Neil Harbisson, cyborg activist and president of the Cyborg Foundation.
Generally, the term “cyborg” is used to refer to a human with bionic, or robotic, implants.
In current prosthetic applications, the C-Leg system developed by Otto Bock HealthCare is used to replace a human leg that has been amputated because of injury or illness. The use of sensors in the artificial C-Leg aids in walking significantly by attempting to replicate the user’s natural gait, as it would be prior to amputation. Prostheses like the C-Leg and the more advanced iLimb are considered by some to be the first real steps towards the next generation of real-world cyborg applications. Additionally cochlear implants and magnetic implants which provide people with a sense that they would not otherwise have had can additionally be thought of as creating cyborgs.
In vision science, direct brain implants have been used to treat non-congenital (acquired) blindness. One of the first scientists to come up with a working brain interface to restore sight was private researcher William Dobelle. Dobelle’s first prototype was implanted into “Jerry”, a man blinded in adulthood, in 1978. A single-array BCI containing 68 electrodes was implanted onto Jerry’s visual cortex and succeeded in producing phosphenes, the sensation of seeing light. The system included cameras mounted on glasses to send signals to the implant. Initially, the implant allowed Jerry to see shades of grey in a limited field of vision at a low frame-rate. This also required him to be hooked up to a two-ton mainframe, but shrinking electronics and faster computers made his artificial eye more portable and now enable him to perform simple tasks unassisted.
In 1997, Philip Kennedy, a scientist and physician, designed the world’s first human cyborg, named Johnny Ray. Ray was a Vietnam veteran in Georgia who suffered a stroke. Unfortunately, Ray’s body, as doctors called it, was “locked in”. Ray wanted his old life back so he agreed to Kennedy’s experiment. Kennedy embedded a Neurotrophic Electrode near the part of Ray’s brain so that Ray would be able to have some movement back in his body. The surgery went successfully, but in 2002, Johnny Ray died.
In 2002, Canadian Jens Naumann, also blinded in adulthood, became the first in a series of 16 paying patients to receive Dobelle’s second generation implant, marking one of the earliest commercial uses of BCIs. The second generation device used a more sophisticated implant enabling better mapping of phosphenes into coherent vision. Phosphenes are spread out across the visual field in what researchers call the starry-night effect. Immediately after his implant, Jens was able to use his imperfectly restored vision to drive slowly around the parking area of the research institute.
In 2002, under the heading Project Cyborg, a British scientist, Kevin Warwick, had an array of 100 electrodes fired into his nervous system in order to link his nervous system into the Internet. With this in place he successfully carried out a series of experiments including extending his nervous system over the Internet to control a robotic hand, a loudspeaker and amplifier. This is a form of extended sensory input and the first direct electronic communication between the nervous systems of two humans.
In 2004, under the heading Bridging the Island of the Colourblind Project, a British and completely color-blind artist, Neil Harbisson, started wearing an eyeborg on his head in order to perceive colors through hearing. His prosthetic device was included within his 2004 passport photograph which has been claimed to confirm his cyborg status. In 2012 at TEDGlobal, Harbisson explained that he did not feel like a cyborg when he started to use the eyeborg, he started to feel like a cyborg when he noticed that the software and his brain had united and given him an extra sense.
via Cyborg – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Source: Cyborg Human