The courage of Harry Parker can never be in doubt. Badly wounded in Afghanistan while on military service, he mastered the use of prosthetic limbs and can walk again, even lead an active life with his family. Yet he is a thinker too. For his book about his experiences, Hybrid Humans raises profound questions about what the use of really advanced prosthetics may one day imply.
Fittingly, the review article by David Robson for The Guardian  is more like a hybrid collaboration by both men. For us the key sentence is
he compares the experience to that of Gregor Samsa, the subject of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis – “the strangeness of not being who you used to be, turned into something that sets you apart from those around you”.
Like all profound changes, the idea of human-machine hybrids started very small and at the margins. There were attempts at minor prosthetics as far back as Egyptian times. The only change has been incremental. Twentieth century folk knew artificial hearts and kidneys. Now we talk about artificial eyes and exoskeletons. And by the fifties, who knows-will there be brain implants that give you an instant new language?
The idea of a gradual fusion of humans and their technologies was mooted by Arthur C Clarke in his novel 2001: A space odyssey. The same ideas are eagerly discussed by the Transhuman movement, to which we link below. New ideas are often scary, and understandably so. The potential power of AI and quantum computing seems irresistible. Might the wise course be to merge ourselves with the new, transforming into beings possessed of immeasurable powers and opportunities?
#artificial limbs #artificial intelligence #transhumans #prosthetics #implants