128 posts tagged cyborg
PLEASED project working on “plant-borgs” to act as environmental biosensors
Many claim that talking to plants helps them grow faster. But what if the plants could talk back? That’s what the EU-funded PLants Employed As SEnsing Devices (PLEASED) project is hoping to achieve by creating plant cyborgs, or “plant-borgs.” While this technology won’t allow green thumbs to carry on a conversation with their plants, it will provide feedback on their environment by enabling the plants to act as biosensors. Like most living organisms, plants produce electrical signals in response to external stimuli. By classifying which electrical signals are produced in response to which stimulus, the PLEASED team says will be possible to use plants as biosensors to measure a variety of chemical and physical parameters, such as pollution, temperature, humidity, sunlight, acid rain, and the presence of chemicals in organic agriculture. In an interview with youris.com, project coordinator Andrea Vitaletti admits that there are already artificial devices capable of measuring such parameters, but plants are everywhere, cheap, robust and don’t require calibration. They are also able to measure multiple parameters simultaneously. This is both a plus and a minus because it will make it more difficult to differentiate between different electrical signals that occur simultaneously. (via PLEASED project working on “plant-borgs” to act as environmental biosensors)
CSIRO, University of Tasmania scientists fit tiny sensors onto honey bees to study behaviour
Scientists in Tasmania are fitting thousands of honey bees with tiny sensors as part of a project aimed at understanding the insect’s behaviour and population decline. CSIRO is working with the University of Tasmania, beekeepers and fruit growers to trial the monitoring technology, in an attempt to improve honey bee pollination and productivity. They are fitting tiny sensors to the insects, a process which sometimes involves shaving them first. “This has been done before,” CSIRO science leader Paulo de Souza said. “The difference here is about the size of the sensor. And the difference is the number; we’re talking about 5,000 bees.” The sensors measure 2.5 millimetres by 2.5mm and act like a vehicle’s “e-TAG”, recording when the bees pass particular checkpoints. Researchers can use the signals from the sensors to find out how the bees move through the landscape and understand changes in their behaviour. They are also looking at the impacts of pesticides on the honey bees and the drivers of a condition decimating bee populations globally. “If it impacts the bees, it impacts the whole industry that is producing food,” Dr de Souza said. “This should help us understand optimal productivity conditions, as well as further our knowledge of the cause of colony collapse disorder.” (via CSIRO, University of Tasmania scientists fit tiny sensors onto honey bees to study behaviour - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation))
Do insects feel pain? Are they conscious? A science kit for at-home cyborg cockroaches provokes the hard questions
The Argus, named after the all-seeing Greek god with 100 eyes, is a wearable computer that helps blind people see borders and boundaries at very low resolution. We first reported on the device some eight years ago, when it was still in testing. Now, at long last, the Food and Drug Administration has approved its use in the U.S. for people with Lloyd’s condition, and the device will begin selling shortly at select medical centers, including the University of California, San Francisco.
The Argus is not a true “eyes for the blind” device — patients can’t see objects in the same way people with normal eyesight can. Instead, they see black-and-white edges and contrast points, and the brain can be trained to use this artificial data as a visual guide. It provides enough visual information for the patient to gain some independence, allowing them to cross a street safely, or navigate an unfamiliar room.
“You have to learn to see again, but people who have this implant were people that used to see,” said Lloyd, one of the first patients to get the Argus. “As you go through life, you still have pictures in your brain of everything you’ve seen before. So, you’re creating yourself an image that matches what’s in your memory. It’s a concept that a lot of people don’t get when they think about this device.”
Power Jacket MK3 leaps from comic book pages into reality
In recent years Japan has erected life-sized statues of giant robots like Tetsujin-28 go (Gigantor) and a Gundam mobile suit, but statues can’t defend the island nation from kaiju attack. Perhaps that is why Sagawa Electronics is bridging the gap between fantasy and reality with a working robotic exoskeleton it calls the Power Jacket MK3 that mimics your every move. And it says it will produce up to five of them for about US$123,000 apiece. (via Power Jacket MK3 leaps from comic book pages into reality)
Yes, nanoscience can enhance humans – but ethical guidelines must be agreed
People ‘enhanced’ into spider-climbing individuals with hugely projected breasts and Einstein-brains… Where will it stop?
Engineers are trained to try to figure out how to achieve things that humans cannot and in nanoscience and nanotechnology that challenge is no different.
Many of the most exciting advances in the field try to improve human incapacities with things such as memory, hearing, stamina or intellect. In my field of nanomedicine, the notion of human enhancement is, in a lot of cases, a way to deal with disease: enhancing vision, cognitive functions or improving a person’s ability to move independently.
I have always found the relationship between technology and its use to “aid” or “enhance” human capability intriguing because there is a fine line beyond which all kinds of ethical alarms go off. Where does human enhancement against true pathological conditions or disabilities end?
Thoughts like these were on my mind last autumn on a plane to Taiwan, when I watched the latest movie version of one my favourite comic-book heros, Spider-man. The main character, a very normal, scientifically talented and altruistic teenager (who truly wants to save the world) is bitten by an experimental transgenic spider, which results in his transformation into a man-spider hybrid. This concept is a classic method used in science fiction to explain the creation of characters with super-human powers. Interestingly, the transformation almost always occurs after exposure to different agents perceived as “dangerous” – Spider-man with an unintended bite by a transgenic spider, the Hulk by intentional exposure to external beam radiation. Interactions with human-machine interfaces have also been exploited in science fiction numerous times with the most recent example that of Iron Man (or Robocop and Total Recall for those of a more distant era). (via Yes, nanoscience can enhance humans – but ethical guidelines must be agreed | Science | guardian.co.uk)
This week on Mindful Cyborgs Chris Dancy and I discussed the relationship between mindfulness and quantified self with biosensor engineer Nancy Dougherty. Nancy talks about how she came to the practice of mindfulness through some of her “happy pills experiment,” her…