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Man Replaces Biological Hand With Bionic One May 19, 2011

Posted by Metabiological in Transhumanism.
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An Austrian man who’s hand was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident has become the second person to take part in a radical new surgery, having his hand replaced by a robotic one.

Milo took the decision after using a hybrid hand fitted parallel to his dysfunctional hand with which he could experience controlling a prosthesis.

Such bionic hands, manufactured by the German prosthetics company Otto Bock, can pinch and grasp in response to signals from the brain that are picked up by two sensors placed over the skin above nerves in the forearm.

In effect, the patient controls the hand using the same brain signals that would have once powered similar movements in the real hand.

Okay a couple of things.  First of all I am shocked that this is the second surgery of this type.  How the hell did I miss the first?  Secondly as far as personal freedoms go this is unequivocally a good thing.  The first commandment of transhumanism (as far as I’m concerned) is that a person has authority over their own body a a right to do with it as they see fit.

Finally, good points aside this opens up a whole new can of worms.  Though our society has come to accept numerous forms of elective surgery (how many boob jobs were performed in the US last year?) as acceptable if not quite accepted the idea of cutting off a part of your body and replacing it with a machine is going to strike a lot of people as crossing a line.  This particular case is unlikely to cause much of a furor since the body part in question no longer worked but just wait until someone tries to replace a fully functioning limb.

Its quite telling that when the surgeon performing this operation held a symposium on the subject he invited a theologian to attend.  The concept of the sanctity of the human body is still a major part of the theology of many of the world’s major religions, made in god’s image and all that, and still exerts a major influence on the opinions of the average person, even if they’ve become a little selective in when they apply it (e.g. the aforementioned boob jobs.)

Still I don’t want to dwell too much on the broader impacts of this since at the end of the day this story is about one thing: a man who has been living for years with a hand that doesn’t work will soon have one that does.  That’s a good story no matter how you tell it.

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