Friday, December 06, 2013

Theodore Berger: Neuroengineering - The Future is Now

Working towards the aug...


Dan said...

Before we invent the aug, a spot of bio-engineering wouldn't come amiss. Humans are peculiar animals; unlike most mammals we cannot synthesise our own vitamin C. Indeed we cannot synthesise several relatively easily-made chemicals which we cannot do without. We also cannot drink hypertonic salt solutions and excrete the salt.

Bio-engineering a new organ, and putting it into the pubo-illiac space (where donor kidneys are normally put when kidney failure is treated with a donor organ) would solve a lot of these problems.

A bio-engineered chemical factory which produces the vitamins we cannot synthesise for ourselves, and which uses actively powered filtering to excrete excess salt, and which has the ability to function as an extra kidney would be a very, very useful human upgrade.

If we then develop a means of delivering it such as a bio-engineered organism which is injected under the skin, migrates through the body to the appropriate point and there develops into this new organ then we have a way of improving human health for the better for millions.

Neal Asher said...

Excellent idea and, of course, much like what was happening in Iain M Banks' Culture, though the chemicals the extra glands produced weren't exactly necessary.

Sandra Louise said...

The implications of something like this is staggering.

Much of who we are is based on our memories. So who do we become when false memories are implanted?

Can you turn a serial killer into a well adjusted member of society by replacing their memories?

Could you make soldiers more aggressive by giving them memories of how to fight and kill?

Can you bypass the years of education by implanting all the memories of the scholars directly into the brain?

Can you become a concert pianist by buying their skills off the internet?



Neal Asher said...

Heh, well, see my next books for much about that, Sandra...

orcinus said...

I disagree on the importance of bio engineering functions, that are already covered for elsewhere, into the human body.

Missing vitamins, essential and quasi-essential aminoacids can be ingested. Common foods, drinks etc. can be laced with it (hint: for the most part, they already are).

Insisting on making their synthesis auonomous is a bit like insisting on cars that lay their own roads (cars drive on roads and can endure short bumpy offroad rides fine, whereas making every car capable of laying its own road would be overcomplicating).

Excreting salt (which we actually do, just not directly and nowhere near significantly for what you probably intend) is, again, of dubious usability. It would only serve a purpose in colonisation of very specific environments. If you're aiming at solving the issue of the lack of potable water (e.g. sub-saharan regions), again, the benefits are very dubious, because there usually isn't a source of (otherwise drinkable) salt water there and the water that is available is tainted (biologically and chemically).

If you can transport the salt water to such places, you generally can transport potable water as well. And if you already have local water sources that aren't salt water, but need processing, why bother with salt water at all? Not to mention the fact you'd need a proper environment to do the implantation, which, without a source of clean water - you don't.

Finally, the whole idea of an "extra kidney" is a bit pointless, as just tweaking th existing kidneys' functions would suffice.