Giving amputees cyborg limbs. That’s the crux of tech billionaire Elon Musk’s latest announcement on uses for his controversial brain chip, Neuralink. His vision is for his design company Tesla to create prosthetic limbs for amputees, combining a Neuralink implant and robotic arms or legs to create a highly capable ‘cyborg body’. Cyborg technology… wow.
Big promises and showmanship are part and parcel of the Musk brand, and there are already bionic limbs on the market. Nevertheless, the prospect of a supertech ‘bionic body’ is too good not to delve into. Here’s what you need to know.
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In the 1970s, actor Lee Majors played The Six Million Dollar Man, a test pilot with bionic implants that gave him super abilities. Fast forward to the present, and Musk wants to create a real-life version of this idea with the help of two of his companies, Tesla and Neuralink.
His vision is to design a “sixty-thousand-dollar man” in real life, combining a Neuralink implant and robotic arms or legs to create a highly capable cyborg body.
Musk believes that such technology could potentially help millions of people worldwide, offering them prosthetic limbs that are as good, if not better, than their biological counterparts. However, this ambitious goal is still a work in progress for both companies.
Tesla only began working on a humanoid robot in 2021 and they’re in the early stages of making actuators for limb movement. Meanwhile, Neuralink gained the okay from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a human clinical study of its brain-machine interface (BMI) chip. Yet, the actual use of this technology is yet to be shown.
Scepticism over Musk’s cyborg technology
So, should we be getting ready to ‘become cyborgs’ any time soon?
Musk’s track record includes making extravagant promises that some have accused him of fraudulently promoting. For example, his ambitious hyperloop tunnel project aimed to transport people between New York City and Washington DC in just 29 minutes, but it has yet to become a reality. His predictions of a future with robot butlers ushering in an “age of abundance” have similarly fallen short.
When confronted about his unrealistic claims, Musk often brushes them off, admitting that he’s not always right. Despite this, his latest idea of creating a cyborg with advanced prosthetic limbs through the collaboration of Tesla and Neuralink is yet to be assessed for its feasibility.
His dream of creating a cyborg with incredibly capable prosthetic limbs is ambitious and promising. However, it still faces many tech and practical challenges before becoming a reality. Nonetheless, his unwavering confidence and ability to attract top talent may help propel the project forward in the future.
The reality now- where are we with cyborg tech?
Cyborg limbs aren’t a new innovation. There are people using them today and several companies working on this technology. Some bionic limbs can be even stronger and more durable than natural limbs. Here are some examples of bionic limbs that exist today:
- The Hero Arm is the most affordable multi-grip bionic arm in the world and is available for adults and children with amputations below the elbow. It’s a great option for people who are seeking a functional and affordable bionic arm that also looks stylish.
- The COVVI Hand is a prosthetic hand that’s designed to be more functional and accessible than other prosthetic hands on the market. It’s made of high-quality materials and has a natural form factor that makes it look and feel more like a real hand.
- The Utah Bionic Leg is a computerised and motorised prosthetic leg that allows amputees to walk more naturally and with less effort. The Utah Bionic Leg is still in development, but it has the potential to revolutionise the way that amputees live their lives.
Can I get a cyborg limb in Australia?
There are a number of companies in cyborg technology that make and sell bionic limbs, and the prices vary depending on their features and functionality. Some bionic limbs are very expensive, but there are also some more affordable options available.
The Bionics Institute in Melbourne is one of the leading research bodies in the world for bionic limbs. They offer a range of bionic limbs, including hands, arms, and legs.
Here are some international institutes that work in the field of cyborg technology:
- Touch Bionics is a Scottish company that makes bionic arms and hands. They’re known for their i-limb Quantum arm, which is one of the most advanced bionic arms on the market.
- Ottobock is a German company that manufactures a wide range of prosthetics and orthotics, including bionic limbs. They’re the world’s largest manufacturer of prosthetics and orthotics.
- DEKA is an American company that develops and makes advanced prosthetics and orthotics. They’re best known for their DEKA Arm.
More on the evolution of assistive technology
Interested in cyborg technology and other advances? Read more here:
Insure your equipment (though no cyborg limbs yet)
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