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Elon Musk: $47,000 Model Y SUV “Will Ride Like a Sports Car”

A Familiar Car

First, it was supposed to feature Model-X-style “falcon wing” doors, and then it didn’t. It was supposed to be built in the Shanghai factory, but that didn’t work out either.

Tesla finally unveiled its fifth production car, the Model Y, at its design studio outside of Los Angeles Thursday evening.

“It has the functionality of an SUV, but it will ride like a sports car,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said during the event. “So this thing will be really tight on corners.”

Bigger than the 3, Smaller Than the X

Yes, acceleration is still zippy: zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds.

But the vehicle is less than revolutionary. It’s arguably the company’s second crossover sports utility vehicle, after the Model X, and it borrows heavily from the company’s successful Model 3. In fact, 75 percent of its parts are the same, according to CEO Elon Musk.

The back of the Y is slightly elevated in the back for a roomier cargo space. A long-range model will feature seven seats — just like the Model X, despite being slightly smaller. Range: still 300 miles with the Long Range battery pack, thanks to its aerodynamic shape.

It will also be “feature complete” according to Musk, referring to the fact that the Model Y will one day be capable of “full self-driving” that he says “will be able to do basically anything just with software upgrades.”

10 Percent Cheaper

As expected, the Model Y is ten percent bigger and costs roughly ten percent more than the Model 3: the first Model Y — the Long Range model — will be released in the fall of 2020 and will sell for $47,000. A dual-motor all-wheel drive version and a performance version will sell for $51,000 and $60,000, respectively.

If you want to save a buck and get the ten-percent-cheaper-than-the-Model-3 version, you’ll have to wait: a Standard Range (230 miles) model will go on sale in 2021 for just $39,000.

Overall, the Model Y seems like a compromise: it’s not a radical shift, but it seems carefully designed to land with a certain type of consumer — and, if Musk is to be believed, without sacrificing Tesla’s carefully-cultivated “cool factor.”

Investors seemed slightly underwhelmed, too — the company’s stock reportedly slid up to five percent after the announcement.

READ MORE:  Tesla unveils Model Y electric SUV with 300 miles range and 7-seats [Electrek]

More on the Model Y: Elon Musk: Tesla Will Unveil Model Y Next Week

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Elon Musk: $47,000 Model Y SUV “Will Ride Like a Sports Car”

Samsung Is Working on Phone With “Invisible” Camera Behind Screen

A Samsung exec has shared new details on the company's efforts to create a full-screen phone, one with the camera embedded beneath the display.

Punch It

Just last month, South Korean tech giant Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S10, a phone with just a single hole punched in the screen to accommodate its front-facing camera.

On Thursday, a Samsung exec shared new details on the company’s intentions to create a “perfect full-screen” phone, with an “invisible” camera behind the screen to eliminate the need for any visible holes or sensors — confirming that one of the biggest players in tech sees edge-to-edge screens as the future of mobile devices.

Hidden Tech

During a press briefing covered by Yonhap News Agency, Samsung’s Mobile Communication R&D Group Display Vice President Yang Byung-duk said the company’s goal is to create a phone with a screen that covers the entire front of the device — but consumers shouldn’t expect it in the immediate future.

“Though it wouldn’t be possible to make (a full-screen smartphone) in the next 1-2 years,” Yang said, “the technology can move forward to the point where the camera hole will be invisible, while not affecting the camera’s function in any way.”

Quest for Perfection

This isn’t Samsung’s first mention of an uninterrupted full-screen phone — as pointed out by The Verge, the company discussed its ambitions to put the front-facing camera under a future device’s screen during a presentation in October.

That presentation included a few additional details on how the camera in a full-screen phone would work.

Essentially, the entire screen would serve as a display whenever the front-facing camera wasn’t in use. When in use, however, the screen would become transparent, allowing the camera to see through so you could snap the perfect selfie — and based on Yang’s comments, that new innovation could be just a few years away.

READ MORE: Samsung Seeks Shift to Full Screen in New Smartphones [Yonhap News Agency]

More on Samsung: Samsung Just Revealed a $1,980 Folding Smartphone

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Samsung Is Working on Phone With “Invisible” Camera Behind Screen

Special Announcement: Futurism Media and Singularity University

Futurism acquired by Singularity University

So, Readers –

As always, we’ve got some news about the future. Except this time, it’s about us.

We’re about to enter the next chapter of Futurism, one that will usher in a new era for this site. It’ll come with new ways we’ll be able to deliver on everything you’ve grown to read, watch, subscribe to, and love about what we do here. And also, more in volume of what we do, with larger ambitions, and ultimately, a higher level of quality with which we’re able to bring those ambitions to fruition.

As of today, Futurism Media is proud to announce that we’re joining operations with Singularity University. In other words: They bought us, they own us, and quite frankly, we’re excited about the deal.

It’s an excitement and an occasion we share in with you, our community of readers — aspiring and working technologists, scientists, engineers, academics, and fans, who carried us to where we are, who helped make this independent media company what it is today. We’ve always been humbled by your support, and we’ve worked to reciprocate it by publishing one of the most crucial independent technology and science digital digests, every day, full stop.

What this changes for you? Nothing. Really. Except: More of what you’ve come to count on Futurism.com to deliver every time you’ve read our stories, opened our emails, swiped up on our ‘Gram, watched our videos, dropped in on our events, clicked through a Byte, and so on. This partnership represents the sum total of the work you’ve engaged with, and the start of a new chapter in which we’ll be able to deliver on more of the above.

That means increased coverage of the emergent, cutting-edge innovation and scientific developments changing the world, and the key characters and narratives shaping them (or being shaped by them). It means an expanded, in-depth feature publishing program, arriving this Spring (it’s rad, and it’s gonna blow your socks off). It means more breaking news reporting and analysis. It means original media products you haven’t seen from us before — new verticals, microsites, other ways for you to get in the mix with our coverage. And yes, by working in concert with Singularity University, we’re going to have a pretty decent competitive advantage: Direct access to the characters and personas shaping our future, the people, ideas, and innovations right at the frontier of exponential growth technologies. Our branded content team, Futurism Creative, will also continue to produce guideline-abiding, cutting-edge, thoughtful and engaging content for our partners, and for the partners of SU, too. And finally, our Futurism Studios division will continue to push the envelope of feature-length narrative storytelling of the science fiction (and science fact) stories of that future.

Will this change our journalism? Not in the slightest. We’ll still be operating as an independent, objective news outlet, without interference from our partners, who will continue to hold us to the same ethics and accountability standards we’ve held ourselves to these last few years. There might be more appearances from the folks at SU in our work (not that SU’s proliferate network of notable alumni or board members haven’t previously made appearances around these parts prior to this), but by no means will SU be shoehorning themselves into what we do here.

Yet: Where the opportunity exists, we’ll absolutely seize on the chance to co-create and catalyze action together to shape the technology and science stories on the horizon, to say nothing of that future itself. We’ll continue to make quality the primary concern — and they’re here to support that mandate, and augment this team with additional resources to accomplish it. If even the appearance of a conflict presents itself, as always, we’ll default to disclosure. But it’d be absurd of us not to take advantage of the immense base of knowledge our new partners in Mountain View have on offer (an apt comparison here would be, say, Harvard Business Review to H.B.S. or M.I.T. and our contemporaries at the MIT Technology Review).

We’ve been circling this partnership for a while; they, fans of ours, and us, fans of theirs. The original mandate of Futurism as written by our C.E.O. Alex Klokus was to increase the rate of human adaptability towards the future through delivering on the news of where that future is headed. Singularity University concerns itself with educating the world on the exponential growth technologies changing our lives. It’s a perfect merging of interests. Where exponential growth technologies are concerned: One only need look as far as the way online advertising and social platforms changed the economics of media to see this. To find a home with a growing institution that will prove increasingly vital to the growing global community they’ve already established in spades is the best possible outcome. And no, we didn’t get crazy-rich or anything. But we did galvanize the future (and all its possibilities) for everyone at this company, and our ability to keep serving you, our readers.

We’re immensely proud of the scrappy, tight team here; and especially you, our community of readers and partners we’ve grown with these last few years. We’re proud of the product we’ve created, especially last year, when we steered away from reliance on social media platforms for an audience, and reconfigured an editorial strategy around the priority of driving you directly to Futurism.com daily, by prioritizing quality, topicality, reliability, and on-site presentation (shocker: it worked). Now, we proud to be able to do more, better, of what we’ve always done here:

Tell the stories of tomorrow, today. On behalf of the entire Brooklyn-based Futurism team, thanks for being along for the ride so far, and on behalf of the new Futurism x Singularity University family, here’s to more of where that came from.

The future, as ever, is looking bright. We can’t wait to tell you about it.

– Foster Kamer
Director of Content

James Del
Publisher

Sarah Marquart
Director of Strategic Operations

Geoff Clark
President of Futurism Studios

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Special Announcement: Futurism Media and Singularity University

Just 19 Percent of Americans Trust Self-Driving Cars With Kids

A new survey by AAA shows that most Americans distrust self-driving cars. In the past two years, public trust in the emerging technology has gone down.

Poor Turnout

While tech companies like Waymo, Uber, and Tesla race to be the first to build a fully-autonomous vehicle, the public is left eating their dust.

About 71 percent of Americans say that they don’t trust self-driving cars, according to a new American Automobile Association (AAA) survey. That’s roughly the same percentage as last year’s survey, but it’s eight points higher than in 2017, according to Bloomberg and just 19 percent say they’d put their children or family members into an autonomous vehicle.

Overall, the data is a striking sign of public fatigue with self-driving cars.

Track Record

Autonomous vehicles, unlike some other emerging technologies, have suffered very public setbacks, including when an Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian a year ago.

“It’s possible that the sustained level of fear is rooted in a heightened focus, whether good or bad, on incidents involving these types of vehicles,” said AAA director of automotive engineering Greg Brannon in a statement obtained by Bloomberg. “Also it could simply be due to a fear of the unknown.”

Uphill Battle

The AAA survey found that Americans are more accepting of autonomous vehicle tech in limited-use cases. For example, 53 percent of survey respondents were okay with self-driving trams or shuttles being used in areas like theme parks, while 44 percent accepted the idea of autonomous food-delivery bots.

Self-driving car companies are currently engaging in public relations efforts to earn people’s trust, Bloomberg reports. But if these AAA numbers are any indication, there’s a long way to go.

READ MORE: Americans Still Fear Self-Driving Cars [Bloomberg]

More on autonomous vehicles: Exclusive: A Waymo One Rider’s Experiences Highlight Autonomous Rideshare’s Shortcomings

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Just 19 Percent of Americans Trust Self-Driving Cars With Kids

This Guy Spent a Whole Week In a VR Headset

Jak Wilmot, co-founder of Disrupt VR, an Atlanta-based VR content studio, spent 168 consecutive hours in a VR headset, locked up in his apartment.

The Dumbest Thing

Jak Wilmot, the co-founder of Atlanta-based VR content studioDisrupt VR, spent 168 consecutive hours in a VR headset — that’s a full week — pent up in his apartment.

“This is quite possibly the dumbest thing I’ve ever done, but welcome to a week in the future,” he said in a video about the experiment.

To make the experience even more futuristic, Wilmot livestreamed the entire week on Twitch late last month, later uploading a wrapup video on his entire week on YouTube.

The rules were simple: he could switch from a computer-based Oculus headset to a different, untethered headset for thirty seconds while his eyes were closed. His windows were blacked out, he said, so that his physical body didn’t have to rely on the daylight-dependent circadian rhythm.

His more mobile VR headset had a built in camera in the front, so that he was able to “see” his physical surroundings — but not directly with his own eyes.

“Everything is in the Headset”

Wilmot worked, ate and exercised inside virtual reality. Sleeping in the headset turned out to be “more comfortable” than Wilmot anticipated, though his eyes burned a bit.

“If one is feeling stressed, they can load into a natural environment for ten minutes and relax,” he said in the video. “If one is feeling energetic, they can dispel energy in a fitness game — these are like the new rules of the reality I’ve thrown myself in. Everything is in the headset.”

VR Connection

Wilmot believes that virtual reality is what you make it. If you want to be alone, you can spend time by yourself in a gaming session, slaying dragons in Skyrim VR. Or you can chose to join the cacophony of VRChat — a communal free-for-all multiplayer online platform that allows you to interact with avatars controlled by complete strangers.

“VR is stepping into the shoes of someone else, or stepping into a spaceship and talking to friends,” said Wilmot. “It’s very easy to find your tribe, to make friends, to communicate with others through a virtual landscape, where its no longer through digital window [like a monitor], but actually being there with them. To me that’s what VR is — connection.”

Escaping Virtual Reality

After seven days of living inside the headset, Wilmot took off the goggles and relearned what it’s like to live in the real world.

Experiment_01… ????????

Subject Status… ????? pic.twitter.com/HC0Jqb3aZq

— jak (@JakWilmot) February 27, 2019

Apart from slight dizziness and some disorientation, he came back to normal almost instantly.

One major advantage to not living inside a VR headset: “oh my gosh,” he said, “the graphics are so good.”

READ MORE: This Guy Is Spending A Full Week In VR, For Science [VR Scout]

More on virtual reality: Sex Researchers: For Many, Virtual Lovers Will Replace Humans

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This Guy Spent a Whole Week In a VR Headset

How Can We Build Cities to Accommodate 6.5 Billion People?

By 2050, 6.5 billion people will choose to live in cities. These individuals will require employment and access to better healthcare from an infrastructure that is already extremely vulnerable. The Global Maker Challenge asked makers and innovators to help put forward solutions for this issue, and they delivered.

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How Can We Build Cities to Accommodate 6.5 Billion People?

Elon Musk: 2019 Will Be “the Year of the Solar Roof”

During the unveiling of Tesla's highly anticipated Model Y, CEO Elon Musk announced that the company would focus on its Solar Roof and Powerwall in 2019.

Looking Up

During the unveiling of Tesla’s highly anticipated Model Y Thursday night, CEO Elon Musk shared his vision for his company’s immediate future — and it had little to do with cars.

“This is definitely going to be the year of the Solar Roof and Powerwall,” he told the audience, according to Inverse — a sign that Tesla is shifting its focus from the road to the home, with the ultimate goal of creating a fully sustainable future.

Pretty Picture

In August 2017, Tesla gave the world its first glimpse of an installed Solar Roof, and it looked, well, a lot like any other roof. But that was the point — Tesla’s solar tiles didn’t have the jarring appearance of many home solar panels.

That aesthetically pleasing design — combined with the tiles’ affordability and “infinity warranty” — had solar energy expert Senthil Balasubramanian predicting Tesla would be a “game changer” for clean energy.

With the exception of the occasional massive battery project, though, we haven’t heard much about Tesla’s home energy products since then. The company spent much of 2017 and 2018 focused on getting through the Model 3’s “production hell” and dealing with the fallout from Musk’s latest public misstep.

Under One Roof

But now that Model 3 production is humming along, Tesla has the bandwidth to shift some of its engineering focus back to its Solar Roof and home batteries, according to Musk — and that should go a long way toward helping the company meet its ambitious goal of a more sustainable energy system.

“Solar plus battery plus electric vehicles, we have a fully sustainable future,” Musk told the audience Thursday. “That’s a future you can feel really excited and optimistic about. I think that really matters.”

READ MORE: Tesla Solar Roof: Elon Musk Declares 2019 Will Be the Year of the Roof [Inverse]

More on Tesla: Solar Expert Predicts Tesla Will Be a “Game-Changer” for Clean Energy

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Elon Musk: 2019 Will Be “the Year of the Solar Roof”

Here’s How Hackers Stole $15 Million From Mexican Banks

In April, bank hackers stole the equivalent of $20 million from Mexico's central bank thanks to a network rife with security flaws.

Ocean’s Once

In April 2018, hackers stole the equivalent of $15 million from Mexican banks — and now we know how they probably did it.

Penetration tester and security advisor Josu Loza was one of the experts called in to respond to the April heist, and on March 8 he presented his findings at the RSA Security conference in San Francisco.

Based on his analysis, Mexico’s central bank wasn’t doing nearly enough to protect its clients’ money — but other financial institutions could avoid the same fate if they’re willing to work together.

Easy Money

On Friday, Wired published a story detailing the information Loza shared with the audience at RSA’s conference. Based on his assessment, the success of the heist was due to a combination of expert bank hackers willing to spend months planning their crime and a banking network rife with security holes.

During the presentation, Loza made the case that the hackers might have accessed the Banco de México’s internal servers from the public internet, or perhaps launched phishing attacks on bank executives or employees to gain access.

Regardless of how they first got access, Loza said, the main problem was putting too many eggs in one security basket. Because many of the networks lacked adequate segmentation and access controls, he argued, a single breach could provide the bank hackers with extensive access.

That enabled them to lay the groundwork to eventually make numerous money transfers in smaller amounts, perhaps $5,000 or so, to accounts under their control. They’d then pay hundreds of “cash mules” each a small sum — Loza estimated that $260 might be enough — to withdraw the money for them.

Cyber Insecurity

The bank hackers are still at large, but the heist appears to have served as a wake-up call for the Banco de México.

“From last year to today the focus has been implementing controls. Control, control, control,” Lazo said during his presentation, according to Wired. “And I think the attacks aren’t happening today because of it.”

He also noted the need for companies to collaborate to defend against cyberattacks.

“Mexican people need to start to work together. All the institutions need to cooperate more,” Loza said. “The main problem on cybersecurity is that we don’t share knowledge and information or talk about attacks enough. People don’t want to make details about incidents public.”

READ MORE: HOW HACKERS PULLED OFF A $20 MILLION MEXICAN BANK HEIST [Wired]

More on hacking: Hacker Figures out How to Drain $1 Million in Cash From ATM

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Here’s How Hackers Stole $15 Million From Mexican Banks

Slack Just Removed a Bunch of Hate Groups

Workplace messaging app Slack just announced that it banned 28 accounts that were known to be affiliated with hate groups.

Violating Terms

Slack, the team collaboration app commonly used to connect people within workplaces, announced Thursday that it had deleted 28 accounts that were clearly affiliated with hate groups, according to the company’s blog.

The announcement, sparse on concrete details or specifics, states that hate groups are explicitly unwelcome on the app and that Slack will continue to investigate and act on any future reports of hate speech or illegal activity.

“Today we removed 28 accounts because of their clear affiliation with known hate groups,” the statement reads. “The use of Slack by hate groups runs counter to everything we believe in at Slack and is not welcome on our platform.”

Joining the Fight

In recent years, major platforms like Facebook and Twitter have struggled to keep white supremacists and other hate groups from spreading their messages across the internet, though both ban Nazi messaging in Germany, where Holocaust denial is illegal.

Smaller scale platforms like Discord also recently started acting against hate groups, according to The Verge, which speculates that Slack’s focus on business communications instead of cultivating largescale communities may have helped the company avoid the issue of online hatemongering.

Real World Consequences

When hate speech is allowed to propagate online, it can lead to real-world violence — like the murder of Heather Heyer at a 2017 white supremacist rally. But banning hate groups and de-platforming the people behind them, as Slack claims to have done, is a successful strategy.

When right-wing activist Milo Yiannopolous was no longer permitted by online platforms to spread his racist and misogynistic viewpoints, he found himself effectively powerless and millions of dollars in debt, according to The Guardian.

“Using Slack to encourage or incite hatred and violence against groups or individuals because of who they are is antithetical to our values and the very purpose of Slack,” the company’s statement reads. “When we are made aware of an organization using Slack for illegal, harmful, or other prohibited purposes, we will investigate and take appropriate action and we are updating our terms of service to make that more explicit.”

READ MORE: Slack says it removed dozens of accounts affiliated with hate groups [The Verge]

More on content moderation: The UK Government Is Planning to Regulate Hate Speech Online

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Slack Just Removed a Bunch of Hate Groups

Presidential Hopeful Beto O’Rourke Belonged to Infamous Hacker Group

2020 Presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke was reportedly part of the hacktivist group known as the Cult of the Dead Cow during his teenage years.

Political Hack

Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke just admitted to spending his teenage years as part of the Cult of the Dead Cow (CDC), a group of hackers that first coined the term “hacktivism.”

O’Rourke, who failed to unseat Senator Ted Cruz in the 2018 midterm election and recently decided to run for president instead of challenging Senator John Cornyn in 2020, told Reuters that he credits the hacker group for helping develop his worldview — an intriguing admission for an unusual candidate who skateboards and used to play in a punk band.

Hacker-Lite

According to Reuters, there’s no evidence that O’Rourke actually engaged in any sort of serious hacking, though he did cop to stealing the long-distance phone service necessary for reaching the online message boards of the day.

Rather, O’Rourke seemed to spend his time in the Cult of the Dead Cow writing and sharing fiction with the community, such as a short story he wrote at age 15 about running over children in a car, Reuters reports.

“We weren’t deliberately looking for hacking chops,” CDC founder Kevin Wheeler told Reuters, describing the group’s attitude during the period of time O’Rourke was most active. “It was very much about personality and writing, really. For a long time, the ‘test,’ or evaluation, was to write [text files]. Everyone was expected to write things. If we were stoked to have more hacker-oriented people, it was because we’d be excited to have a broader range in our t-files.”

Formative Years

“There’s just this profound value in being able to be apart from the system and look at it critically and have fun while you’re doing it,” O’Rourke said. “I think of the Cult of the Dead Cow as a great example of that.”

The presidential hopeful, who espouses a mix of traditional liberal and libertarian views, describes the group as a sort of network for outcasts from society.

“When Dad bought an Apple IIe and a 300-baud modem and I started to get on boards, it was the Facebook of its day,” he said. “You just wanted to be part of a community.”

READ MORE: Beto O’Rourke’s secret membership in America’s oldest hacking group [Reuters]

More on hacktivism: It’s Now Scary to Be A White Hat Hacker Thanks to the US Government

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Presidential Hopeful Beto O’Rourke Belonged to Infamous Hacker Group

New Robot Hand Works Like a Venus Flytrap to Grip Objects

A team from MIT and Harvard has created a robot hand that's not only strong, but also soft — and it could usher in a new era in robotics.

Versatile Touch

If we want robots to take over more tasks for humans, we need to give them more versatile hands.

Right now, many robot hands can only complete specialized tasks. Ones that are strong often have trouble with tasks that require a delicate touch, and soft hands often don’t pack much of a punch when it comes to strength.

But now, a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University have created a robot hand that’s not only strong, but also soft — and it could usher in a new era in robotics.

Show of Hands

The team drew inspiration for its hand from the origami magic ball. Rather than using some sort of finger-like grippers, their cone-shaped robot hand envelopes an object and then collapses around it, much like a Venus flytrap captures its prey.

The pressure applied is enough for the hand to lift objects up to 100 times its own weight, but it can also handle far more delicate, light objects. A video released by MIT demonstrates the hand’s ability to pick up everything from a soup can to a banana.

Soft, but Strong

University of California at Santa Cruz robotics professor Michael Wehner, who was not involved in the project, praised the hand, noting its novelty in an interview with MIT News.

“This is a very clever device that uses the power of 3-D printing, a vacuum, and soft robotics to approach the problem of grasping in a whole new way,” Wehner said. “In the coming years, I could imagine seeing soft robots gentle and dexterous enough to pick a rose, yet strong enough to safely lift a hospital patient.”

READ MORE: Robot hand is soft and strong [MIT News]

More on robot hands: This AI-Operated Robotic Hand Moves With “Unprecedented Dexterity”

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New Robot Hand Works Like a Venus Flytrap to Grip Objects

States Are Approving Cannabis to Fight Opioid Addiction

Risky Maneuver

So far, two U.S. states, New York and Illinois, have legalized the use of cannabis to help treat chronic pain as an alternative to addictive opioids.

Ask anyone on the street, and they would probably tell you that cannabis helps people chill out. The chemical similarities between cannabis and opioids make it seem, anecdotally, like cannabis could help reduce opioid addiction. Both drugs mitigate similar symptoms and usher in similar experiences – but cannabis is far less dangerous on its own.

But anecdotal evidence only goes so far.

Mixed Bag

While it’s hard to criticize something that could help alleviate the opioid epidemic, the physiological impact of treating either chronic pain or opioid addiction with cannabis hasn’t undergone nearly the same rigor of scientific study as other medical treatments, according to Scientific American.

Overall, scientists have faced many challenges when it comes to experimenting with cannabis. Though Scientific American reports that some clinical research is finally starting to support it, overall, there’s just not a lot of evidence backing up that anecdotal hunch.

But because other opioid addiction treatments like methadone already work, and because cutting people off of them can be dangerous, scientists argued that switching people already taking prescription opioids over to a prescription of cannabis could actually be dangerous in a perspective letter recently published to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Pain Factor

The big question is whether cannabis will not only be able to help people already addicted to opioids, but also the chronic pain that the opioids may have been for in the first place.

In this case, research is once more limited. Plenty of studies suggest that cannabis treats pain, but a research paper published in European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience earlier this year found that most cannabis pain studies had severe limitations, calling their findings into question.

Legalizing marijuana could help people find all sorts of new treatments. And while exploring new tools to help treat people affected by the opioid epidemic is commendable, cannabis likely won’t end up being the answer.

READ MORE: Can Cannabis Solve the Opioid Crisis? [Scientific American]

More on cannabis: New Senate Bill Would Legalize Marijuana Nationwide

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States Are Approving Cannabis to Fight Opioid Addiction

This Tech Could Secure Medical Implants Against Hackers

Many of today's medical implants communicate via Bluetooth, which makes them vulnerable to hacking, but a new system could change that.

Heart Hack

An implanted medical device can dramatically improve a person’s quality of life — or even save their life outright.

However, the devices come with serious security vulnerabilities, and it’s not hard to imagine the damage a person could do by hacking someone’s pacemaker, insulin pump, or brain implant.

Now, researchers from Purdue University have found a way to prevent hackers from intercepting the wireless signals used to communicate with implanted devices — and their creation could ensure the “internet of body” remains secure in the future.

Watch This

Many people monitor their implants via electronic devices, such as smart watches or smartphones, with the implants and devices communicating over Bluetooth.

Those wireless signals can extend as far as 10 meters away from a person’s body, according to the Purdue researchers – meaning someone in the vicinity of the implant owner could intercept the information — and perhaps manipulate it.

In a new paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers detail how they created a prototype watch that avoids this issue.

Short Leash

According to the researchers, their watch can receive a signal from anywhere on a person’s body, but instead of communicating over Bluetooth, the electrical signals travel through the person’s own body fluids to reach the watch, never extending more than one centimeter beyond the person’s skin.

As a bonus, the system also requires 100 times less energy than Bluetooth, according to the researchers — but its ability to protect incredibly sensitive communications could be reason enough for the technology to replace Bluetooth for implant applications in the future.

READ MORE: Your body is your internet – and now it can’t be hacked [Purdue University]

More on implants: New Brain Implant Could Translate Paralyzed People’s Thoughts Into Speech

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This Tech Could Secure Medical Implants Against Hackers

New Rocket Engine Could Whip You From London to Sydney in 4 Hours

The makers of a new hypersonic rocket engine say it could whip flights from London to Sydney in just four hours, traveling at five times the speed of sound.

Rocket Plane

The makers of a new hypersonic rocket engine say it could whisk flights from London to Sydney in just four hours, traveling at five times the speed of sound. That’s a flight that can take 20 hours on a conventional jetliner.

According to the BBCUK company Reaction Engines says it’s gearing up to test the futuristic craft in Colorado — a startling vision of the future of transportation that could also, if the engine lives up to the hype, inform the future of spaceflight.

Screaming Fist

Reaction Engines, which has backing from the Rolls-Royce and Boeing, calls the new rocket engine the Sabre. It inhales air at lower altitudes, but works more like a rocket when it gets higher up.

“The core can be tested on the ground, but it’s the core that gets you air-breathing from the ground up to the edge of space, at which point there is no more oxygen to breathe and the system transitions to the pure rocket mode,” said Shaun Driscoll, Reaction Engines’ program director, according to the BBC.

Orbiter

The company also says the Sabre engine could push the frontiers of spaceflight, by sending crafts straight into orbit without multiple propellant stages, according to the BBC, which also reported that the the European Space Agency recently signed off on a design review for the Sabre engine.

“The positive conclusion of our Preliminary Design Review marks a major milestone in Sabre development,” ESA’s head of propulsion engineering Mark Ford told the broadcaster. “It confirms the test version of this revolutionary new class of engine is ready for implementation.”

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NASA: Space Travel Is Causing Astronauts’ Herpes to Flare Up

Tests show that dormant herpes viruses reactivate in more than half the astronauts who travel on the Space Shuttle and International Space station.

Dormant Viruses

Tests show that dormant herpes viruses reactivate in more than half the astronauts who travel on the Space Shuttle and International Space station, according to new NASA research — a phenomenon the space agency says could pose problems for deep space missions.

“During spaceflight there is a rise in secretion of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which are known to suppress the immune system, ” said study author Satish Mehta, a researcher at Johnson Space Center, in a press release. “In keeping with this, we find that astronaut’s immune cells — particularly those that normally suppress and eliminate viruses — become less effective during spaceflight and sometimes for up to 60 days after.”

Less Effective

In research published last month in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, Mehta and colleagues found that astronauts shed more herpes viruses in their urine and saliva than before or after space travel. The culprit, they suspect, is just the stress of spaceflight.

“NASA astronauts endure weeks or even months exposed to microgravity and cosmic radiation — not to mention the extreme G forces of take-off and re-entry,” Mehta said in the press release. “This physical challenge is compounded by more familiar stressors like social separation, confinement and an altered sleep-wake cycle.”

Minor Symptoms

Fortunately, symptoms were relatively rare. Out of 89 astronauts the team studied, only six experienced herpes breakouts in space, according to the paper — a rate of about seven percent.

The viral shedding also got worse the longer the astronauts were off Earth, leading researchers to worry the phenomenon could represent a challenge for deep space travel.

“While only a small proportion develop symptoms, virus reactivation rates increase with spaceflight duration and could present a significant health risk on missions to Mars and beyond,” reads the press release.

READ MORE: Dormant viruses activate during spaceflight [Phys.org]

More on herpes: Immune Cells Working Together To Kill Herpes Virus Captured on Video

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NASA: Space Travel Is Causing Astronauts’ Herpes to Flare Up

NASA Engineer: Humans Should Consider Settling Saturn’s Moon Titan

nasa-engineer-humans-settling-titan

Destination: Titan

If the Earth becomes inhabitable, a NASA engineer named Janelle Wellons says we should think about settling Saturn’s moon Titan, and she has a laundry list of reasons why — including that you might be able to fly by flapping your arms.

“It has a thick atmosphere that could help protect us from space radiation,” Wellons wrote on Reddit. “It is so dense that we could actually attach wings to our arms and fly on this moon. I don’t know, it just seems like an awesome place to live.”

Largest Moon

Wellon’s comments came in a Reddit appearance in which NASA engineers, scientists and pilots fielded questions from the public. One Redditor asked where the team would recommend settling if conditions on Earth became untenable, and Wellons chimed in with what she said was a “more interesting answer than the standard Mars or Moon response.”

“How about we consider one of the water worlds in our solar system — Titan,” she wrote. “Titan is the largest moon of Saturn, larger than the planet Mercury even, so I think we could settle with plenty room.”

Swim Good

In spite of Wellon’s enthusiasm, there are definite downsides to Titan. It only gets about one percent of the sunlight Earth does, and according to NASA’s research its maximum temperature is a wintry -292 degrees Fahrenheit.

But Wellon is still a fan.

“Now as for the conditions on the surface — not as rough as you may think,” she wrote. “Titan is the only place besides Earth known to have liquids in the form of lakes and seas on its surface. These liquids are made of methane but, armed with the right kind of protective gear, one could theoretically be able to swim without harm!”

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The Pentagon Wants an Orbital Space Weapon to Blast Enemy Missiles

Space Laser

You know the scene in “Akira” where Tetsuo rips a satellite space weapon out of orbit?

Now the U.S. military wants to try something similar, according to Defense One. The Pentagon is requesting hundreds of millions of dollars to ramp up space-based weaponry including particle beams and space lasers that’ll fire downward at Earthly targets — a dark vision of the militarization of space.

Ballistic Missiles

According to Defense One, a Missile Defense Agency document released this week describes the military’s ambitions to disable ballistic missiles right as they launch.

“The addition of the neutral particle Beam effort will design, develop, and conduct a feasibility demonstration for a space-based Directed Energy Intercept layer,” it reads. “This future system will offer new kill options for the [Ballistic Missile Defense System] and adds another layer of protection for the homeland.”

Orbital Weaponry

Several contractors have prepared prototype orbital weaponry designs for the Pentagon over the years, according to Defense One, but they’ve been enormous and impractical. But now officials hope advances could make such a weapon feasible for a test by 2023.

“We’ve come a long way in terms of the technology we use today to where a full, all-up system wouldn’t be the size of three of these conference rooms, right?” said a senior defense official, according to Defense One. “We now believe we can get it down to a package that we can put on as part of a payload to be placed on orbit.”

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The Pentagon Wants an Orbital Space Weapon to Blast Enemy Missiles

Computer Fraud Laws are Flawed, this Lawyer is Fighting Against Them

Tor Ekeland, hacker lawyer, fights back against the harsh punishments decreed using the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. And one of those fights can be seen in “Trust Machine,” available now at Breaker.io.

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Computer Fraud Laws are Flawed, this Lawyer is Fighting Against Them

Astronomers Just Found 83 Giant Black Holes at Universe’s Edge

An international team of researchers says it's found 83 new supermassive black holes at extreme end of the visible universe.

Hole Story

An international team of researchers says it’s found 83 new supermassive black holes at extreme end of the visible universe — by looking at light that took so long to reach Earth that it dates from the early universe.

“It is remarkable that such massive dense objects were able to form so soon after the Big Bang,” said Michael Strauss, a professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University involved in the research, in a press release. “Understanding how black holes can form in the early universe, and just how common they are, is a challenge for our cosmological models.”

Squad Goals

The discovery was made by 48 astronomers around the world who described the findings in five new papers in The Astrophysical Journal and the Publications of the Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

The finding was based on data taken with the Hyper Suprime-Cam, a “cutting-edge instrument” at the Subaru Telescope at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, in Hawaii, which the researchers combined with readings from three more powerful telescopes around the world.

Quasar Theory

The newly-discovered black holes are quasars, which shoot out matter in powerful jets. The researchers are hoping that more datagathering and analysis will shed light onto how some of the earliest quasars in the universe formed.

“The quasars we discovered will be an interesting subject for further follow-up observations with current and future facilities,” said Yoshiki Matsuok, a researcher at Ehime University who worked on the discovery. “We will also learn about the formation and early evolution of [super massive black holes], by comparing the measured number density and luminosity distribution with predictions from theoretical models.”

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Cyborg – Wikipedia

A cyborg (), short for “cybernetic organism”, is a being with both organic and biomechatronic body parts. The term was coined in 1960 by Manfred Clynes and Nathan S. Kline.[1]

The term cyborg is not the same thing as bionic, biorobot or android; it applies to an organism that has restored function or enhanced abilities due to the integration of some artificial component or technology that relies on some sort of feedback.[2] While cyborgs are commonly thought of as mammals, including humans, they might also conceivably be any kind of organism.

D. S. Halacy’s Cyborg: Evolution of the Superman in 1965 featured an introduction which spoke of a “new frontier” that was “not merely space, but more profoundly the relationship between ‘inner space’ to ‘outer space’ a bridge…between mind and matter.”[3]

In popular culture, some cyborgs may be represented as visibly mechanical (e.g., Cyborg from DC Comics, the Cybermen in the Doctor Who franchise or The Borg from Star Trek or Darth Vader from Star Wars) or as almost indistinguishable from humans (e.g., the “Human” Cylons from the re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica, etc.). Cyborgs in fiction often play up a human contempt for over-dependence on technology, particularly when used for war, and when used in ways that seem to threaten free will.[citation needed] Cyborgs are also often portrayed with physical or mental abilities far exceeding a human counterpart (military forms may have inbuilt weapons, among other things), such as RoboCop.[citation needed]

According to some definitions of the term, the physical attachments humanity has with even the most basic technologies have already made them cyborgs.[4] In a typical example, a human with an artificial cardiac pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator would be considered a cyborg, since these devices measure voltage potentials in the body, perform signal processing, and can deliver electrical stimuli, using this synthetic feedback mechanism to keep that person alive. Implants, especially cochlear implants, that combine mechanical modification with any kind of feedback response are also cyborg enhancements. Some theorists[who?] cite such modifications as contact lenses, hearing aids, or intraocular lenses as examples of fitting humans with technology to enhance their biological capabilities. As cyborgs currently are on the rise some theorists argue there is a need to develop new definitions of aging and for instance a bio-techno-social definition of aging has been suggested.[5]

The term is also used to address human-technology mixtures in the abstract. This includes not only commonly used pieces of technology such as phones, computers, the Internet, etc. but also artifacts that may not popularly be considered technology; for example, pen and paper, and speech and language. When augmented with these technologies and connected in communication with people in other times and places, a person becomes capable of much more than they were before. An example is a computer, which gains power by using Internet protocols to connect with other computers. Another example, which is becoming more and more relevant is a bot-assisted human or human-assisted-bot, used to target social media with likes and shares.[6] Cybernetic technologies include highways, pipes, electrical wiring, buildings, electrical plants, libraries, and other infrastructure that we hardly notice, but which are critical parts of the cybernetics that we work within.

Bruce Sterling in his universe of Shaper/Mechanist suggested an idea of alternative cyborg called Lobster, which is made not by using internal implants, but by using an external shell (e.g. a Powered Exoskeleton).[7] Unlike human cyborgs that appear human externally while being synthetic internally (e.g. the Bishop type in the Alien franchise), Lobster looks inhuman externally but contains a human internally (e.g. Elysium, RoboCop). The computer game Deus Ex: Invisible War prominently featured cyborgs called Omar, where “Omar” is a Russian translation of the word “Lobster” (since the Omar are of Russian origin in the game).

The concept of a man-machine mixture was widespread in science fiction before World War II. As early as 1843, Edgar Allan Poe described a man with extensive prostheses in the short story “The Man That Was Used Up”. In 1911, Jean de La Hire introduced the Nyctalope, a science fiction hero who was perhaps the first literary cyborg, in Le Mystre des XV (later translated as The Nyctalope on Mars).[8][9][10] Edmond Hamilton presented space explorers with a mixture of organic and machine parts in his novel The Comet Doom in 1928. He later featured the talking, living brain of an old scientist, Simon Wright, floating around in a transparent case, in all the adventures of his famous hero, Captain Future. He uses the term explicitly in the 1962 short story, “After a Judgment Day,” to describe the “mechanical analogs” called “Charlies,” explaining that “[c]yborgs, they had been called from the first one in the 1960s…cybernetic organisms.” In the short story “No Woman Born” in 1944, C. L. Moore wrote of Deirdre, a dancer, whose body was burned completely and whose brain was placed in a faceless but beautiful and supple mechanical body.

The term was coined by Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline in 1960 to refer to their conception of an enhanced human being who could survive in extraterrestrial environments:

Their concept was the outcome of thinking about the need for an intimate relationship between human and machine as the new frontier of space exploration was beginning to open up. A designer of physiological instrumentation and electronic data-processing systems, Clynes was the chief research scientist in the Dynamic Simulation Laboratory at Rockland State Hospital in New York.

The term first appears in print five months earlier when The New York Times reported on the Psychophysiological Aspects of Space Flight Symposium where Clynes and Kline first presented their paper.

A book titled Cyborg: Digital Destiny and Human Possibility in the Age of the Wearable Computer was published by Doubleday in 2001.[13] Some of the ideas in the book were incorporated into the 35mm motion picture film Cyberman.

Cyborg tissues structured with carbon nanotubes and plant or fungal cells have been used in artificial tissue engineering to produce new materials for mechanical and electrical uses.The work was presented by Di Giacomo and Maresca at MRS 2013 Spring conference on Apr, 3rd, talk number SS4.04.[14] The cyborg obtained is inexpensive, light and has unique mechanical properties. It can also be shaped in desired forms. Cells combined with MWCNTs co-precipitated as a specific aggregate of cells and nanotubes that formed a viscous material. Likewise, dried cells still acted as a stable matrix for the MWCNT network. When observed by optical microscopy the material resembled an artificial “tissue” composed of highly packed cells. The effect of cell drying is manifested by their “ghost cell” appearance. A rather specific physical interaction between MWCNTs and cells was observed by electron microscopy suggesting that the cell wall (the most outer part of fungal and plant cells) may play a major active role in establishing a CNTs network and its stabilization. This novel material can be used in a wide range of electronic applications from heating to sensing and has the potential to open important new avenues to be exploited in electromagnetic shielding for radio frequency electronics and aerospace technology. In particular using Candida albicans cells cyborg tissue materials with temperature sensing properties have been reported.[15]

In current prosthetic applications, the C-Leg system developed by Otto Bock HealthCare is used to replace a human leg that has been amputated because of injury or illness. The use of sensors in the artificial C-Leg aids in walking significantly by attempting to replicate the user’s natural gait, as it would be prior to amputation.[16] Prostheses like the C-Leg and the more advanced iLimb are considered by some to be the first real steps towards the next generation of real-world cyborg applications.[citation needed] Additionally cochlear implants and magnetic implants which provide people with a sense that they would not otherwise have had can additionally be thought of as creating cyborgs.[citation needed]

In vision science, direct brain implants have been used to treat non-congenital (acquired) blindness. One of the first scientists to come up with a working brain interface to restore sight was private researcher William Dobelle.Dobelle’s first prototype was implanted into “Jerry”, a man blinded in adulthood, in 1978. A single-array BCI containing 68 electrodes was implanted onto Jerry’s visual cortex and succeeded in producing phosphenes, the sensation of seeing light. The system included cameras mounted on glasses to send signals to the implant. Initially, the implant allowed Jerry to see shades of grey in a limited field of vision at a low frame-rate. This also required him to be hooked up to a two-ton mainframe, but shrinking electronics and faster computers made his artificial eye more portable and now enable him to perform simple tasks unassisted.[17]

In 1997, Philip Kennedy, a scientist and physician, created the world’s first human cyborg from Johnny Ray, a Vietnam veteran who suffered a stroke. Ray’s body, as doctors called it, was “locked in”. Ray wanted his old life back so he agreed to Kennedy’s experiment. Kennedy embedded an implant he designed (and named “neurotrophic electrode”) near the part of Ray’s brain so that Ray would be able to have some movement back in his body. The surgery went successfully, but in 2002, Johnny Ray died.[18]

In 2002, Canadian Jens Naumann, also blinded in adulthood, became the first in a series of 16 paying patients to receive Dobelle’s second generation implant, marking one of the earliest commercial uses of BCIs. The second generation device used a more sophisticated implant enabling better mapping of phosphenes into coherent vision. Phosphenes are spread out across the visual field in what researchers call the starry-night effect. Immediately after his implant, Naumann was able to use his imperfectly restored vision to drive slowly around the parking area of the research institute.[19]

In contrast to replacement technologies, in 2002, under the heading Project Cyborg, a British scientist, Kevin Warwick, had an array of 100 electrodes fired into his nervous system in order to link his nervous system into the internet to investigate enhancement possibilities. With this in place Warwick successfully carried out a series of experiments including extending his nervous system over the internet to control a robotic hand, also receiving feedback from the fingertips in order to control the hand’s grip. This was a form of extended sensory input. Subsequently, he investigated ultrasonic input in order to remotely detect the distance to objects. Finally, with electrodes also implanted into his wife’s nervous system, they conducted the first direct electronic communication experiment between the nervous systems of two humans.[20][21]

Since 2004, British artist Neil Harbisson has had a cyborg antenna implanted in his head that allows him to extend his perception of colors beyond the human visual spectrum through vibrations in his skull.[22] His antenna was included within his 2004 passport photograph which has been claimed to confirm his cyborg status.[23] In 2012 at TEDGlobal,[24] Harbisson explained that he started to feel cyborg when he noticed that the software and his brain had united and given him an extra sense.[24] Neil Harbisson is a co-founder of the Cyborg Foundation (2004)[25]

Rob Spence, a Toronto-based film-maker, who titles himself a real life “Eyeborg”, severely damaged his right eye in a shooting accident on his grandfather’s farm as a child.[26]Many years later, in 2005, he decided to have his ever deteriorating and now technically blind eye surgically removed,[27] whereafter he wore an eye patch for some time before he later, after having played for some time with the idea of installing a camera instead, contacted professor Steve Mann at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an expert in wearable computing and cyborg technology.[28]

Under Mann’s guidance, Spence, at age 36, created a prototype in the form of a miniature camera which could be fitted inside his prostethic eye; an invention would come to be named by Time magazine as one of the best inventions of 2009. The bionic eye records everything he sees and contains a 1.5 mm-square, low-resolution video camera, a small round printed circuit board, a wireless video transmitter, which allows him to transmit what he is seeing in real time to a computer, and a 3-voltage rechargeable Varta microbattery. The eye is however not connected to his brain, and has neither restored his actual vision. Additionally, Spence has also installed a laser-like LED light in one version of the prototype.[29]

Furthermore many cyborgs with multifunctional microchips injected into their hand are known to exist. With the chips they are able swipe cards, open or unlock doors, operate devices such as printers or, with some using a cryptocurrency, buy products, such as drinks, with a wave of the hand.[30][31][32][33][34]

bodyNET is an application of human-electronic interaction currently in development by researchers from Stanford University.[35] The technology is based on stretchable semiconductor materials (Elastronic). According to their article in Nature (journal), the technology is composed of smart devices, screens, and a network of sensors that can be implanted into the body, woven into the skin or worn as clothes. It has been suggested, that this platform can potentially replace the smartphone in the future.[36]

The US-based company Backyard Brains released what they refer to as “The world’s first commercially available cyborg” called the RoboRoach. The project started as a University of Michigan biomedical engineering student senior design project in 2010[37] and was launched as an available beta product on 25 February 2011.[38] The RoboRoach was officially released into production via a TED talk at the TED Global conference,[39] and via the crowdsourcing website Kickstarter in 2013,[40] the kit allows students to use microstimulation to momentarily control the movements of a walking cockroach (left and right) using a bluetooth-enabled smartphone as the controller. Other groups have developed cyborg insects, including researchers at North Carolina State University,[41][42] UC Berkeley,[43][44] and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore,[45][46] but the RoboRoach was the first kit available to the general public and was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health as a device to serve as a teaching aid to promote an interest in neuroscience.[39] Several animal welfare organizations including the RSPCA [47] and PETA [48] have expressed concerns about the ethics and welfare of animals in this project.

In medicine, there are two important and different types of cyborgs: the restorative and the enhanced. Restorative technologies “restore lost function, organs, and limbs”.[49] The key aspect of restorative cyborgization is the repair of broken or missing processes to revert to a healthy or average level of function. There is no enhancement to the original faculties and processes that were lost.

On the contrary, the enhanced cyborg “follows a principle, and it is the principle of optimal performance: maximising output (the information or modifications obtained) and minimising input (the energy expended in the process)”.[50] Thus, the enhanced cyborg intends to exceed normal processes or even gain new functions that were not originally present.

Although prostheses in general supplement lost or damaged body parts with the integration of a mechanical artifice, bionic implants in medicine allow model organs or body parts to mimic the original function more closely. Michael Chorost wrote a memoir of his experience with cochlear implants, or bionic ear, titled “Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human.”[51] Jesse Sullivan became one of the first people to operate a fully robotic limb through a nerve-muscle graft, enabling him a complex range of motions beyond that of previous prosthetics.[52] By 2004, a fully functioning artificial heart was developed.[53] The continued technological development of bionic and nanotechnologies begins to raise the question of enhancement, and of the future possibilities for cyborgs which surpass the original functionality of the biological model. The ethics and desirability of “enhancement prosthetics” have been debated; their proponents include the transhumanist movement, with its belief that new technologies can assist the human race in developing beyond its present, normative limitations such as aging and disease, as well as other, more general incapacities, such as limitations on speed, strength, endurance, and intelligence. Opponents of the concept describe what they believe to be biases which propel the development and acceptance of such technologies; namely, a bias towards functionality and efficiency that may compel assent to a view of human people which de-emphasizes as defining characteristics actual manifestations of humanity and personhood, in favor of definition in terms of upgrades, versions, and utility.[54]

A brain-computer interface, or BCI, provides a direct path of communication from the brain to an external device, effectively creating a cyborg. Research of Invasive BCIs, which utilize electrodes implanted directly into the grey matter of the brain, has focused on restoring damaged eyesight in the blind and providing functionality to paralyzed people, most notably those with severe cases, such as Locked-In syndrome. This technology could enable people who are missing a limb or are in a wheelchair the power to control the devices that aide them through neural signals sent from the brain implants directly to computers or the devices. It is possible that this technology will also eventually be used with healthy people.[55]

Deep brain stimulation is a neurological surgical procedure used for therapeutic purposes. This process has aided in treating patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Tourette syndrome, epilepsy, chronic headaches, and mental disorders. After the patient is unconscious, through anesthesia, brain pacemakers or electrodes, are implanted into the region of the brain where the cause of the disease is present. The region of the brain is then stimulated by bursts of electric current to disrupt the oncoming surge of seizures. Like all invasive procedures, deep brain stimulation may put the patient at a higher risk. However, there have been more improvements in recent years with deep brain stimulation than any available drug treatment.[56]

Retinal implants are another form of cyborgization in medicine. The theory behind retinal stimulation to restore vision to people suffering from retinitis pigmentosa and vision loss due to aging (conditions in which people have an abnormally low number of ganglion cells) is that the retinal implant and electrical stimulation would act as a substitute for the missing ganglion cells (cells which connect the eye to the brain.)

While work to perfect this technology is still being done, there have already been major advances in the use of electronic stimulation of the retina to allow the eye to sense patterns of light. A specialized camera is worn by the subject, such as on the frames of their glasses, which converts the image into a pattern of electrical stimulation. A chip located in the user’s eye would then electrically stimulate the retina with this pattern by exciting certain nerve endings which transmit the image to the optic centers of the brain and the image would then appear to the user. If technological advances proceed as planned this technology may be used by thousands of blind people and restore vision to most of them.

A similar process has been created to aide people who have lost their vocal cords. This experimental device would do away with previously used robotic sounding voice simulators. The transmission of sound would start with a surgery to redirect the nerve that controls the voice and sound production to a muscle in the neck, where a nearby sensor would be able to pick up its electrical signals. The signals would then move to a processor which would control the timing and pitch of a voice simulator. That simulator would then vibrate producing a multitonal sound which could be shaped into words by the mouth.[57]

An article published in Nature Materials in 2012 reported a research on “cyborg tissues” (engineered human tissues with embedded three-dimensional mesh of nanoscale wires), with possible medical implications.[58]

In 2014, researchers from the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign and Washington University in St. Louis had developed a device that could keep a heart beating endlessly. By using 3D printing and computer modeling these scientist developed an electronic membrane that could successfully replace pacemakers. The device utilizes a “spider-web like network of sensors and electrodes” to monitor and maintain a normal heart-rate with electrical stimuli. Unlike traditional pacemakers that are similar from patient to patient, the elastic heart glove is made custom by using high-resolution imaging technology. The first prototype was created to fit a rabbit’s heart, operating the organ in an oxygen and nutrient-rich solution. The stretchable material and circuits of the apparatus were first constructed by Professor John A. Rogers in which the electrodes are arranged in a s-shape design to allow them to expand and bend without breaking. Although the device is only currently used as a research tool to study changes in heart rate, in the future the membrane may serve as a safeguard from heart attacks.[59]

Military organizations’ research has recently focused on the utilization of cyborg animals for the purposes of a supposed tactical advantage. DARPA has announced its interest in developing “cyborg insects” to transmit data from sensors implanted into the insect during the pupa stage. The insect’s motion would be controlled from a Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (MEMS) and could conceivably survey an environment or detect explosives and gas.[60] Similarly, DARPA is developing a neural implant to remotely control the movement of sharks. The shark’s unique senses would then be exploited to provide data feedback in relation to enemy ship movement or underwater explosives.[61]

In 2006, researchers at Cornell University invented[62] a new surgical procedure to implant artificial structures into insects during their metamorphic development.[63][64] The first insect cyborgs, moths with integrated electronics in their thorax, were demonstrated by the same researchers.[65][66] The initial success of the techniques has resulted in increased research and the creation of a program called Hybrid-Insect-MEMS, HI-MEMS. Its goal, according to DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office, is to develop “tightly coupled machine-insect interfaces by placing micro-mechanical systems inside the insects during the early stages of metamorphosis”.[67]

The use of neural implants has recently been attempted, with success, on cockroaches. Surgically applied electrodes were put on the insect, which were remotely controlled by a human. The results, although sometimes different, basically showed that the cockroach could be controlled by the impulses it received through the electrodes. DARPA is now funding this research because of its obvious beneficial applications to the military and other areas[68]

In 2009 at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Micro-electronic mechanical systems (MEMS) conference in Italy, researchers demonstrated the first “wireless” flying-beetle cyborg.[69] Engineers at the University of California at Berkeley have pioneered the design of a “remote controlled beetle”, funded by the DARPA HI-MEMS Program. Filmed evidence of this can be viewed here.[70] This was followed later that year by the demonstration of wireless control of a “lift-assisted” moth-cyborg.[71]

Eventually researchers plan to develop HI-MEMS for dragonflies, bees, rats and pigeons.[72][73] For the HI-MEMS cybernetic bug to be considered a success, it must fly 100 metres (330ft) from a starting point, guided via computer into a controlled landing within 5 metres (16ft) of a specific end point. Once landed, the cybernetic bug must remain in place.[72]

In 2016 the first cyborg Olympics were celebrated in Zurich Switzerland. Cybathlon 2016 were the first Olympics for cyborgs and the first worldwide and official celebration of cyborg sports. In this event, 16 teams of people with disabilities used technological developments to turn themselves into cyborg athletes. There were six different events and its competitors used and controlled advanced technologies such as powered prosthetic legs and arms, robotic exoskeletons, bikes and motorized wheelchairs.[74]

If on one hand this was already a remarkable improvement, as it allowed disabled people to compete and showed the several technological enhancements that are already making a difference, on the other hand it showed that there is still a long way to go. For instance, the exoskeleton race still required its participants to stand up from a chair and sit down, navigate a slalom and other simple activities such as walk over stepping stones and climb up and down stairs. Despite the simplicity of these activities, 8 of the 16 teams that participated in the event drop of before the start.[75]

Nonetheless, one of the main goals of this event and such simple activities is to show how technological enhancements and advanced prosthetic can make a difference in peoples’ lives. The next Cybathlon is expected to occur in 2020

The concept of the cyborg is often associated with science fiction. However, many artists have tried to create public awareness of cybernetic organisms; these can range from paintings to installations. Some artists who create such works are Neil Harbisson, Moon Ribas, Patricia Piccinini, Steve Mann, Orlan, H. R. Giger, Lee Bul, Wafaa Bilal, Tim Hawkinson and Stelarc.

Stelarc is a performance artist who has visually probed and acoustically amplified his body. He uses medical instruments, prosthetics, robotics, virtual reality systems, the Internet and biotechnology to explore alternate, intimate and involuntary interfaces with the body. He has made three films of the inside of his body and has performed with a third hand and a virtual arm. Between 19761988 he completed 25 body suspension performances with hooks into the skin. For ‘Third Ear’ he surgically constructed an extra ear within his arm that was internet enabled, making it a publicly accessible acoustical organ for people in other places.[76] He is presently performing as his avatar from his second life site.[77]

Tim Hawkinson promotes the idea that bodies and machines are coming together as one, where human features are combined with technology to create the Cyborg. Hawkinson’s piece Emoter presented how society is now dependent on technology.[78]

Wafaa Bilal is an Iraqi-American performance artist who had a small 10 megapixel digital camera surgically implanted into the back of his head, part of a project entitled 3rd I.[79] For one year, beginning 15 December 2010, an image is captured once per minute 24 hours a day and streamed live to http://www.3rdi.me and the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art. The site also displays Bilal’s location via GPS. Bilal says that the reason why he put the camera in the back of the head was to make an “allegorical statement about the things we don’t see and leave behind.”[80] As a professor at NYU, this project has raised privacy issues, and so Bilal has been asked to ensure that his camera does not take photographs in NYU buildings.[80]

Machines are becoming more ubiquitous in the artistic process itself, with computerized drawing pads replacing pen and paper, and drum machines becoming nearly as popular as human drummers. This is perhaps most notable in generative art and music. Composers such as Brian Eno have developed and utilized software which can build entire musical scores from a few basic mathematical parameters.[81]

Scott Draves is a generative artist whose work is explicitly described as a “cyborg mind”. His Electric Sheep project generates abstract art by combining the work of many computers and people over the internet.[82]

Artists have explored the term cyborg from a perspective involving imagination. Some work to make an abstract idea of technological and human-bodily union apparent to reality in an art form utilizing varying mediums, from sculptures and drawings to digital renderings.Artists that seek to make cyborg-based fantasies a reality often call themselves cyborg artists, or may consider their artwork “cyborg”. How an artist or their work may be considered cyborg will vary depending upon the interpreter’s flexibility with the term.Scholars that rely upon a strict, technical description of cyborg, often going by Norbert Wiener’s cybernetic theory and Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline’s first use of the term, would likely argue that most cyborg artists do not qualify to be considered cyborgs.[83] Scholars considering a more flexible description of cyborgs may argue it incorporates more than cybernetics.[84] Others may speak of defining subcategories, or specialized cyborg types, that qualify different levels of cyborg at which technology influences an individual. This may range from technological instruments being external, temporary, and removable to being fully integrated and permanent.[85] Nonetheless, cyborg artists are artists. Being so, it can be expected for them to incorporate the cyborg idea rather than a strict, technical representation of the term,[86] seeing how their work will sometimes revolve around other purposes outside of cyborgism.[83]

As medical technology becomes more advanced, some techniques and innovations are adopted by the body modification community. While not yet cyborgs in the strict definition of Manfred Clynes and Nathan Kline, technological developments like implantable silicon silk electronics,[87] augmented reality[88] and QR codes[89] are bridging the disconnect between technology and the body. Hypothetical technologies such as digital tattoo interfaces[90][91] would blend body modification aesthetics with interactivity and functionality, bringing a transhumanist way of life into present day reality.

In addition, it is quite plausible for anxiety expression to manifest. Individuals may experience pre-implantation feelings of fear and nervousness. To this end, individuals may also embody feelings of uneasiness, particularly in a socialized setting, due to their post-operative, technologically augmented bodies, and mutual unfamiliarity with the mechanical insertion. Anxieties may be linked to notions of otherness or a cyborged identity.[92]

Cyborgs have become a well-known part of science fiction literature and other media. Although many of these characters may be technically androids, they are often referred to as cyborgs. Well-known examples from film and television include RoboCop, The Terminator, Evangelion, United States Air Force Colonel Steve Austin in both Cyborg and, as acted out by Lee Majors, The Six Million Dollar Man, Replicants from Blade Runner, Daleks and Cybermen from Doctor Who, the Borg from Star Trek, Darth Vader and General Grievous from Star Wars, Inspector Gadget, and Cylons from the 2004 Battlestar Galactica series. From comics, manga and anime are characters such as 8 Man (the inspiration for RoboCop), Kamen Rider, Ghost in the Shell’s Motoko Kusanagi, as well as characters from western comic books like Tony Stark (after his Extremis and Bleeding Edge armor) and Victor “Cyborg” Stone. The Deus Ex videogame series deals extensively with the near-future rise of cyborgs and their corporate ownership, as does the Syndicate series. William Gibson’s Neuromancer features one of the first female cyborgs, a “Razorgirl” named Molly Millions, who has extensive cybernetic modifications and is one of the most prolific cyberpunk characters in the science fiction canon.[93] The cyborg was also a central part of singer Janelle Mone’s 48-minute video corresponding with the release of her 2018 album “Dirty Computer.” This emotion picture intertwined the relationship between human and technology, highlighting the power of the digital on a futuristic, dystopian society. Mone has previously referred to herself as an android, depicting herself as a mechanical organism often conforming to idealistic standards, thus using the cyborg as a way to detach from these oppressive structures.

Sending humans to space is a dangerous task in which the implementation of various cyborg technologies could be used in the future for risk mitigation.[94] Stephen Hawking, a renowned physicist, stated “Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster such as sudden global warming, nuclear war… I think the human race has no future if it doesn’t go into space.” The difficulties associated with space travel could mean it might be centuries before humans ever become a multi-planet species.[citation needed] There are many effect of spaceflight on the human body. One major issue of space exploration is the biological need for oxygen. If this necessity was taken out of the equation, space exploration would be revolutionized. A theory proposed by Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline is aimed at tackling this problem. The two scientists theorized that the use of an inverse fuel cell that is “capable of reducing CO2 to its components with removal of the carbon and re-circulation of the oxygen…”[95] could make breathing unnecessary. Another prominent issue is radiation exposure. Yearly, the average human on earth is exposed to approximately 0.30 rem of radiation, while an astronaut aboard the International Space Station for 90 days is exposed to 9 rem.[96] To tackle the issue, Clynes and Kline theorized a cyborg containing a sensor that would detect radiation levels and a Rose osmotic pump “which would automatically inject protective pharmaceuticals in appropriate doses.” Experiments injecting these protective pharmaceuticals into monkeys have shown positive results in increasing radiation resistance.[95]

Although the effects of spaceflight on our body is an important issue, the advancement of propulsion technology is just as important. With our current technology, it would take us about 260 days to get to Mars.[97] A study backed by NASA proposes an interesting way to tackle this issue through deep sleep, or torpor. With this technique, it would “reduce astronauts’ metabolic functions with existing medical procedures”.[98] So far experiments have only resulted in patients being in torpor state for one week. Advancements to allow for longer states of deep sleep would lower the cost of the trip to mars as a result of reduced astronaut resource consumption.

Theorists such as Andy Clark suggest that interactions between humans and technology result in the creation of a cyborg system. In this model “cyborg” is defined as a part biological, part mechanical system which results in the augmentation of the biological component and the creation of a more complex whole. Clark argues that this broadened definition is necessary to an understanding of human cognition. He suggests that any tool which is used to offload part of a cognitive process may be considered the mechanical component of a cyborg system. Examples of this human and technology cyborg system can be very low tech and simplistic, such as using a calculator to perform basic mathematical operations or pen and paper to make notes, or as high tech as using a personal computer or phone. According to Clark, these interactions between a person and a form of technology integrate that technology into the cognitive process in a way which is analogous to the way that a technology which would fit the traditional concept a cyborg augmentation becomes integrated with its biological host. Because all humans in some way use technology to augment their cognitive processes, Clark comes to the conclusion that we are “natural-born cyborgs”.[99]

In 2010, the Cyborg Foundation became the world’s first international organization dedicated to help humans become cyborgs.[100] The foundation was created by cyborg Neil Harbisson and Moon Ribas as a response to the growing number of letters and emails received from people around the world interested in becoming a cyborg.[101] The foundation’s main aims are to extend human senses and abilities by creating and applying cybernetic extensions to the body,[102] to promote the use of cybernetics in cultural events and to defend cyborg rights.[103] In 2010, the foundation, based in Matar (Barcelona), was the overall winner of the Cre@tic Awards, organized by Tecnocampus Matar.[104]

In 2012, Spanish film director Rafel Duran Torrent, created a short film about the Cyborg Foundation. In 2013, the film won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival’s Focus Forward Filmmakers Competition and was awarded with $100,000 USD.[105]

Given the technical scope of current and future implantable sensory/telemetric devices, these devices will be greatly proliferated, and will have connections to commercial, medical, and governmental networks. For example, in the medical sector, patients will be able to login to their home computer, and thus visit virtual doctors offices, medical databases, and receive medical prognoses from the comfort of their own home from the data collected through their implanted telemetric devices.[106] However, this online network presents huge security concerns because it has been proven by several U.S. universities that hackers could get onto these networks and shut down peoples electronic prosthetics.[106] These sorts of technologies are already present in the U.S. workforce as a firm in River Falls, Wisconsin called Three Square Market partnered with a Swedish firm called Biohacks Technology to implant RFID microchips in the hands of its employees (which are about the size of a grain of rice) that allow employees to access offices, computers, and even vending machines. More than 50 of the firms 85 employees were chipped. It was confirmed that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved of these implantations.[107] If these devices are to be proliferated within society, then the question that begs to be answered is what regulatory agency will oversee the operations, monitoring, and security of these devices? According to this case study of Three Square Market, it seems that the FDA is assuming the role in regulating and monitoring these devices.

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