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Prosthetics/ Augmentations
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Freitag



Joined: 01 Sep 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21428683.000-bionic-cells-can-do-basic-arithmetic.html

Using liver cells to compute - and without interfering with the natural liver function.


Quote:
Bionic cells can do basic arithmetic

06 June 2012 by Jacob Aron
Magazine issue 2868.

FORGET smartphones, how about a smart arm? Human cells capable of performing simple arithmetic could one day be implanted in your body as a biological computer to diagnose disease, administer drugs or interface with electronic devices.

Martin Fussenegger and colleagues at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich created biological versions of two key digital circuits inside two sets of embryonic kidney cells: a half adder and half subtractor. As the names suggest, they add or subtract two binary numbers. These are the most complex biological circuits ever created, and could form the building blocks of more advanced computational circuits.

Biological circuits capable of simpler computations have been developed before, but most are made of DNA molecules or bacteria, which would be difficult to implant in humans. "In order to be of any therapeutic relevance in the future, you need to establish these things in mammalian cells," says Fussenegger.

Ordinary computers use the presence or absence of electrons to represent 1s and 0s to encode information. Fussenegger's cells use two naturally occurring molecules: erythromycin, an antibiotic, and phloretin, a substance found in apple trees. These act as inputs, switching a reaction within the two types of cell on or off. The reaction leads to the production of a red or green fluorescent protein that signals the result of the calculation (Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature11149). For example, in the half adder cell, the presence of both molecules makes it glow red (see diagram).

These reactions take place without interfering with the cells' ordinary functions, allowing them to speak the binary language of computers while continuing to work as normal cells.

The cell computers are more flexible than their electronic counterparts, because both the input molecules and the output proteins can be replaced with other biological signals, while traditional computers are limited to just one signal, the electron. That means a computer could be designed to take a signal from an infection as its input, for instance, and the output would be to deliver an appropriate treatment.

Visual signals like the red and green fluorescent proteins used in Fussenegger's proof of principle experiment could also be used, causing a skin patch to glow red in the presence of an infectious agent, say. Implanted, cell computers could even communicate directly with electronic computers. "Now we have the same logic, we hope that machines can talk better to cells," says Fussenegger.

"The team have taken this to the next level by showing how one can encode decision-making logic into cells rather than just producing a response," says Martyn Amos at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.

It remains to be seen how well their approach scales to larger computational circuits, as the output from one cell cannot yet be used as the input to another. "The next challenge is to engineer these devices so that they can communicate," says Amos.

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Freitag



Joined: 01 Sep 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This girl is my new twitchy heroine. A talk in three parts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-Dv6dDtdcs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RV_6Axb80g

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5n2aJeAGyM

Did I mention that she's a little twitchy?
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Freitag



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.overclockersclub.com/news/32565


Quote:
For many materials, their ability to stretch and expand under compression and tension is a defining characteristic. Cartilage is like this and now researchers at Harvard University have created a hydrogel with the potential to be an artificial cartilage or spinal disk. It also could see use in soft robotics.

Hydrogels are in an interesting class of material which has a great deal of water in them and molecules with loose bonds between each other. Polymers, by comparison, typically have quite strong bonds between their molecules. This particular hydrogel is actually made from two common polymers which, on their own, are not very stretchy. However, when they are combined at the proper ratio, they form a network of bonds that will only pull apart slightly, while the hydrogel is stretched over a distance as much as 21 times its original length. When the hydrogel is allowed to relax, what bonds were broken will actually reform and heal, enabling the material to be stretched again.

The hydrogel also is biocompatible, which is important if it is ever to be used as artificial cartilage or some other implant. It is not limited to that one use though as artificial muscle could benefit from this stretchiness and it could even be utilized as a covering for wounds. Only time and further research will tell us what it is capable of.


I have ZERO idea why this was in a forum dedicated to PC overclocking, but it's cool.
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Freitag



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://singularityhub.com/2013/02/12/neil-harbisson-is-a-cyborg-who-hears-more-of-the-world-than-we-see/

Quote:
Neil Harbisson Is A Cyborg Who Hears More Of The World Than We See



What would your world be like if you couldn’t see color? For artist Neil Harbisson, a rare condition known as achromatopsia that made him completely color blind rendered that question meaningless. Not being able to see color at all meant that there was no blue in the sky or green in grass, and these descriptions were merely something to be taken on faith or memorized to get the correct answers in school.

But Neil’s life would change drastically when he met computer scientist Adam Montandon and with help from a few others, they developed the eyeborg, an electronic eye that transforms colors into sounds. Colors became meaningful for Neil in an experiential way, but one that was fundamentally different than how others described them.

This augmentation device wasn’t like a set of headphones that he could put on when he wanted to “listen” to the world around him, but became a permanent part of who he was. Though he had to memorize how the sounds corresponded to certain colors, in time the sounds became part of his perception and the way he “sees” the world. He even started to expand the range of what he could “see”, so that wavelengths of light outside of the visible range could be perceived.

In other words, he became cybernetic.

Not being readily accepted into society prompted the birth of a mission, as he explains in the phenomenal short film “Cyborg Foundation” that has won the Grand Jury Prize in GE’s $200,000 Focus Forward Filmmaker competition. We’ve recently profiled two other films from this competition, the Super Supercapacitor and the SlingShot Purifier, but there is something truly magical about this winning short as it foreshadows a cybernetic future that isn’t doom and gloom, but one that is greatly enriched through enhancement. See it for yourself.

Neil recently gave a fascinating talk at TEDGlobal2012 describing how his life is different, including how he can “eat my favorite song: I can compose music with food” and “before I used to dress in a way that it looked good — now I dress in a way that it sounds good.” The foundation he co-launched aims to advocate the development and adoption of cybernetics into society. “Life will be much more exciting when we stop creating applications for mobile phones and start creating them for our body.”

The TED talk is worth checking out as well:

In these two videos, Neil boldly paints a picture of what the future holds where augmentation devices will alter how we experience the world. Whether for corrective or elective motives, people will someday adopt these technologies routinely, perhaps choosing artificial synesthesia as a means of seeing the world in a broader or deeper way. Many of the developments in cybernetics and robotics on the horizon will alter human experience, causing the collective definition of “normal” or the “real world” to diverge.

If you have any doubt about it, look no further than the likely launch of Google Glass this year as an inroad into the imminent rise of wearable computing.

Yet, Neil shows that what is different doesn’t necessarily have to be feared, and the richness that augmentation brings can be life changing. Hopefully, as more people become cybernetic, their stories can be told and serve as inspiration to anyone whose life could be transformed through augmentation.


The original article has an embedded TED talk and more links. It's getting cooler every day!
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THYREN



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you don`t follow Vsauce on Youtube, here are some of the latest development in robotics / cyborgs
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Freitag



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sort of an overview discussion of the state of augmentation available today.


http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/digital-living/8429729/Choose-Your-Own-Sixth-Sense




Quote:
Imagine for a moment that you could choose any superpower you wanted. If you're the demonstrative sort, you might be tempted by something dramatic, such as Hulk-like strength or the ability to fly. Or perhaps you'd prefer something a little more discreet, like a self-healing body or the power to read minds.

But if you're a certain type of pragmatist, you'll dismiss all of the above as a mere parlor game. Why waste time dreaming about things that are impossible (for now, at least) when you can have a more modest superpower today, at a reasonable price?

That's the premise behind a small but growing subculture of DIY biohackers, body hackers, grinders and self-made cyborgs, who are taking advantage of widely available technologies such as tracking chips, LEDs, magnets and motion sensors to imbue themselves with a sixth sense of sorts. They range from professionals such as Kevin Warwick, the publicity-friendly Reading University professor behind Project Cyborg, to spiky-haired cyberpunks such as Lepht Anonym, whose taste in surgical tools runs to vegetable peelers. Call them "practical transhumanists" - people who would rather become cyborgs right now than pontificate about the hypothetical far-off future.

So what kind of sixth sense could you acquire today if you were in the market? Anything from infrared vision to an internal compass to a sort of "spidey sense" that alerts you when something is approaching from behind. And the cost can run from the tens of thousands of dollars to as little as a few bucks, as long as you have a scalpel and a hearty tolerance for risk and pain.

The concept of implanting bionic devices is by no means radical or new in the medical field - just ask anyone with a pacemaker or an insulin pump. But the notion of healthy people sticking gadgets in their bodies for fun, profit or sensory augmentation is a more recent phenomenon. It's an offshoot of the transhumanist movement, which took root in California in the 1980s among a set of philosophers, dreamers and technophiles who believed that emerging technologies could reshape humanity for the better. But while the transhumanists held conferences, wrote books, formed think tanks and sparred with bioethicists, a few who shared their vision began to wonder where the action was.

In 1998, Warwick, a professor of cybernetics, had a doctor surgically implant a simple radio-frequency identification transmitter in his upper left arm, in an experiment that he called Project Cyborg. The chip didn't do a whole lot - it mainly just tracked him around the halls of the university and turned on the lights to his lab when he walked in. But Warwick was thrilled and the media were enchanted, declaring him the world's first cyborg. (Others bestow the title on Steve Mann of the University of Toronto, who has been wearing computers and cameras on his head for decades.) He later followed up with more complex implants, including a 100-electrode chip that transmitted signals from his wrist to a computer.

Warwick's initial RFID implant was a turning point in the history of transhumanism not because it represented a great technological leap, but because it required no technological leap at all. What he did, anyone could do. To some, that made him a charlatan. To others, it makes him a hero.

What it undeniably did was pave the way for people with far fewer resources to experiment with enhancements of their own - often without the aid of medical professionals. One of the most extreme examples is Anonym, a tattooed young woman from Scotland who describes herself as a "scrapheap transhumanist." In a memorable appearance at a conference in Berlin in December 2010, Anonym described her first foray into grinding thusly: "I sat down in my kitchen with a vegetable peeler . . . and I decided to put things in my hands. . . . The first time I ever sat down, it went horribly, horribly wrong. The whole thing went septic, and I put myself in the hospital for two weeks." For most people, that would be ample motivation to swear off grinding for good. But Anonym learned lessons and kept at it, successfully implanting an RFID chip before moving on to other implants like a temperature sensor and a neodymium magnet that would vibrate in response to alternating current. Her exploits, in turn, inspired others.

For Tim Cannon, a mild-mannered 33-year-old software developer from Pittsburgh, it was the magnet idea that touched a nerve. "I've been a science fiction fan since I was a kid," he told me. "I've just always been interested in nerdy kind of stuff." When Cannon first saw Anonym, his first thought was, 'Oh no, the revolution started without me!' " Within a month, he had enlisted a professional tattoo artist to install a polymer-coated magnet in his left ring finger. The process was a lot cleaner than Anonym's DIY approach, though Cannon says it would have been far more pleasant with a little anesthetic.

So what's it like having a sense of magnetism? At first it was a little jarring, Cannon says, to feel his finger buzz like a cellphone on vibrate when it came within a foot of a refrigerator. But over time he has developed an intuitive sense of what's giving off current, and of what sort (vibrations mean alternating current, a tug means direct). And his little superpower, humble as it is, has come in handy around the house on a few occasions, like when the battery light started flickering on his friend's laptop. "I went over and hovered my hand over the power brick, hovered my hand over the laptop, repeated that a couple of times, and when I got back to the laptop I felt it kind of sputtering - pop, pop - and I noticed that coincided with the battery light coming on. I said, 'Hey man, your power bridge is bad.' " He says his friend now calls him "the laptop whisperer."

Cannon and a few like-minded friends formed a collective called Grindhouse Wetwares, with the tagline, "What would you like to be today?" They've built such things as a range-finding sensor that makes their fingers pulse based on how far away the nearest walls are. "You can just sweep it over a room and get an idea for the contours of the room with your eyes closed," Cannon says. "It's kind of like a sonar sense." The group has also experimented with implantable biomedical tracking devices and a gizmo called the "thinking cap," which zaps the brain with electricity to heighten the user's focus. (This risky-sounding procedure, known as transcranial direct current stimulation, has actually been shown to boost cognitive performance in several studies, though it may also have its downsides.)

In Barcelona, a nonprofit called the Cyborg Foundation is pushing a more artistic (and less cringe-inducing) vision of sensory extension. It was founded by Neil Harbisson, an artist and musician who was born with achromatopsia, the inability to see colors. Since 2004, Harbisson has worn a device he calls the eyeborg, a head-mounted camera that translates colors into soundwaves and pipes them into his head via bone conduction. Today Harbisson "hears" colors, including some beyond the visible spectrum. "My favorite color is infrared," he told me, because the sound it produces is less high-pitched. (This prize-winning short film featuring Harbisson is well worth watching: http://bit.ly/Y2WsO0.)

The Cyborg Foundation's co-founder, Moon Ribas, is working on a sensor that can be attached to the back of her head that will vibrate to alert her when someone is approaching from behind. Mariana Viada, the Cyborg Foundation's communications manager and an outdoorswoman, is looking into an internal compass that could tell her at all times which way is true north. "People ask me why I would want to extend my senses, and I simply answer, 'Why not?' " Viada says. "There is so much out there to discover."

As low-tech as these types of devices are, Cannon thinks they're laying the groundwork for more powerful (and pervasive) human enhancements in the future. And he thinks there will be money in it - but he says Grindhouse Wetwares has no interest in becoming a startup beholden to venture capitalists. "We think that in order to preserve ownership of our bodies, we need to make sure this is open-source. If you think Apple has a problem with you jailbreaking your iPhone, wait until they're responsible for your heart."

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