Old minds in new bodies

By Robert Hickson 09/07/2013

Some of you will be familiar with Ray Kurzweil’s vision of the merging of people and machines in the next few decades. A Russian billionaire is also keen on this idea, and is trying to get his own avatar project off the ground.

But it may be too soon to give up on the wet ware just yet. An Italian neurosurgeon wants to do a full head transplant, building upon some animal experiments from the 1970s. Good luck with the ethic’s committee process on that one.

Whether these goals are achievable, or allowable, in our or are children’s lifetimes is debatable. But they do point the direction in which science and medicine have been moving for some time. Not necessarily smoothly (or exponentially).

I’ve written about Homo electronicus previously. And until a few years ago  face transplants were speculative. There is also increasing interest from some scientists to develop human-animal hybrids as a means of producing organs for transplantation.

In a blog posting in May I noted the need for designers to get more involved in foresight. Some already are, including Agatha Haines who is imagining bio-engineered organs of the future. So there may still be plenty of life, and diversification, in our old bodies. In the future hacking won’t just be electronic but biological too.

Scientists and engineers can imagine and work toward creating futures, but what will we the people find acceptable?