Source: Singularity Hub, CBS News (60 Minutes)

Woman with robot arm

Jan Scheuermann went from Wheel Of Fortune to a wheelchair, to being able to control a robot arm.

‘Breakthrough’ they say. 60 Minutes’s Scott Pelley used the term to describe the thought-controlled robot arm, though I suspect he may not have seen such machinery before. But given how this arm is controlled, “breakthrough” might be the appropriate term.

Jan Scheuermann appeared on Wheel Of Fortune in 1995. A year after her appearance, she was diagnosed with a hereditary condition called spinocerebellar degeneration (ataxia), which causes parts of her brain and spinal column to degenerate, leaving her a quadriplegic. Researchers at University of Pittsburgh’s Pitt School of Medicine attached two electrode arrays to her brain near the areas used for arm movement, and in a year she was able to use the arm as well as a normal person.

 

Four years in the making. The arm is the result of a Defense Department project called “Revolutionizing Prosthetics,” a project looking at making a new generation of prosthetic limbs that restore normal functions for soldiers who lost limbs in battle.

This old Associated Press video shows an early stage of the project where a monkey uses his mind to control a robot arm.

Sooner or later, this technology had to come to the average person, not just paraplegics but amputees as well.

In Jan’s case, having to connect the arm directly to her brain was necessary since her ataxia has ruined the connection(s) between her brain and limbs. For amputees, the connections are still intact so the connection can be made at the nerve endings.

 

Further refinements. Jan’s new arm is impressive, but still far from perfect. In the 60 Minutes video Jan has problems with grabbing objects she looks at. One possible solution is to use ‘touch’ sensors in the fingers to give feedback. Another possibility being considered is the use of Wi-Fi to eliminate the skull connectors.

Earlier this year, NIH’s NINDS division announced their BCI system called BrainGate. Link for further details.

Restoring arm and leg functions for amputees and paraplegics are only the beginning. They’re also looking at eyes (no pun intended), ears, and even artificial internal organs for for stroke and cerebral palsy victims, and even the elderly.

Once such artificial limbs and organs are ready for the general public, the only thing left to worry about is…

This post has been filed under Brain-Computer Interface, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

More preview than preview. I only planed a two-week vacation, but an infected (and eventually amputated) toe extended that to two unplanned months, expected to last to the end of the year. Now would be a good time to catch up on some stuff I’ve been planning on reviewing.

Starting off would be a movie so far into early development that it only exists as a script. User feat747 (aka Hashim Bannaga) written it for the Pulsar Sci-Fi Screenplay Contest and made it to the semi-finals. He’s looking for producers to bring the script to the screens. From I’ve read of the script, any willing producer will have something pretty good to work with.

 

The Story: In 2022, a highly-advanced A.I. named Avalon was created and begins learning at an incredible rate. Eventually, all companies and governments would relinquish control to Avalon. In 2053, Avalon creates a hacker program that launches a nuclear apocalypse that destroys ninety percent of humanity, and allows Avalon to take control of all electronics to become CyberNet.

It is now 2099, and Avalon has gathered survivors into the walled city of The Metropis Sector while building Elsia City and The Citadel for itself. The humans are given some of the basics (shelter, stipends, and a COM unit) and are allowed to regulate themselves. But some humans exist in the wastelands outside the city, raiding convoys for supplies.

 

Other cyberpunk stuff to look forward to: While the main story may sound like a Terminator rehash, there is a background story involving people being transferred into android bodies that makes for a major twist on human’s being. There’s also a bit of hacking, adventures in cyberspace, and other cyberpunk themes involved.

While it’s too early to rate (no visuals to check), it looks like The Citadel is off to a good start with its script. At last communication, feat747 was looking to bring it to life with the right producer(s). Let’s hope this comes out good, at least better than Snakes On A Plane.

This post has been filed under Upcoming Movies by Mr. Roboto.

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