Friday, April 28, 2006

"The Depths of Badness": Cybernator (1991)

Bad Movie Knights: "REVIEW: Cybernator
This is a review by Patrick, and this is a site I must revisit (there would be no better place to find cyborg movies than here, I suspect):

"I now know what Columbus must have felt as he gazed upon the horizon.....and watched as it gave birth to the New World. On this day, I share a kinship with that revolutionary I too have made a discovery....a discovery of such magnitude that it will shake the very foundations of the Bad Movie world. The Bad Movie of which I speak.....Cybernator.

"Not since Troll 2 have I seen a bad movie of this order. If you were to take the Troll 2 dvd, squat and curl a steaming shit on it, and then place it into your player, you still wouldn't reach depths of badness that Cybernator represents."

Apparently in some dark futuristic city some US senators are being killed off by cyborgs, and there's a rogue cop with a Captain who doesn't like him...blah blah blah. Stripper love interest. Military conspiracy. Best Amazon review: "Cybernator ruined my marriage!"


(via BoingBoing): Aphrodite Project: Platforms: Safety

This is just a "new media" art project, but if it actually gets used it would be interesting:
"One of the main concerns of contemporary urban sex workers, even in areas where prostitution is legal, is violence. Each sandal will have an audible alarm system, which emits a piercing noise to scare off attackers. The shoes are also outfitted with a built in GPS receiver and an emergency button that relays both the prostitute's location and a silent alarm signal to public emergency services. Where there are problematic relations with law enforcement, i.e. most places, the shoes will relay the signal to sex workers' rights groups...

"The shoes will transmit their location via APRS (Automatic Position Reporting System) originally developed by Bob Bruninga, US Naval Academy Satellite Lab, in the late 1970s. APRS uses amateur radio to transmit position reports, weather reports, and messages between users. It is free and open to the public, and used by police officers, fire fighters, and other public service workers across the country to track their locations. Using APRS brings sex workers on par with other public workers, whose lives are valued highly because they work in dangerous professions that serve the needs of the community."

The Blueprint for a Post-Darwinian Transition to a Cruelty-Free World

Mission Statement of BLTC Research:
"BLTC RESEARCH was founded in 1995 to promote paradise-engineering. We are dedicated to an ambitious global technology project. BLTC seek [sic] to abolish the biological substrates of suffering. Not just in humans, but in all sentient life."

"...At present, life on earth is controlled by self-replicating DNA. Selfish genes ensure that pain and malaise are endemic to the living world.

"...Fortunately, the old Darwinian order - driven by blind natural selection acting on random genetic mutations - is destined to pass into evolutionary history.

"For third-millennium bioscience allows us to:
  • rewrite the vertebrate genome

  • redesign the global ecosystem

  • deliver genetically pre-programmed well-being

"In the new reproductive era ahead, biotechnology will make us smarter, happier and just possibly nicer. Post-Darwinian superminds can abolish 'physical' and 'mental' pain altogether."

From the faq: how can you help the cause? Build a website! (It's not hard!) If you're a student, read on:
"I'm a high-school student. What should I study to promote paradise-engineering?"
In the short-to-medium term, clinical psychopharmacology, molecular genetics and genomic medicine are useful disciplines. In the long run, the challenge of rewriting the vertebrate genome and redesigning the global ecosystem will take advances in quantum computing and nanotechnology. Studying philosophy, and in particular Ethics, can be valuable as well. Also, consider contributing to the Wikipedia."

Cyborgs rejoice!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Village Voice article on "Sousveillance"

village voice > news > The 21st-Century Peep Show by Kathryn Belgiorno
: Is sousveillance powerful activism or vigilantism? This article discusses the practice of online opprobrium ranging from the infamous Abu Graib photos that exposed military abuses, to the oh-so-sad story of Dog Poop Girl in Seoul, Korea.
"The power derived from witnessing, documenting—invading privacy even just a bit—is typically associated with the federal government, the NYPD, and big corporations, Carter points out. Holla Back, says Carter, demonstrates that 'you can fight the oppressive network of surveillance by documenting things yourself. . . . We all can walk around with cameras as opposed to cops or government having them in the city.'"

"There's a term in academia for the practice Carter describes—University of Toronto engineering professor Steve Mann coined it to mean the opposite of surveillance. 'Sousveillance' is looking from below, turning the lens on the higher-ups, altering the power dynamic. For techie futurist types like Mann, the camera phone is just one stop on a fast train to the cameras all citizens will eventually wear on their heads, eyeglass-style; The Transparent Society author David Brin calls these devices 'rodney kings.'"

"...One well-publicized example of citizen-on-citizen sousveillance—the event that inspired seven activists to create Holla Back—occurred when a Manhattan raw-food restaurateur was camera-phoned mid-masturbation on the subway last August by a woman who then posted the photo online. After the man was subsequently identified, one blogger wrote, 'It's also good to see the Big Brother phenomenon (cameras everywhere you look) working out in the average citizen's favor for once . . . . What do you mean they're useless?! They can solve crimes!!'"

Worth 1000: Borgged Art | Photoshop Contests

This is a beautiful one, but there are lots more:

Monday, April 24, 2006

Nano machine switches between biological and silicon worlds

IST Results - Nano machine switches between biological and silicon worlds:
The Mo-Switch Project has developed a system that could be used for molecular circuits, among many other possibilities. According to Dr Keith Firman, Reader in Molecular Biotechnology at Portsmouth University and coordinator of the Mol-Switch project, funded under the European Commission’s FET (Future and Emerging Technologies) initiative of the IST programme, "'It could be used as a communicator between the biological and silicon worlds. I could see it providing an interface between muscle and external devices, through its use of ATP, in human implants. Such an application is still 20 or 30 years away,' says Firman 'It's very exciting and right now we're applying for a patent for the basic concepts.'"

DARPA's $55M Wireless Bionic Arm - Wireless Bionic Arm Would Feel Real:

"Work on artificial arms that would be controlled by the human mind is ramping up thanks to a helping financial hand from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

DARPA announced in February that it would pour $55 million into a prosthetic arm research project to be led by Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory. The work will be spread among more than two dozen institutions.

Today, the University of Utah announced a $10 million contract, as part of the overall project, to develop a "peripheral nerve interface." The implanted device would relay nerve impulses wirelessly from what’s left of a limb to a computer worn on the person’s belt. From there, the signals would be routed to a bionic arm and back to the remainder of the amputated arm, where they would then flow naturally back to the brain.

Researchers at the university have already developed a pill-sized array with 100 tiny electrodes. Now they’ll seek to improve on the arrays so they can be implanted in up to four of the major nerves in a patient’s residual arm. Each electrode would communicate with a small number of fibers within a nerve.

"Imagine an artificial arm that moves naturally in response to your thoughts, that allows you to feel both the outside world and your own movements, and that is as strong and graceful as an intact, biological limb," said bioengineer Greg Clark, the University of Utah's principal investigator on the project. "That's what our researchers, teaming with others around the world, are setting out to achieve.”

Bionic leg, articicial muscles, urinary bladder prosthesis implant, chronic pain stimulation

Victhom: bionic leg, articicial muscles, urinary bladder prosthesis implant, chronic pain stimulation:

Most of the following bionics technologies are interesting, but the "bidirectional neurobionic system"--nerve sensing and stimulation application would create a true cyborg with artificial feedback systems directly influencing the nervous system: their advertising image shows the head as a circuit board.

Artificial Exo-Muscles
"Current actuation technologies have demonstrated several limitations in the biomedical field. The current actuators used to obtain large displacement are noisy, heavy and do not adequately reproduce muscle behavior. A need for new actuation technologies capable of reproducing muscle performance more accurately is crucial. Depending on their possible applications, artificial muscle technologies could be divided into two main categories: exomuscles and implantable muscles. The first category includes actuators that reproduce muscle functionality outside the body such as artificial limbs. The second category includes implantable devices that provide muscle functionality such as artificial sphincters or blood pressure pumps."

Bidirectional Neurobionic System
"Victhom has developed a solid neurosensing and neurostimulation expertise which will now serve the development of both open and closed-loop implantable control systems. More specifically, the Bidirectional Neurobionic System (BNS) is a platform under development that integrates peripheral nerve sensing and stimulation technologies with artificial intelligence in order to address physiological and anatomical dysfunctions.

This unique platform features real-time interaction with the peripheral nervous system. It has the ability to sense and modulate the sensory and motor nerve signals selectively. Based on a closed-loop architecture, commands are generated through a proprietary Artificial Intelligence (AI) subsystem that relies on a proven concept used for phenomenological signal interpretation within our BioTronix division. This innovative platform also benefits from the full integration of nerve sensing and stimulation in a single device.

Victhom is currently working on the development of specific modules required by such a system, such as user interface, two-way communication, power transmission, controller unit, signal conditioning and processing, sensors and mechanical hardware. Scientific and engineering activities are addressing the design of specific modules that will serve in both open and closed-loop applications. "

Bionic Leg
"Victhom motorized prosthesis is the first in the world to provide the necessary power to restore amputated lower limb function during defined portions of locomotion. The behavior of the prosthesis is determined through a combination of artificial proprioceptors resulting in the keyed sound side sensory control."

Urinary Implant
"Urge Incontinence affects 20 million people in the US while bladder dysfunctions caused by Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) affect 800,000 people worldwide, with 25,000 new cases each year.

Victhom’s Urinary Implant represents the next generation of « pacemaker for the bladder ». It intends to help people who suffer from urge incontinence or bladder dysfunction caused by spinal cord injury. "

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Solar-powered implant could restore vision

New Scientist Tech - Technology - Solar-powered implant could restore vision: " a solar-powered chip that stimulates retinal cells by spraying them with neurotransmitters could restore sight to blind people."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Video of Garnet Hertz's Cockroach as CPU

YouTube - Cockroach Controlled Mobile Robot: Video at YouTube:
"By Garnet Hertz (2005) 'Cockroach Controlled Mobile Robot' is an experimental mechanism that uses a living Madagascan hissing cockroach atop a modified trackball to control a three-wheeled robot. If the cockroach moves left, the robot moves left. Infrared sensors also provide navigation feedback to the cockroach, striving to create a pseudo-intelligent system with the cockroach as the CPU."

Danny Fortson: Cyborg Smasher

From "Supersonicsoul: The unofficial blog of the Seattle Supersonics": Danny Fortson: Cyborg Smasher!

Part 1; and the thrilling conclusion, Part 2.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Artilect War: Cosmists Vs. Terrans: Books The Artilect War: Cosmists Vs. Terrans: Books

Published in February 2005, this book by Hugh de Garis begins:
I'm the head of a research group which designs and builds "artificial brains," a field that I have largely pioneered. But I'm more than just a researcher and scientist--I'm also a social critic with a political and ethical conscience. I'm very worried that in the second half of our new century, the consequences of the kind of work that I do may have such a negative impact upon humanity that I truly fear for the future...

The truth is, I feel that I'm constructing something that my become rather godlike in future decades (although I probably won't live to see it). The prospect of building godlike creatures fills me with a sense of religious awe that goes to the very depth of my soul and motivates me powerfully to continue, despite the possible negative consequences.

I feel quite "schizophrenic" about this. On the one hand I really want to build these artificial brains and to make them as smart as they can be. I see this as a magnificent goal for humanity to pursue... On the other hand, I am terrified at how bleak are some of the scenarios that may ensue if brain building becomes "too successful, meaning that the artifical brains end up becoming a lot more intelligent than the biological brains we carry around in our skulls....

Let me be more specific. As a professional brain building researcher and former theoretical physicist, I feel I am in a position to see more clearly than most the potential of 21st century technologies to generate "massively intelligent" machines. By "massively intelligent" I mean the creation of artificial brains which may end up being smater than human brains by not just a factor of two or even ten times, but by a factor of trillions of trillions of trillions of times, i.e. truly godlike.

Cybugs: DARPA and Metamorphborg-bugs? - Cybugs: Military Mulls Army of Cyborg Insects: DARPA has issued a solicitation notice for Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (HI-MEMS):

"In their solicitation notice BAA06-22, DARPA explicitly rejects research which merely results in 'evolutionary improvement upon existing state-of-the-art.' They are looking for more innovative proposals, suggesting that it should be possible to integrate microsystems within insects during the early stages of metamorphoses. Specifically, DARPA believes that 'healing processes from one metamorphic stage to the next stage are expected to yield more reliable' implantation results. Hopefully, this will result in more sophisticated (and more reliable) bio-electromechanical interfaces, as opposed to those cheap 'adhesively-bonded systems' sometimes used on adult insects."

Here's a comment on Engadget.

Pentagon's New Weapon: Cyborg Spy Flies

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Pentagon's new weapon - cyborg flies that are spies:
"The Pentagon is trying to develop 'insect cyborgs' able to sniff out explosives, or 'bug' conversations by lurking unseen in enemy hideouts with micro-transmitters strapped to their bodies.The cyborgs - half insect, half robot - would be created by inserting tiny devices into the bodies of flying, hopping or crawling insects while in their larva or pupa stage, so that the mechanisms become part of their bodies and ultimately allow them to be moved by remote control."

Cyborg Biathlon on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Cyborg Biathlon on Flickr - Photo Sharing!: Some nice cyborg Photoshopping:

"Sometime in the future when biological enhancements became more and more popular, the rules for certain types of sports didn't fit too well anymore. Some people just exaggerated. This athlete actually got all five holes with one shot.

Done for a faceoff contest at Mechapixel. "

"Cyborg Cells Sense Humidity"

news@nature: You need to be a subscriber to read this article in Nature, but the gist of it is:
"living bacteria have been incorporated into an electronic circuit to produce a sensitive humidity gauge.The device unites microbe and machine, taking advantage of the properties of both to make for a supersensitive sensor. 'As far as we know, this is the first report of using microorganisms to make an electronic device,' says Ravi Saraf, a chemist from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, who developed the 'cellborg' with his student Vikas Berry".

Here's an accessible article in Live Science.

Remote-controlled fruit flies

ScienceDirect - Cell: Remote Control of Behavior through Genetically Targeted Photostimulation of Neurons: You gotta love this! How many contemporary science journals publish an article that cites a source from the 18th century? This article, published last April on remote-control of Drosophila melanogaster via lasers starts off by citing Galvani's famous De viribus electricitatis in motu musculari commentarius (Bologna: Typographia Instituti Scientiarium, 1791). Susana Q. Lima and Gero Miesenböck, from the Department of Cell Biology, Yale University School of Medicine write in Cell:
if ... the intended target cells are equipped with a “receiver” that allows them to decode a publicly broadcast stimulus, multiple targets might be addressed simultaneously and selectively... The capacity to control defined populations of neurons noninvasively would represent a significant step in moving neuroscience from passive observation—which neuronal activity patterns are correlated with a given behavior?—to active and predictive manipulation of behavior.

We report experiments in Drosophila that realize this scenario. Unfocused laser light played the part of the publicly broadcast stimulus; genetically encoded “phototriggers” of action potentials ... served as the cell type-specific receivers that transduced the optical signal into electrical activity. Brief pulses of laser light allowed us to activate genetically circumscribed groups of central neurons and control specific behaviors in flies moving freely within the optical field. ...genetically targeted photostimulation was used to investigate the role of dopaminergic neurons in the control of movement. We found that an acute increase in dopaminergic signaling alters the extent of locomotor activity and the walking patterns in which this activity is expressed.

Japanese engineers create cockroach cyborgs

Corrosioneering Newletter InterCorr International: At Tokyo University, a bio-robot research team has created remote-control cyborg cockroaches. Each cockroach has its wings and antennae removed, and is equipped with a microprocessor and pulse-emitting electrodes.
"'Insects can do many things that people can't, ' [Isao] Shimoyama,the head of the bio-robot research team at Tokyo University [explains]. 'The potential applications of this work for mankind could be immense.' Within a few years, Shimoyama says, electronically controlled insects carrying mini-cameras or other sensory devices could be used for a variety of sensitive missions - like crawling through earthquake rubble to search for victims, or slipping under doors on espionage surveillance."
These creepy cyborgs remind me of Garnet Hertz's Cockroach Controlled Mobile Robot, which I blogged about a long time ago.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

anthropologist MA student seeks Cyborg Anthropologists for PhD

anthropologist: Cyborg Anthropology: "Cyborg Anthropology
Hello,I am new to the community and I am rediscovering the anthropologist in me. I am currently finishing my MA in Women's Studies and writing a thesis that seemingly has very little to do with anthropology. I am writing about the cyborg as a liberatory identity in dystopias. However, prior to this topic, I was going to write about the cyborgging of the gendered body in relation to mmorpgs (or other online communities) but felt it was more appropriate for a dissertation. I want to pursue a PhD, unfortunately, I have not found many anthropology departments/programs that have any faculty researching cyborg anthropology. At UC Irvine, I have found two professors who are but other than that, nothing. I was wondering if anyone knew of any professors or departments that are researching or at least interested in cyborg anthropology or at least examining online communities using anthropological methods and methodologies. Thanks!"

Yet Another Comics Blog: 1977 vintage Giant Cyborg Gorilla

Yet Another Comics Blog: Monkey Covers: "Sunday is Monkey
Covers day here at YACB. Because there's nothing better than a comic with a monkey on the cover.Today we have the 1977 cover to 2000 A.D. #5, which features Judge Dredd taking on a giant cyborg gorilla. Giant Cyborg Gorilla. I love comic books!"