The What If Machine - Cyborgs

This week Cam investigates cyborgs. Just how close are the biomechanical beings of video games to the science of real life?

Join the conversation on Twitter at #whatifmachine.

Cyborgs are totally in right now--Deus Ex: Human Revolution kicked it off last year, then the Syndicate reboot followed suit, and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is on the horizon. This is the perfect opportunity then to investigate how close the cyborgs of video game land compare to cutting-edge science. So, if you've grown tired of your silly fleshy body and want to know how soon you can apply for Adam Jensen-style augmentations, check out the video above.

Want to share your thoughts on this episode? Prod me directly via Twitter @camfrazrob or make your mark in the comments. Don't forget to suggest topics for future episodes as well--we're always looking for new ideas to feed the ever-hungry What If Machine.

If you enjoy the show, then don't forget to visit the YouTube show page and subscribe! You need never miss your weekly dose of science-meets-video-games goodness.

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Discussion

281 comments
dorjebodh
dorjebodh

i am waiting for cyborgs and augmentations, then maybe we wont need food for energy anymore, we could survive the way plants do, by using sunlight to charge ourselves.

any part we damage could be easily replaced easily. i am not talking making us extremely strong or fast but we could us addons to do heavy lifting, or if we wanted go from one place to another. and as far as hacking goes its not possible unless a connection is made with the system either wireless or wired, that is like if the device does not transmit data wirelessly then it cannot be hacked wirelessly.. for example you cannot hack your washing machine wirelessly or do anything wirelessly to it. so you are safe.

Missusu
Missusu

LOL NO.

Cyborgs are kinda of a bad thing I think... It's great for that people who really need it... But what if you augment yourself so much that you can be hacked by a computer or something?

RealGhost-
RealGhost-

 @hazardousracerx yes I agree but no that would not be a zombie. a zombie is a flesh eating reanimated corpse that can only be killed by damaging the brain, which takes away the credbility of nearly all Resident Evil Games as a zombie game on a side note...but what you are describing could be possible, but no it would not be a zombie unless it had the hunger for flesh could bite others and transform them in to zombies and can only be killed through brain damage...unless u are telling me 60+ years of what a classic zombie is, is wrong...although i'm not sure if the biting and the person being bitten transforming into a zombie started with the genre; might have came later so check me up on that 

ilantis
ilantis

Just make cyborg women already, everything else can wait.

RealGhost-
RealGhost-

 @DanGleeSack No matter how much science you try and throw at it there will never be walking dead people who can only die by shooting them in the head and have a hunger for brains. u can do all the genetic manipulation u want it just won't happen period! Bathsalts and PCP are drugs that alter your brain chemistry, people can naturally canibialize on their own without drugs or viruses. zombies are not real they will never be real so u can prepare for the zombie apocolaypse with your internet pals all u want but it aint gonna happen bud...

MrNWatson
MrNWatson

I cannot articulate how incredible it would be to be able to see a magnetic field.

Sndewey
Sndewey

I think that if prostedic limbs make it to that kind of stage then i surly hope we would be making cyborg technolgies for people on life suport. Also if a person breaks his/hers arm and technologys alows movent while healing the fracture it self becomes possible it would be for the better good.

GameNow79
GameNow79

A very interesting bit of feature reporting. Having had a reconstructive knee surgery after dropping approx. 30 feet during a skiing outing (I was good, but not good enough to take that jump haha), I have a donor's ACL attached within my knee via a titanium pin. Since it's in the functional joint of my knee, I suppose I'm a cyborg LOL. All kidding aside, though, I'm still quite "real" but, on moral and ethical principles (and do not confuse that with religious beliefs -- religion plays no part in viewpoint) I am opposed to by-and-large cybernetic entities. Don't get me wrong, if medically necessary (loss of a limb, blindness, deafness, catastrophic organ failure, etc.), I find it extremely difficult to not support such implants or augmentations. However, should the augmentations ever allow us to be more than human, especially in regards to performance/function/intelligence??? I don't believe so, and I sincerely hope that that does not happen. Will it happen, though? Quite likely ... but not in my lifetime, as relatively young as I may be. And, I am fully aware that much of what I have written above is, in itself, a mishmash of contradictions. And, it's because of these inherent contradictions that the all questions regarding the ethics of such cybernetic enhancements and one’s own humanity, stems from. Just how much humanity can be lost before one is no longer truly human? The soul (oops, here we go ... religion, no matter what creed, has just crept into my diatribe) is lost at what point? Well, enough of the human ramblings from one who studied English literature and aspects of the human condition while he attended college. Oh yeah, by the way, I wear contact lenses.

 

Lei_11
Lei_11

Not sure about it becoming a possibility, but if visual upgrades and  improved arms or legs become possible, I would not be against upgrading myself for shits and giggles.

nyran125
nyran125

leave it in the world of fiction thx. i dont need cyborgs running around wanting to steal my shoes and cyborg gangs,

ALSONIC24
ALSONIC24

I have hearing aids (a Cochlear™ Baha® hearing aid), I was born with having to wear hearing aids, I can only hear through bone conductive hearing... I guess thats in some relation to this... augmentation cyborg stuff. Baha implant: http://www.umm.edu/otolaryngology/baha.htm

bloody_roar_fan
bloody_roar_fan

OH, and Cameron, can you please tell me what tshirt your wearing?

Its really cool and I want one for my self if you dont mine.

Venture_2001
Venture_2001

Cybernetics are nice, something I would support, but in the end they will become another cudgel.  It's scary stuff when there's already research on weaponizing the microwave...

Fayt1986
Fayt1986

thanks alot i asked for deus ex a couple weeks ago.

maybe a walking tank video next? mech assault / commander / steel battalion.

SolanOcard
SolanOcard

What's 37% more handsome than Hugh Jackman?

 

Any cybernetic implant that is an improvement over natural human ability makes the person a cyborg. if the implant is intended to mimic human ability without any significant improvement of normal function, they are human. If the brain is replaced by a computer, they are a robot, despite any organic components remaining, and even if memories and personality and transferred to the computer.

ferna1234
ferna1234

I had lots of trouble trying to understand what the oxford man said. Do I need a language augmentation?

vincent_tai
vincent_tai

Funny how religion and philosophy were the foundation of human civilisation for so long and now they seem to do little more than blocking the path of further development...  may be things really aren't meant to last forever, and that includes Socrates... and God.

Razer361
Razer361

I fail to see the advantages here. If we want to be super-humans of sorts, why can't we just have Iron-man-esque super-suits? If you want to be augmented, you would have to lose some of yourself to be replaced by high-tech machinery, and so you would lose that part of yourself forever. If you had a simple ability-enhancing suit, you could just slip into and out of it as necessary. the process of becoming a cyborg is too impractical and extreme to be beneficial, unless you have already lost a limb or have a defective body part, and want to have it replaced.

Razer361
Razer361

I have to wonder if we'll eventually be able to own prosthetic limbs with built-in weaponry. With the appropriate permits, of course.

phil_777
phil_777

A common opinion I've seen is that a mechanical body would be superior to our organic bodies. This is true in some respects as we might be stronger, faster or decay slower. But don't forget, evolution has developed the near perfect bodies for us in our environment. Although we have changed our environment drastically, we are still reasonably well suited to it.

Engineering is full of compromises, that is undeniable and the natural bodies we have are also compromises, the only possible difference is that our natural bodies are geared towards efficiency, while engineered machines have their own priorities (e.g you may sacrifice efficiency in favour of strength). But would that be better, living with a stronger body, but requiring more energy, either from food or a power plant?

I don't think there are any changes we could make that wouldn't be a significant drain on resources like all other modern inventions, so the only people that will ever become cyborgs will be the result of disability/necessity.

lpool8
lpool8

f**k Jenson i just wonna be robo-cop

virus10101
virus10101

i think that mechanical replacements are just what they are ... e mechanical way to restore body damages.

But what damages can those mechanical parts do ? 

 

I think that the only way to replace a damaged art is to clone a new 1, so you will have your arm/leg or whaterver, back just as before. Mechanicals have lots of problems that cloned stuff does not.

In addiction the human body have the potential to create a new totally functional missing part we just loose that "feature" after birth. The only think we must achieve is to restore that feature. And(based upon what i saw on some videos on the discovery channel)  it seems that now it is possible ! 

 

I think that is the time we consider machines as machines and to start thinking that we need to make better humans.

Better machines will just turn humans into machines themselves, we are humas we need to become better humans !

Giggling_Ghoul
Giggling_Ghoul

Hmmm I did not listen too much to the story of cyborg, but can't help noticing Cameron Robinson is so hot!

starduke
starduke

I'm not crippled, but I've had some accidents that left me with a messed up right leg and right arm. The leg's not to bad, but the arm hurts all the time and just doesn't work as well as it should. So, I'd seriously consider getting that arm replaced with a cybernetic arm, as long as it performed better then the original organic one. The problem I'd have is there's more to an arm then picking up things, there's also the sense of touch. If they made it so I could still feel, have the sensation of actually touching things, with the cybernetic arm, then it would definitely be better then my current one.

Sambob360
Sambob360

Where did you get your t-shirt? :)

 

angubaranar123
angubaranar123

Fantastic show as always!

 

 

I'm fine with everything, if it improves our lives. If you don't want an augmentation because it's not pleasing to see, then it's not an augmentation for you and you shouldn't implant it.But if someone is fine with having "camera eye", then he should go for it.

Ka113
Ka113

I augmented my eyes through a laser to take away the weakness I was born with. I was nearsighted. Now I am perfectsighted :)

Personally I'm really looking forward to the day when we reach even a fraction of what's in Deus Ex. Me and my workmates discussed this very topic a few days ago. We were talking about sportsmen taking drugs to enhance their ability and where the line was. I brought up the prospect of exchanging your limbs for stronger, faster and more durable parts. I don't know if there are any laws against it yet but it would be possible to cut off your legs and replace 'em with prostetics that make you faster. What is then the difference between taking drugs to enhance your abilities and replacing your limbs for the very same purpose?

It's an really exciting time we live in. If our race could get their heads on straight and stop "bickering" I don't see why we can't have colonized space (among other things) by the end of our generation :)

 

And how can you talk about cyborgs and not even mention Ghost in the Shell? Makes me a really sad panda :(

burrosalazar
burrosalazar

Hey guysss.... I am new to this site... I just want to know if there' a place on this site to download free pc games... 

rlacerdacf
rlacerdacf

Humanity has not developed any technique capable of regenerating a single nerve or cure many musculoskeletal disorders such as tendinitis. In the case of insanity of human beings the idea of ​​replacing healthy members for synthetic is more plausible than the technology to do this.

XX_DELTA_117_XX, the world is full of people with physical and mental disabilities can accomplish things that can shame the most healthy and "perfect" people. The only limit of the human body is having a lazy mind, closed and accommodated.

hazardousracerx
hazardousracerx

 @RealGhost- I agree with what you are saying about zombies not being possible in the sense that they are the "living dead" and hunger for brains.  That being said, it is entirely possible with today's science to re-animate (not bring to life, just make it move again) dead flesh using electricity.  It could be possible in the future to send controlled impulses through the musculature of a dead body and animate the corpse in that fashion.  If that were to happen, there could very possibly be dead walking being controlled by a processor of some sort or even being remotely controlled by a living person.  I think that could be classified as a zombie.

DanGleeSack
DanGleeSack

 @RealGhost- Again i never said that it will be like anything like "walking dead people who can only die by shooting them in the head and have a hunger for brains", I specifically said that it WONT be like that. I guess you do not understand the chemical processes or psychology behind what I am saying.

M_Robber
M_Robber

 @Razer361 The problem with exo-skeletons is that you still have a soft, squishy human inside it. A suit can handle very high g-forces, such as from moving at high speeds and coming to an abrupt stop, but the soft thing inside it, i.e. the human, doesn't handle that so well. A super-exo-skeleton user such as Tony Stark would in real life be turned to mush by the g-forces experienced by his body, even though the Iron Man suit itself could handle it. Therefore, if you want the 'super-human' thing, it's probably better to replace squishy flesh with nice, durable plastics and metal. Of course, you would also have to replace the brain, which I guess means that the person essentially becomes a complete machine.

Cruisemissile
Cruisemissile

 @Razer361 Its really up to the consumer what he or she wants to do with their body I myself wouldn't think twice about losing the crap I call my arms and legs, and if I could replace my heart with a Super Strong heart id jump at that! because no doubt it would let me live 3x longer than any other human without having to replace a limb or two, so I can look like me but live a lot longer.

DanGleeSack
DanGleeSack

 @Razer361 Exo-skeletons are also in development, but suffer from many of the same issues except possibly neural to mechanical connections. Genetic engineering and bio-chem are other options, but they all have limitations and issues as well.

DanGleeSack
DanGleeSack

 @virus10101 Cloning has many issues as well. The growth process is extremely specific and complex. We still are unaware of many pathways or chemical processes within our bodies, we don't even fully know how and when muscle grows to become stronger from exercise and age. There is also issues with DNA corruption or mutation, although they could possible be fixed with genetic engineering and drugs.

DanGleeSack
DanGleeSack

 @Ka113 The laser only corrects an issue while leaving your eye naturally intact. it is not a permanent augmentation or mechanical. Drugs can only do so much as well, as the interact differently person to person and can only work with what you have already. Steroids can give you huge muscles though increasing DNA and RNA transcription, but it takes time and still is limited by the number of muscles fibers you already have. Genetic engineering seems like the best option, but that really has to be done at birth. Using drugs, genetic engineering, and mechanics all together would probably yield the best results but there are huge issues with it all.

samanoskay
samanoskay

 @Ka113 i think with that professional runner that has prostetic legs bellow the knee there was a lot of descussion around it, i can see his point about wanting to run with "non disabled" runners, but at the same time, a non disabled runner would have to streathen there calve muscles and ankles and build up endurance in these areas, he simply straps on a springy leg that gives him optimal performance, sure the rest of him has to be in peak condition and i could never run like he dose, but there is always the debate of advantage and disadvantage, how many times would you see a runners ankle give out or trip right at the finish line? this wouldnt happen with his legs, as they are "invulnarable" to stress and fatigue. 

Razer361
Razer361

 @M_Robber I wasn't talking about the flying ability of his suit, but that is something that could happen pretty soon, too. But would you have to replace ALL of your skin, bones and internal organs? If you think about it, it would essentially be the same as building a robot from the ground up, and killing off the person who wanted to be augmented in the first place. That makes me think of something else. How far can you augment someone before you kill them and the computers inside their bodies take over and make it appear as if they were still alive? 

Razer361
Razer361

 @Cruisemissile  That living up to 3x longer is surely not gonna come without a hefty pricetag...

Razer361
Razer361

 @DanGleeSack sorry, were you asking a question, or making a statement? I was just implying that there would be legal issues about carrying built-in sub-machine guns, and back mounted micro-nukes.

Cruisemissile
Cruisemissile

 @Golgo33 Actually A super strong heart would not have to beat as often it would only have to beat at least 50 per min and it would last 3x longer hence living 3x longer.

Golgo33
Golgo33

 @Cruisemissile That Super Strong Heart will likely cause your super normal limbs and body to work extra hard causing them to wear more quickly requiring them to be replaced.

DanGleeSack
DanGleeSack

 @Razer361 yea i was just saying that connections, power, and/or money will bypass any legal issues. People will be able to get them anyways.