There is enticing imagery thought about amongst every human. The idea of immortality is considered only to be achieved through the reflective waters in the fountain of youth. The reckoning fear everyone must deal with is the call of death, as it beckons us all. We are entering a scientific era where the possibility of diminishing this fear is fast approaching. The human life lasts within a spectrum of moments. To be held onto indefinitely or lengthen this spectrum is dreamt about in conglomerate unification. The increase of our life span and the opportunistic advantages we have created are outcomes of ingenious invention and thought. Longer than ever before can a human now walk upright, healthy, and active. Advancements in the technologic field have revolutionized human perspective on the length of time thought livable on this planet. Perhaps doomed to the pressures to innovate we have opened the possibility to self-evolve. As the lizard has adapted to regrow a tail we have ascertained the synthetic investment to increased longevity.
Recent developments in technologies used in the various medical industries have made relevant the possibility of a vastly longer life. Although there is no guarantee you will be able to attain the components to increased life the relevant fact that there are numerous ways to promote a longer lifespan is a set precursor to the idea of immortality. Innovations ranging from prosthetic limbs, medical procedures, and even to the unprecedented thought of growing functioning organs in laboratories have been made possible by the intelligent innovators of our time. With these phenomena’s coming to light one must stop and think about the true and many capabilities these advances may provoke. We have reached a stage in our existence where we can create the very matter which defines us and we can keep alive that which should not be alive. Whether or not we have flipped the switch on evolution as a whole, there is a fundamental difference in that of a tree naturally developing and the synthetic bio-human direction of development we have taken. To say it is good or bad as a whole is illogical because of the complexity behind the situation and the boundaries of our intellectual capability. All we know is that it is happening, and it is incredible.
First I will explore the world of medication. A simple bacterial infection or the complex procedure of an amputation was an assassin to the lives of a great many. No longer do we fear most diseases and wounds because we have advanced our medical knowledge to an unprecedented understanding. The common cold, the flu, and bacterial infections were, and in some cases still are, a killer of many people. However, many diseases, such as tuberculosis, were killed off by vaccinations. At points in history a broken leg could result in the Gang Green infection which would kill you. Now after repositioning the bone and a few months in a cast your leg is nearly perfectly healed. Being shot or stabbed is also easily repairable as long as proper attention is obtained within quality time. Cancerous tumors can be removed and heart attacks survived. The amount of innovations in science there are to secure human health is astounding. In 2010 Susan Lim discussed in a conference of a recent development her lab research had attained. Her and her colleagues discovered that adult or fat cells could be reprogrammed into youthful cells which could evolve to form more complex and specialized cells. The breakthrough is especially remarkable because this technique can replace stem cell research and the immense controversy behind it. The very food we intake has been genetically altered and made for years. 93% of soybeans and 86% of corn is modified in the US. Cloned animal meat has also been introduced and approved by the FDA. Many people have fears about the human intervention and gene splicing going on with our food but our society is so immersed into it there may be no way back. There is also an enormous demand for vitamins and minerals in the pharmaceutical market. Unbeknownst are the actual effects of taking varying synthetic drugs. Whether or not there is a true observable positive effect being caused by the drug is hard to test thoroughly but people still purchase and consume these gems of longevity and vitality. And hey, if your liver fails from the over processing of unnatural materials manipulated into your body for the betterment of your health, you can always get a replacement. Soon you will no longer will you have to wait for a donor when there is a facility harvesting every possible organ you may need. It’s not impossible, in fact, it is a reality.
There is an amazing scientific phenomenon today that involves the manipulation of cells to create actual functioning organs. The growth of these organs begins in a Framework or scaffold material that is in the shape of the desired organ. This material must be a “bio-rubber” because it is not toxic to the cells. Like a droplet of water coming out of an eye dropper the cells drip out over the mold engulfing it in a faint red watery based substance. Living tissue then grows on this. Once these organs are grown they can be seeded with cells and incubated for weeks. Thereafter, cells begin to sit on proteins that create the vary framework for blood vessels to develop. A working breathing pair of lungs and a beating heart has been synthetically grown to function. These Frankenstein made organs are also grown using specifications including DNA to ensure that the body ‘accepts’ the new incoming transfusion. The procedures have been receiving phenomenal outcomes. Is the power of sustaining organs parallel with other such features of the body? How long can a body last as the replacement of organs is an indefinitely reoccurring event? Science in the medical industry continues to prove that it can expand our idea of what is thought livable. It is absolutely phenomenally interesting to think that it could one day be possible for immortality. However it is an estranged thought that brings about much question. One idea you must ponder is the question of whether defying death, a vary part of the nature that created us, is a degradation of evolution? We would no longer be following a natural evolution but instead paving the way with our own synthesized superficial one. Either way, the evolutionary path humans are paving with our science and technology is astounding.
The Vision of Ironman or Robocop may come to mind when thinking about the concept of an exoskeleton suit that enhances human function. A suit that can be worn to make you stronger and faster. Astonishingly, this technology has landed in the hands of mankind. Lockheed Martin, a global security company, has developed an exoskeleton suit that they call the HULC. The website states:
The HULC is a completely un-tethered, hydraulic-powered anthropomorphic exoskeleton that provides users with the ability to carry loads of up to 200 lbs for extended periods of time and over all terrains.
This modern piece of equipment could be highly favorable in numerous situations including mountain hiking, hospital use, armed forces use, or any other job that could use help lifting heavy objects with movement functioning ease. The construction industry could be revolutionized as we know it. The efficiency of these human workers could be increased in the semantics of welfare.
The prosthetic industry has been around, well, basically since humans have been going to war. If a limb was severed it would be replaced with a hook or a wooden instrument. The image of a pirate often includes a peg leg and a hook for a hand. During recent wars, mainly in the Middle East, a devastating amount of soldiers have been exposed to warfare resulting in the loss of their limbs. Thankfully, with recent advances in prosthetics, many of these soldiers can do certain tasks previously not thought imagined. When Dean Kamen, the inventor of Segway, and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) decided to consolidate on a project for these soldiers that had lost their arms they stumbled upon greatness not thought to have been capable for 10 years. In only one year they had designed a fully functioning brain-controlled robotic arm with 14 degrees of freedom, sensors, and microprocessors inside. These arms where made small enough to fit a 50th percentile female and are precise enough to pick up pens and grapes without squishing them. It is truly remarkable. In February of 2011 the brain-controlled prosthetic arm was approved by the FDA under their “Innovative Path” program. The FDA explained in a press release that the arm was:
|Without the skin cover|
The image of implanting a microchip in the brain seems like a scene straight out of a science fiction movie. Somehow it has become a reality and some people believe it could become a norm of society. Gary Marcus, a New York University professor wrote that "However difficult the practicalities, there’s no reason in principle why a future generation of neural prostheticists couldn’t pick up where nature left off, incorporating Google-like master maps into neural implants." These microchips have the possibility of tremendously improving or aiding human memory. Human invention has begun inventing on itself. Imagine if a small bracelet had a sensor to view all outside surroundings and a sensor in it that that was connected to the microchip in the brain. Practically all information as we know it would be instantaneously connected to you.
The evolution of Technology is an infatuating entity that has become so immersed into our culture we barely realize it. Although many of these advances are astounding to health and security there is still a needed realization that we are a part of nature. When we pollute nature with our synthetic materials there are consequences. With the ability to easily replace a complex organ, such as a heart or a lung, with a synthetically grown one, and the medical procedures capable of genetically altering cells to benefit the body, as well as fastening a microchip in the brain to control an advanced prosthetic arm, comes the undermining of evolutionary thought as humankind knew it. One must question whether synthetically preserving and manipulating our own inter-workings is a part of nature. Is it natural? If humans are natural do our creations consist of naturalness? The evolutionary path of humans could be being synthetically created like the vary microchips we create to implant on ourselves to make ourselves smarter, faster, and stronger. The instinctive gene to create, organize, and innovate is the vary matter of what makes us humans. Whether our evolution is natural or synthetic we are still unquestionably evolving with the vary technology we created. Maybe the omnipotence of humanity will soon be here. The evolutionary strive for perfection has stuck to the path: innovation.
Dean Kamen previews prosthetic arm
Sixth Sense demo
MedGadget (2011): n. pag. Web. 8 May 2011.
Dean Kamen previews prosthetic arm
Sixth Sense demo
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Kamen, Dean. "Dean Kamen previews a new prosthetic arm." TED. 2007. Speech.
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MedGadget (2011): n. pag. Web. 8 May 2011.