When we hear the word “cyborg,” we often conjure up images of the Terminator robot going on a path of destruction to rid the world of humanity. The human fascination with AI and the possible robotic apocalypse has raised many public fears around cyborgs. Often there is some underlying biases due to issues we haven’t fully solved in modern society like at what point does a person stop being a person and start being a robot? When they are physically more man than machine or is someone no longer truly human as soon as they have something as simple as a pacemaker inside of them? These questions are not easy to answer and as a society we have not prioritized the questions at all. Cyborgs seemed like a distant sci-fi nightmare and not reality, but the truth is that cyborgs are all too real.
Cyborgs are not new. The definition of a cyborg is simple a being with both organic and bio-mechanical parts, which already includes a decent percentage of the population. Anyone with a pace maker or a prosthetic limb could be considered a cyborg by this definition; however, researchers in Nature Communications have shown with rhesus monkeys that it may be possible to control a robotic arm using electrodes implanted in the brain. The monkeys in these trials were able to control the arms using only their thought power after having the electrodes implanted. You can read more about the specific methods used on the University of Chicago’s Science Life site. This is an incredible and exciting finding for any amputee. Many amputees have dreamed of the day where they could control a prosthetic using only their mind and now it is looking like a real possibility. This will change the lives of any amputee lucky enough to receive a prosthetic but this may also lead to some public backlash against these individuals. Unfortunately, the cyborg bias does exist and we will need to re-educate the public as we develop these exciting new technologies.