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MIT Prof Predicts the End of Disabilities In Next 50 Years 190

Posted by samzenpus
from the gentlemen-we-can-rebuild-him dept.
judgecorp writes "MIT professor Hugh Herr describes how technology can end disability in 50 years — with a big incentive from the need to support injured war veterans. A champion climber, Herr lost both legs below the knee, returned to climbing and designed improved climbing prostheses. From the article: 'Herr believes the work he is doing won’t just have humanitarian benefits. There’s money to be made too. And if there’s a market here, it means more people will receive help. Despite all the horrors and injustices the Iraq and Afghanistan wars spawned, they have helped make the biomechatronics industry a lot more viable. Back in 2007, Herr gave Garth Stewart, a 24-year-old Army veteran who lost his left leg below the knee during the conflict in Iraq, a bionic ankle. It used tendon-like springs and an electric motor to provide support for Stewart.'"
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MIT Prof Predicts the End of Disabilities In Next 50 Years

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  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Monday March 26, 2012 @11:44AM (#39474933)

    I predict that 50 years from now, we'll realize that all long-term predictions made in 2012 turned out to be wrong.

    As for the bionic limb prediction specifically, I've been hearing that my whole life. We always seem to be right on the edge of every amputee having bionic limbs. And yet decade after decade passes and, with the exception of a few prototypes here and there along the way, they all still seem to be wearing the same basic hooks and passive limbs that they've had forever (albeit much improved and lighter versions). Steve Austin, with his bionic limbs, is like a mirage that's always just up ahead--but never seems to actually get any closer.

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      Steve Austin, with his bionic limbs, is like a mirage that's always just up ahead--but never seems to actually get any closer.

      But of course! Don't you know that when you run in slow-motion, it looks like it's taking forever?

    • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Monday March 26, 2012 @11:51AM (#39475033)

      Apparently, despite all of the people who are injured in road accidents, left over land mines, general mishaps that befall the population etc, the key to moving technology forward is to have 30 or 40 000 soldiers injured.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2012 @11:56AM (#39475105)

        Yes and Motor Neurones, Spinabifida, MS and a whole load of other conditions aren't disabilities now.

        The MIT guy is talking about one small part of a massive group of conditions.

        Heres a cheaper and easier way to end disabilities from wars... Stop sending soldiers into war over other people's greed.

        • by AlienIntelligence (1184493) on Monday March 26, 2012 @01:34PM (#39476299)

          Yes and Motor Neurones, Spinabifida, MS and a whole load of other conditions aren't disabilities now.

          The MIT guy is talking about one small part of a massive group of conditions.

          I was thinking the same thing... what an asinine thing to say.
          And that's literally the way he said it too.

          Guy loses both of his legs... and he thinks that is the only
          type of 'disability' out there. He's obviously not the ego-free
          individual we want leading the march.

          Heres a cheaper and easier way to end disabilities from wars... Stop sending soldiers into war over other people's greed.

          While I agree with you intrinsically... you do realize, it's not
          that easy? Additionally, you do realize that a soldier is a
          soldier for a reason. To fight in wars. They do not join without
          the concept of death.

          I was going to go in as an EOD Specialist, cause I have some
          unresolved adrenaline issues and a poorly formed executive
          center in the brain... =) but... the thought and reality of being
          randomly shot, rather than blown up... poured cold water on
          that. I made a choice.

          Any soldier can, before becoming a GI. We are not under draft.

          As far as I know... there is no other cause of war, besides greed.

          So your statement then is, "Stop being greedy".

          Good luck with that.

          -AI

        • Yes and Motor Neurones, Spinabifida, MS and a whole load of other conditions aren't disabilities now.

          To be pedantic for the purposes of humor, the second and third are (not sure if you mean multiple sclerosis or microsoft) but motor neurons are in fact not a disability. Motor neuron DISEASES can be, but healthy motor neurons are definitely not.

      • by DarenN (411219)

        Well, yes. And if you think about it you can see why.

        A large number of people in their prime productive years get mutilated in a short space of time. And these people work for an organisation that has the resources to spend on looking for a solution. I read recently that 1 in 5 single amputees can return to active duty, and those numbers will rise as solutions get better.

      • by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Monday March 26, 2012 @12:23PM (#39475445)

        Perhaps the key is to have 30 or 40 000 amputees with a health-care plan that isn't dedicated to maximizing profits.

        /ducks and runs

        • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Monday March 26, 2012 @12:47PM (#39475705)

          No, that wouldn't do it, because the civilized world have health plans not dedicated to maximizing profits and we don't have some magical solutions either.

          It's all politics, the US especially but others generally are willing to invest a huge amount into R&D for soldiers who get injured, but many thousands more people who suffer similar problems every year seem to not get the same priorities.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        General mishaps and accidents are scattered, "unfortunate events". The public sees a disabled soldier as someone that lost their arms or legs as someone that sacrificed their own body in defense of our nation... for better and worse.

        That many active, healthy, celebrated men and women in their prime, all pouring in over a short period of time, missing limbs... that's hard to ignore. Doubly so since there are already organized, well-funded efforts to both raise awareness and care for veterans after service.

      • by ace37 (2302468) on Monday March 26, 2012 @01:35PM (#39476305) Homepage

        Apparently, despite all of the people who are injured in road accidents, left over land mines, general mishaps that befall the population etc, the key to moving technology forward is to have 30 or 40 000 soldiers injured.

        Compare that to workers comp and lawsuits from 30k-40k injuries at work in US private industry.

        This has a much lower cost to the military and has a great external benefit to society. I don't think these soldiers are making out like bandits here, and I'm glad we'll have the technology for those few injured in road accidents and general mishaps.

        Land mines aren't common on US soil, and it will take decades of improvement before these types of technologies can be extended to the many countries with those problems. And perhaps they need it the most; I don't know. But it must happen first somewhere, and this type of technology won't be developed by an impoverished nation that lacks advanced engineering skills.

    • by Qzukk (229616) on Monday March 26, 2012 @11:58AM (#39475147) Journal

      they all still seem to be wearing the same basic hooks and passive limbs that they've had forever

      That's what their insurance covers.

      • If they wanted active limbs they'd pull themselves up by their remaining bootstrap.
      • by glop (181086) on Monday March 26, 2012 @12:26PM (#39475475)

        Actually, Wired has an article on this this month. And it turns out the classic hooks is still better in some respects and are preferred for some occasions where strength, speed and feedback are best.
        I suppose when you are outside your home (i.e. where people can see you and gather anecdotal statistics as the ones we discuss), you might want the most reliable, fast and simple gear.
        So some of the people we see with old style gear might have more advanced prostheses at home or at work for tasks that benefit from them.

        • by AlienIntelligence (1184493) on Monday March 26, 2012 @01:47PM (#39476475)

          you might want the most reliable, fast and simple gear.
          So some of the people we see with old style gear might have more
          advanced prostheses at home or at work for tasks that benefit from them.

          I was a manager for a graphic arts publication, my lead graphic artist,
          had an articulating hook in place of one forearm. Let me repeat... my
          LEAD artist. He was faster than everyone else and had the least amount
          of mistakes. Regardless of whether he pushed extra hard to be as good
          as anyone... he was. And he was not handicapped or disabled in any way.

          Here's to ya José! Thanks for all the copy.

          -AI

      • by jamstar7 (694492) on Monday March 26, 2012 @12:42PM (#39475651)

        they all still seem to be wearing the same basic hooks and passive limbs that they've had forever

        That's what their insurance covers.

        And therein lies the problem. Anything more expensive than the basics, and the insurance companies weasel about paying for it. Medical insurance companies are still for-profit companies, and any payments come off the bottom line. Even with the unnecessary 'bailout' that the so-called 'Obamacare' legislation jammed down our throats, healthcare in the US hasn't been determined by qualified medical professionals (i.e., 'doctors') in decades, it's been determined by beancounters. For some serious giggles, google up the profits of the health care insurance companies and see for yourself.

        • by Shotgun (30919)

          Why don't you invest your money in an insurance company that will invest your funds in paying for every amputee to have the top notch prosthetics and offers zero ROI. I hear those stocks do really well on the market.

          If you don't want your healthcare determined by beancounters, don't rely on beancounters to pay for your healthcare. Your asking a company to accept a small payment to cover a large risk, with a prescribed remedy for various conditions. Then you want to complain that the remedy provided shoul

          • by KhabaLox (1906148)

            Why don't you invest your money in an insurance company that will invest your funds in paying for every amputee to have the top notch prosthetics and offers zero ROI. I hear those stocks do really well on the market.

            Congratulations. You just identified why the medical services industry should not be solely profit motivated.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          For some serious giggles, google up the profits of the health care insurance companies and see for yourself.

          I work for a health care insurance company. There is no incentive to improve business process here; Millions are wasted due to systemic inefficiency. Medicare is an example of administration done right: They take something like $0.05 of every dollar to administer the program -- that is, all the approvals, rejections, communications, support infrastructure, and personnel to move the money from point A to point B and provide full auditing of it as well. There is no private-sector company that can begin to app

    • by ILongForDarkness (1134931) on Monday March 26, 2012 @12:05PM (#39475243)

      There is too many ways of getting disabled. Amputated limbs okay, but how much leg is left? If it is past the knee you might be okay but what if it is mid femur? What if it is neurological? Again how far up is the neurological problem? Are you a quadropeligic or is it just a local nerve in the leg? Do you have a degenerative neural disease so even your currently working nerves are weird? Too many variables I think an expanding portion of people will be candidates but I don't think we'll ever get everyone. I'm sorry sometimes the most reasonable thing to tell little Timmy is that he'll never walk again, and no really he'll never walk again. There isn't some miracle just around the corner etc. medicine tries too much to give hope to the hopeless it is becoming more of a religion every day. Same thing happens in cancer were I work.

      Oh cancer will be cured in 20 years, yeah we've been hearing that since cancer was discovered. There is too many ways that your cells can go bad. Too many regions of the body, too many where cancers are really close to the normal tissues etc. We'll cure some, we'll prevent some, but there will always be cancer of one form or another and we need it: mutations are necessary for evolution.

      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        No, we hear that cancer treatment will be improved so that what's lethal today will be treatable in 20 years. This prediction has so far been more or less true, we can treat cancers at more and more advanced stages successfully. Problem with cancer is its propensity to keep on coming back, so you can never truly "cure" it, merely remove the life-threatening tumour and monitor for new growths.

        Same thing with prosthetics. They are improving fast. 20 years ago Pistorius' success story would not have been possi

        • Exactly, we continue to expand the things that are fixable but there is always more. As people live longer they live long enough to have different problems. So today's #1 cancer gets cured only to have the population live another 5 years to die of some weird heart problem. We fix that and all of a sudden the #1 killer is skin cancer say, fix that then it becomes pneumonia. It is a game of wack a mole which by definition we'll never win since we all need to die.

    • by Baloroth (2370816) on Monday March 26, 2012 @12:09PM (#39475289)

      We always seem to be right on the edge of every amputee having bionic limbs.

      Have we? I mean, true bionic limbs require tactile feedback, which in turn requires some kind of biological-machine interface. We are getting closer to it, but I wouldn't say we are anywhere near being on the edge of that (even now). Without that kind of feedback, even a sophisticated robotic limb is pretty well worthless, since you won't be able to use it for all that much. Granted, for someone without a hand, even that limited use is an improvement. The real problem isn't creating a robot hand or limb: the problem is controlling it. Simple motions are possible: complex ones, such as moving individual fingers on it, are not, and until we get that, losing a limb will always be a major disability.

    • by mark-t (151149)
      Not all... but certainly many, if not most.

      Some long term predictions have turned out to reveal almost a spooky level of prescience.

      I seem to recall that almost ubiquitous cell phone usage was predicted over a hundred years ago (although not by that exact name... they talked about it in terms of radio).

      • by SomePgmr (2021234)

        I guess we're usually somewhere between prediction and self-fulfilling prophecy.

        When you sat at home watching Star Trek, were they predicting wireless tablets with then-impossible computational and display capabilities with access to absurd amounts of information, or were they giving us the motivation to make such things... and make them equally ubiquitous?

        I expect we're all agreed that tech always seems very, "of course", in retrospect. Just don't get me started on Verne. :)

      • Even a stopped clock is right twice a day; even a blind squirrel finds an acorn from time to time; etc. People make predictions all the time---the fact that some of them are correct should not be surprising. The fact remains that most probably aren't.
    • I have a long term prediction for you. No matter how good technology gets, there's one disability that is not going to get fixed:

      You can't fix stupid.

    • And yet decade after decade passes and the cost never drops, it just keeps going up, with the exception of a few prototypes here and there along the way, they all still seem to be wearing the same basic hooks and passive limbs that THEY CAN AFFORD (albeit much improved and lighter versions).

      ftfy

      -AI

    • Much improved versions? Of the fraction that use prosthetic arms, the majority use a design cooked up by the US military almost 60 years ago.

      There's too much market fragmentation - the powered prosthetic limbs available are basically all first-generation prototypes. We need to stop reinventing the wheel for these things before there can be any improvements

    • by Shotgun (30919)

      Steve Austin, with his bionic limbs, is like a mirage that's always just up ahead--but never seems to actually get any closer.

      Steve gets closer. It's the six million dollars that always stays out of reach.

    • by Firethorn (177587)

      Thing is, I believe that active limbs have moved past the 'prototype' stage. Now, because everybody's limbs are different, they're still mostly hand crafted/designed, but this isn't going to change for a while as the market remains too small and too varied for standard sizings to work well.

      Still, I don't think we're going to be able to even come close to eliminating disabilities in 50 years. I've heard that there has been a substantial reduction - safer equipment, better medical care saves limbs, sight, a

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday March 26, 2012 @11:47AM (#39474979) Homepage Journal

    I don't see any indication that spinal cord or brain injuries or birth defects will be gone in fifty years.

    • by Kenja (541830)
      Its not that they'll be gone, but that they will result in our cyborg overlords when we swap out the defective parts.
      • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday March 26, 2012 @11:57AM (#39475117) Homepage Journal

        I already have a defective part swapped out. I got a steroid-induced cataract in my left eye, and its lens was replaced with a CrystaLens, which sits on struts and can actually focus. After wearing thick glasses all my life I now need no corrective lenses at all, not even reading glasses -- and I'm 60.

        You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile? You'll BEG to be assimilated.

        • by ILongForDarkness (1134931) on Monday March 26, 2012 @12:06PM (#39475261)

          As long as 7 of 9 is doing the assimilating count me in.

        • by SomePgmr (2021234)

          That's pretty awesome.

          I've often wondered when prosthesis will be good enough that we'll prefer them over our natural, otherwise functional parts. I guess it's just a matter of time and effort.

        • by DdJ (10790)

          I got a steroid-induced cataract in my left eye, and its lens was replaced with a CrystaLens, which sits on struts and can actually focus. After wearing thick glasses all my life I now need no corrective lenses at all, not even reading glasses -- and I'm 60.

          I say as someone whose presbyopia is still just getting started: thank you for helping beta test this for me.

    • by vlm (69642) on Monday March 26, 2012 @11:54AM (#39475065)

      I don't see any indication that spinal cord or brain injuries or birth defects will be gone in fifty years.

      Lack of medical care for all but the 1% means they'll be dead, not disabled.

      There was a day when middle class people had houseservants, maids, etc. That sounds kinda laughable today. In the future thats how they'll look back on pensions, social security, medical care for all but the 1%...

      • by niado (1650369)
        Well, we've only really had legitimate 'medical care' available for the last 100 years or so. There are large areas of the world still without good medical care, but those areas are shrinking rapidly.

        In the US (and assumedly other rich nations) practically 100% of the population has access to very good emergency medical care, though poor decisions are still often made. Effective care for some especially rough conditions (HIV etc.) and 'quality of life' improvements are often cost prohibitive for most o
      • Now the middle class has robot maids or contraptions to make housekeeping easy, computers and devices that do much of the work of houseservants, etc. And a much bigger house than they use to have, but now they spend so little time in it that it doesn't get very dirty so a maid would be pointless. They spend most of their money on their appearance to others outside the house (in the form of expensive clothes, expensive cars, etc. etc.) rather than focusing on happiness inside the house. The middle class cou
    • by canajin56 (660655)
      He said the effects of most disability would be mitigated by the end of the century, but that a lot of that work would be done in the next 50. Besides which he's clearly talking about physical disability, not brain damage. He's not suggesting that in 2060 there will be fully working bionic brains, just that the bionic limbs, that are already quite good, are going to be very good by then. He has two below knee amputations, and his bionics let him run and climb and dance. He says he's not disabled anymore
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      birth defects

      The category known as "birth defects" will expand greatly over the next fifty years. The technology (and societal willingness) to enable the survival of previously-unviable fetuses and sustain life will continue to outpace the technology to solve the much more difficult issue of curing/correcting the issue.

      If you think you've seen some weird allergies lately, you have no idea what's coming in fifty years. Get ready for headlines like: "Doctors miraculously save baby that couldn't breathe"...a

    • I don't see any indication that spinal cord or brain injuries or birth defects will be gone in fifty years.

      I'm sure MIT has an academic advocacy group for students with disabilities (most North American universities do) and I'm sure that these kinds of articles leave desk marks on their executive foreheads. Whether or not they have stodgy dinosaur professors who actually believe disabilities are simply physical limitations, the perception that they are is a constant struggle internally and externally.

  • Anyone here ever read "The Forever War" by Joe Haldeman? I think the ability to regrow limbs is a longtime coming, if ever...certainly longer than 50 years. Without that, I don't think we can do away with disabilities. Sure, prosthesis potentially can improve quality of life but its not the same as having a real limb.
    • by canajin56 (660655)
      If you RTFA, he says he can climb and run and dance, so he doesn't consider himself disabled. He does make the distinction between "cured" and "not disabled". And also, he said 90 years, with most of the work being done within 50. Besides which, they are making impressive strides regrowing limbs using biodegradable plastic substrates and patent-extracted stem cells, and 90 years is a long time for modern science.
  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Monday March 26, 2012 @11:53AM (#39475055)

    Does this mean there will be more parking spaces open close to the stores? Walmart seems to be the only place that ever fills them all up anyway.

  • Hmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday March 26, 2012 @11:54AM (#39475061) Journal
    I'm inclined to wonder whether the roboticists will manage to crack their problem before team "you grew the leg once, now grow it again" manages to get their pet stem cells from turning into hideous doom cancer all the time...

    I'm also inclined to wonder what the outcome will be if we manage to crack the (highly complex; but comparatively simple) mechanical problem of replacing the function of limbs; but still have a load of people running around with neural problems, whether inborn or caused by concussive damage and the like. Robotics is hard; but it appears to be very nearly a toy problem compared to neurology.
    • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MozeeToby (1163751) on Monday March 26, 2012 @12:29PM (#39475515)

      I'm inclined to wonder what people will do given the choice between a truly advanced robotic prosthesis and regrowing a limb.

      "Well Mr Johnson, we can fit you with a robotic hand with full tactile feedback via a 2 way neural link, wireless charging (though a mat that we put under your mattress), and have you back to 90% functional with a couple weeks training and therapy and greater than before your accident long term. Of course, as technology improves we can upgrade your arm accordingly. We even offer a "utility" mode with greater than human strength, durability, and dexterity, though for safety reasons this is disabled through limiters during normal use.

      Or, we can give you a series of treatments to regrow you arm. It'll be a long, and probably painful process as the bones and muscles regrow. You'll need months, if not years of physical therapy to tone the muscles and strengthen the joints. But in the end, you'll have an arm that is actually "you" in every way, right down to the genetic level (minus a few tweaks we made to make the arm grow in faster).

      The choice is yours."

      • by Shotgun (30919)

        The determining factor will probably be the weight of the battery pack. Until we develop something with the utility of ATP, specifically the on the fly recharging provided by our digestive systems, bionics will always be playing catchup.

    • There is a guy who lost his finger to a model airplane. He regrew his finger through the use of a magical powder made from the intracellular membrane of pig bladders. (not kidding, I'll try to find TFA about it).
      -nB

      • http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-563099/The-amazing-pixie-dust-pigs-bladder-regrew-severed-finger-FOUR-weeks.html [dailymail.co.uk]
        http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,353636,00.html [foxnews.com]
        there we go, easier to find than I thought.
        Now, this guy only lost about 1/2 inch of his finger, but I wonder what would happen if bone was involved...
        Still speaks to your comment of "you grew the leg once...".
        -nB

        • You can lose everything up to the growth plate in the first joint and it will grow back. This guy just got as close as is physically possible to that boundary, unless the miracle powder can regrown joints and whole bones, I won't be holding my breath.

          • Nor would I, but I think we can all agree that this is a hell of a first step.
            possibly this used to regrow up to the joint, then something else to recreate/stimulate the joint, then back to this to continue growing?
            I am no limb regrowth expert, but the fact that some animals can regrow limbs makes me think that this should ultimately be possible to reproduce in humans.
            -nB

            • You're not understanding. 1/2 of an inch off the longest finger of an adult male is right at the limit of what the human body will regrow, his recovery was not unusual in any way and almost certainly would have happened with or without the magic powder. He lost his finger just millimeters away from the growth plate, but in such a way that the growth plate wasn't damaged. So long as the growth plate is intact, the finger tip will regrow normally.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... and to say that all disabilities will be solved by tech in the next 50 years seems to be an overly broad statement. We may be able to eliminate physical disability due to lost or missing limbs within 50 years, and possibly even many spinal core injuries, but there are many other forms of disability, especially traumatic brain injury and disabilities due to genetic anomalies that are still not well understood, and likely will never have a "cure". In many of the genetic cases, even if diagnosed in utero

  • So long as people insist on being paid for the care they administer (including building expensive prosthetic), there will be no such thing as "the end of disabilities". Especially mental disabilities. There is already a treatment available for a great many conditions today: A full time aide, it's just that few people can afford such an extravagance.
    • Yeah, this was my first thought. The cost of research and development, along with all the man hours which go into these kinds of products, is staggering. In 50 years, when it becomes commonplace, though, it will still not become free.

      • So, let's start complaining about this after unemployment is below 2%.

        • by Shotgun (30919)

          So, let's start complaining about this after unemployment is below 2%.

          ...and people are willing to leave the unemployment rolls for personal servant wages.

  • Send drones (Score:4, Insightful)

    by captainpanic (1173915) on Monday March 26, 2012 @11:56AM (#39475101)

    If you can make robotic legs, arms, eyes, hands, etc., why not put all that together and send the drones to do the fighting? Then you have no more veterans to fix up when they come back missing a limb.

    • Even better lets get rid of the fighting entirely and give people robotic bodies that want them and go explore space. The human body is really not very well designed or built so it is time for upgrades. Evolution may have gotten us this far but I am all for going in another direction.

    • by jamstar7 (694492)
      Because people are still a helluva lot cheaper than drones, that's why. A completely mechanised military would cost a helluva lot more than what we in the US have now. And yeah, all those high tech toys are cool, but people did without them for millenia. You want to hold a piece of ground, a person dug in with an AK-47 can do that nicely.
  • by blackicye (760472) on Monday March 26, 2012 @11:57AM (#39475127)

    From TFA:“But what if you were doing it for athletic purposes?” Doctorow responds. Herr says if the need is there, then why not? He has some controversial opinions. A future devoid of disability? Many would agree that’s an amazing prospect. But a future where people can upgrade themselves as if they were DIY machines themselves? Is that something people want?"

    Interesting, this guys seems pretty extreme but I'm of the opinion that if technology is starting to play such major roles in almost all sports why shouldn't cyborgs be allowed to compete in track and field?

    Sports is all about "cheating" or if you prefer gaining the upper hand with technology anyway these days (Golf, Swimming, Archery, Sports Medicine etc.)

    • Interesting, this guys seems pretty extreme but I'm of the opinion that if technology is starting to play such major roles in almost all sports why shouldn't cyborgs be allowed to compete in track and field?

      Spring-foot prosthetics are a clear unfair advantage in long distance running, they need their own league to compete in, otherwise truly competitive athletes would have to cut their feet off to have a chance of winning.

      • by Shotgun (30919)

        Or they could wear spring-foot shoes. Then the "footed" athlete would again have the advantage of longer legs.

        Currently, humanity is completely schizoid over athletic "supplements". Friggin' Congressional hearings in the US over steroid use, when everyone with a brain knows that if you ain't gettin' in the big leagues without a few 'roids. Then there are the body builders who actually claim with a straight face that they aren't on the needle, while a quick glance at picture of Ferango and Schartzenager (

  • From the summary:

    There’s money to be made too. And if there’s a market here, it means more people will receive help.

    Which would be better worded as

    Unless there’s money to be made, and unless there’s a market here, it means no people will receive help.

    Thus is the reason I feel capitalism (in its current form) has outlived its usefulness: Societal advancement now takes a back seat to making money, and I for one refuse to believe that making the world a better place for all should take a back seat to the unfettered greed of a few.

    • by Shotgun (30919)

      Then commit your life to living for the prosperity of others. It's not that hard to make such a decision, really. People have done it throughout the ages.

      A even better way of saying it is, "Societal advancement now takes a back seat to earning resources" for that is all that money represents. If you object to exerting yourself for the betterment of your condition, but are only for the condition of others, then don't. But, you can quit with the "unfettered greed of a few" mantra. It's just haughty bulls

  • ... of disability. Pretty soon, having an all-natural, non-augmented body WILL be a disability.

  • I think the definition he is using it too narrow -- and quite likely egocentric. How will his prostheses assist people with Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, CADASIL, and other neurological conditions which tend to be disabling?
  • First, there are spinal cord injuries. Sure, you can make a bionic part that can do the physical labor of the part you're swapping out, but what about sensations? Are you going to be able to feel hot, cold, wet, dry, slimy, soft, etc.?

    Second, there are a whole raft of disabilities you can't just swap a part out for. What about the mentally disabled? What about mental illnesses like schizophrenia? What about traumatic brain injuryy? (Surely we won't be able to swap out an entire brain in 50 years, a
  • This is the one breakthrough that will allow 99% of all physical disabilities to be resolved in a clear cut consistent mannner.

    Born with a sever geentic defect that mangles your lims? Prosthetic Body.

    Get burned horribly in a fire and lower half of your body burned to a crisp? Prostetic Body.

    All you have to do is keep a brain alive and functional inside of either a lab grown "genetically engineered, universal donor" biologicial body or a "purely mechanical body supported by nanomachines" or a combination

    • Once this breakthrough is perfected, the quality of life for humanity will go up immensely.

      FTFY, the best prosthetic of any kind today still sucks horribly compared to actual, grown along with your brain, body parts.

  • 50 to 90 years until the technology is available.

    But in the US you won't get the technology unless you are uber rich or have a killer health-insurance plan.

    • by Shotgun (30919)

      And in Europe, you won't get it unless the bureaucrats think you deserve it.

      Expensive things requiring lots of human resources to create can never be had by all. We can distribute goods according to who has earned the resources to exchange for the them, or we can distribute goods according to the whims of a bureaucracy.

  • by mark-t (151149)

    There's money to be made too. And if there's a market here, it means more people with plenty of disposable income will receive help

    FTFY

  • 50 years is far enough that you can predict confidently that anything will be available then, because by that time noone will remember it anyway.

  • I have always been able to hear frequencies that 99% of my same-aged peers cannot... does that make them all disabled (partially deaf)?

    My color perception is somewhat less sensitive than my wife's, does that make me disabled (partially color blind)?

    My grandmother's short term memory is operating at about 10% of its former capacity, is she disabled?

    I injured my ACL in high-school and never had it repaired, I can't play basketball at a competitive level, am I disabled?

    In bicycling, I can out hill-climb 90% of

    • Are you one of those people who believes that shades of grey make the extremely obvious black-and-white cases not exist?

      You get both legs and arms blown off by a landmine. Does that make you disabled?

      Yes. It most certainly does.

      • No, but "curing all disability" is a pretty sweeping generalization that ignores the shades of grey that exist.

  • technology can end disability in 50 years

    "technology can end disability, for those who can afford it, in 50 years"
    There, fixed that.

  • Oh, you mean like we could already feed, clothe and shelter every single being on this planet.... we just don't.

    Don't you think that "profit" and "keeping people in line" will have ceased to exist in 50 years? Why professor, that's just fucking stupid, and what you get paid for -- to overlook these crucial details and derp around. SSDD.

  • You can't fix crazy. With meds, you can beat it into a silent droolfest, until the person is worthless, but it will never be gone.
  • the key to truly bionic prosthetics is sustainable nuclear fusion, so 50 years is about right.
  • which could be seen as a sort of disability. Anything for that one? How's that virtualization of the human brain coming?

  • Today, something like 300 children die every hour due to malnutrition. Feeding the world's current population is well within our technical abilities, but the rich sections of the world (I'd guess that's most people on this website) are in general only prepared to make very minor sacrifices to help the poorer sections of the world.

    By the year 2060 the world population will have probably more than doubled. I find it unlikely we'll even have worked out how to feed everyone by then, let alone cure them of thei

  • by yodleboy (982200) on Monday March 26, 2012 @02:22PM (#39476877)
    Read on for a less rose tinted view of the state of prosthetic art and the challenges that are holding it back A True Bionic Limb Remains Far Out Of Reach [wired.com]. Interesting stuff.

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"

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