Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Night Physics!

Back in High School, a friend of mine used to go on about how once the technology became available, he'd get as many cybernetic/bionic limbs and gadgets as he could, because the idea of living forever in a body made of steel sounded cool.

Now, not to shoot down the transhumanists, but I'm going to take some time tonight to shoot a few holes in your dreams.

  • Software: Size is the obvious first problem - software required to map your neurological impulses to the associated motion/action (and that's just limbs - never mind more complicated systems) would be pretty intensive, and prone to bugs - and who really wants to run their bodies and sensory organs on Windows Vista?
  • Systems control - So, you're going to control the various extra weapon and sensor systems (Nightvision, enhanced imaging, IR, UV, and etc etc) like you would operate you iPhone, I guess? (Totally unrelated, but if Steve Jobs hasn't gotten the trademark for iBorg, you should steal it - right now). Or are you going to try and operate it using an optical system from your eye. Oh, and what do you do when there's a malfunction? How many redundant systems can you cram into a human shape body?

  • Following from above: Power systems - what do you plan on having and how often are you going to have to recharge the systems (again, if it's going to fit into a human-size frame, it's probably going to be pretty small)? And won't it be expensive?
  • What about repairs and maintenance? And would that be covered by your health insurance or some other body? And yes, there would be maintenance - see cars, buildings, bridges, tanks, jet fighters - or any majorly expensive piece of hardware designed to last more than 2 years of heavy exposure to the elements.
  • For those of you who want to go for the mixed package of flesh and metal - how do the various parts interface? How do you prevent infection?-gangrene sucks. Or, given that the metal parts would likely have a very different weight and center of mass than the flesh and blood components they are replacing, you'd need a very good gyroscopic system (probably similar to what the F-22 uses) to maintain your balance and stablity while in motion. And you'd need to reinforce the non-metal bits so they can move the metal bits.

I'm sure they'll figure out solutions to these problems eventually, but here are some of the technical questions I have - and I hope you share them.

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