Imagine a world not far from our own where losing an eye, a leg, a hand, your arm, heart, or even a lung was replaceable. Imagine a world where you weren’t limited to the defects of humanity with being born with a limb that wouldn’t work or a part of your leg that has been overly damaged. Imagine a world where the impossible is now possible. Welcome to Deus Ex, a franchise that has taken the idea of humanities limitations and moved past with factual science that has begun making itself reality. It’s become a world of endless possibilities in a franchise that has made us wonder where human augmentations would go with artificial limbs, eyes, enhanced ears, and the likes. That world is a place where once career-ending limitations became a thing of the past and allowed for humans to regain control of what once seemed over.
A few years ago, I began to watch and study the world of prosthetic limbs and human enhancement. Not because I or anyone I know are disabled in such means, but because the science behind it made me curious. It made me curious to what would happen if we began to break the boundaries between man and machine only to merge into a world where humans would transcend being handicapped or disabled. After playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution, I began to question the possibilities of a future that could truly become reality, and to my amazement? That future isn’t far off.
When I talk biomedical implants or even something similar, you probably are thinking things such as artificial teeth, metal rods in legs, arms or back, but what if I’m talking mechanically engineered?
The Blind Can See Again
As someone who has always had eyesight problems. I found myself often questioning, “What would happen if I went blind?”; the answer? Now it seems not to far away thanks to scientific advances in human implants as well as artificial eyes. Back in July of 2015, I stumbled upon a BBC article written by medical correspondent Fergus Walsh that discussed retinal implants that allow 80 year old Ray Flynn to see again. Ray Flynn suffers from a disorder called Dry AMD, or age related macular degeneration. A disorder that affects at least half a million people a year just in the U.S. alone. Close to the same in the United Kingdom it comes out. The minds behind this device? A team known as Second Sight with their device known as The Argus II Bionic Eye Implant.
This implant has allowed Mr. Flynn to once more begin seeing the things he love’s such as futbol, the television set, and even his computer screen again. Let alone can he see those, Mr. Flynn is also capable of making out his family again.
So how exactly does this augmented implant work? The bionic eye implant is first put into the eye, where a surgical procedure is done. It is then hooked up to the small electrodes around the retinal, which allows the cells to carry the visual information to the brain. From there the brain is able to process the electrical impulses while the device transmits the data being sent to the brain to his eyes from the glasses camera.
Doing this allows for the retina’s remaining cells to function to the best of their ability. This can be imagined as almost like seeing a computer screen’s vertical and horizontal as well as diagonal lines. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean at this time that eyes will fully be replaced by bionics, but gives us the idea that there’s a lot more in the works, and may just give us a fighting chance against pure blindness. Now we just play the waiting games for augments like Adam Jensen’s where we can have glasses or visual receptors near our face without needing glasses or sunglasses at all times.
Prosthetic Limbs That Work Like Real Limbs
For many of us, the thought of losing an arm, a leg, a finger, a part of our foot, all of it is terrifying, and for some? It’s a reality. After sitting down on YouTube the same night I read about Mr. Flynn, my mind began to wonder about realistic prosthesis and what the future could hold. For example, what if I was injured in a crash, how would I write, how would I play games, how would I hold a child if I had one? To YouTube I went and stumbled upon various advances in prosthesis. There I stumbled upon a video that had my interest. Here I watched a man by the name of Hugh Herr – if you don’t know about this man, he’s MIT Media Lab’s Biomechatronics head honcho. Meaning? He’s the badass behind the prosthetic limbs.
Hugh Herr, for a bit of background, is a double amputee. He lost both of his legs in a climbing accident that left him bed bound for years. In his speech it was hard not to find myself interested as he began to discuss the teams advancement in limb replacement. Granted the limbs come off at the end of the day, these limbs allow him to walk as you and I do, get around as you and I do, and even do the things he loves such as running, walking, climbing, and even jogging.
This is thanks to the 48 year old doctor’s want for new and impossible prosthetics to replace the old conventional ones that come with hindering limitations. On his designs, Dr. Herr has designed a beyond complex board system that allows for a onboard system to work with microprocessors, environmental sensors, control loops. springs, struts, and muscle as well as tendon like motors. What does this mean? Almost realistic body parts, but in a prosthetic. His prosthetic title? BiOMs. That means these legs will automatically adjust reflexively as they move with the patients strides, the slopes in their terrain, but they also recycle energy as if they were our own flesh, blood and bone.
Thanks to his advancements in this technology, we can only wonder when his team of scientists will replace legs, arms, and even other body parts with functional augmented parts that don’t have to be removed, and will forever seem as if they were the real limb they replaced. You can watch his Ted Talk fascinating as well as captivating speech here.
As one could imagine, it’s not hard to see a world where things such as BioChips exist (External Link to Fox News), because they already do. These chips allow for people to hold their personal information on a single RFID, allowing them to unlock their houses, send faxes, unlock cars, pay with the swipe of their hand, and be on with their lives. These chips also have personal information such as GPS location and the likes on them so that they can also find missing children, Alzheimers patients, and even identify a missing persons.
While those certainly do have their possible uses, what about more daily uses such as opening your house with the swipe of a hand, loading your grocery list to the chip via NFC from your computer so it could be loaded to your phone or a AR set of glasses? What about paying your bills by simply swiping your hand over an app or going to an ATM and simply moving your hand with the chip over the device that will activate it? While it all seems scary, this future is already happening in many places and has become useful for those using those devices. Several have already shown that their lives have become easier, more stress free since having been chipped. While privacy concerns are still there, it seems the route is quote possible and even useful for those intending on using the technology.
The Deus Ex Future Isn’t Far
While many of us have seen the trailers, the shorts, and even the effects of what can happen through augmentation. It’s hard not to imagine a world where we aren’t quite human anymore, but have surpassed many limitations through the use of technology. While the idea of having a chip inside my hand isn’t ideal, it’s an idea that may not be too far off with the way cellphones, necklaces, wristbands, and the likes are now becoming wearable technology.
While the future for true merger between man and machine is far from being perfected, it’s interesting to see where it will go, when it will become to fruition in an easily accessible and when we will fully be able to utilize some of the technologies seen within the franchise. While I don’t expect to see people smashing through walls with artificial limbs, I do hope to see people returning to normal and functioning lives through technology.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is set to launch on PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox One August 23rd, 2016.
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter, Google+, and or you can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.