Out on a Limb

I work in the post-production industry as an editor. As a consequence, not only am I constantly in front of a computer screen, but the repetitive use of the mouse has led to all sorts of little hand and wrist problems.

Tendinitis, carpal tunnel, arthritis are all realities in my trade, and I’m afraid probably 80%-90% of the people in other industries as well. The other day, while trying to grind through a pick-up basketball game with some co-workers, I was joking about getting one of those “Luke Sywalker” jobs for my bum wrist. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to add some kind of bionic support to your body to help you heal from such ailments?

The philosophy behind it is complicated, leading some into “blade runner”-esque questions of where does the machine end and the human begin. The science, on the other hand, is rather fascinating as a recent article from TFOT on the future of “Mind-Controlled Bionic Limbs” suggests

In the George Lucas classic Star Wars, hero Luke Skywalker’s arm is severed and amputated during a lightsaber fight and consequently fitted with a bionic arm that he can use as if it were his own limb. At the time the script was written, such a remedy was pure science fiction; however, the ability to manufacture bionic arms that have the functionality and even feel of a natural limb is becoming very real, with goals of launching a prototype as soon as 2009. Already, primates have been trained to feed themselves using a robotic arm merely by thinking about it, while brain sensors have been picking up their brain-signal patterns since 2003. The time has come for implementing this technology on paralyzed human patients and amputees.



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