard Walker, the lead Roboticist on this very intriguing project, stated.
A team of engineers have assembled a bionic man that uses artificial organs, limbs, and other body parts. It boasts a functioning heart, artificial kidney, lungs, and pancreas. Some of these parts, though, are still in development as they usually need human connection to function.
Bionic Man With Functioning Organs
It stands at about six and a half feet tall, and can sit, stand and walk with the help of a Rex machine, which is used for people who cannot walk due to spinal injuries. It is said the bionic man has about 60-70% of the function of a human.
The functioning heart is able to pump more than two gallons of the bionic man’s synthetic blood in one minute. There are also artificial blood vessels used to circulate that synthetic blood. A microchip is included in the cyborg-like body that can receive and interpret images, much like a human eye might do.
Modeled After a Real Human Body
The parts are from 17 manufacturers around the world, and this is the first time they’ve been assembled, according to Walker. The bionic body does not have some key parts of a human body, such as a brain, liver, skin, and digestive system, among others. Although it may seem to be an expensive project, the entire thing only cost about one million dollars.
This bionic man was modeled after Dr. Bertolt Meyer, a social psychologist at the University of Zurich, who was born without his lower left arm. They used a 3D model of Meyer’s face to create the face of the robot. He admitted that at first, he thought the man was “revolting” and that “it was quite a shock to see a face that closely resembles what I see in the mirror every morning on this kind of dystopian looking machine”. But, soon he grew to like it, especially after it had been clothed.
Intelligent Androids Unlikely in Near Future
Some people had different views on this project, saying that we are still a very long way from actually replicating the functions of a human body.
“We have motors which can lift things but, if you want to mimic the dexterity of a hand, we are not there yet,” said Professor Steven Hsiao of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. “What we are beginning to achieve is building prostheses which look like human body parts, but we are a long way away from making ones which relay sensory information the way the human body does.”
He also said that even in ten years, we will still not be able to build a robot that will send back sensory information.
Bertolt Meyer also added to this:
“I’d say it’s highly unlikely that, in our lifetimes or in that of our grandchildren, we will see a fully articulate human body with an artificial intelligence.”
He also says that ethical problems around prostheses may arise if scientists begin to make parts that outperform regular human parts.
Although this is a magnificent show of what modern technology is capable of, scientists still have a long way to go, and technology will always be improving and advancing, be it for the better or worse. The bionic man is just another step in these advances.
References & Image Credits:
(1) Huffington Post