4 DARPA Bionic Projects That Help Humanity - InformationWeek

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4/8/2015
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4 DARPA Bionic Projects That Help Humanity

DARPA-funded achievements in prosthetics and "cyborg" implants stand to improve the lives of countless disabled people - and, possibly, open up a whole new world of bionic super-abilities.
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Electro-Telekinesis

Another DARPA robotics program Scheuermann has been involved in? Mind control. After all, prosthetic limbs are great, but who needs them when you can use telekinesis?

Indeed, neural signaling reportedly represents 'the heart' of DARPA's research in this area. Accordingly, Scheuermann told researchers that she wanted to use her cyborg talents to fly a simulator of the Pentagon's newest and most expensive fighter jet: the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Using the same two electrode grids implanted into her brain in the 2012 operation, and nothing else but the power of her brain, Scheuermann was able to successfully pilot the simulation.

Additionally, Scheuermann's bionic flight process may work fundamentally better than a more traditional one.

'Instead of thinking about controlling a joystick, which is what our ace pilots do when they're driving this thing, Jan's thinking about controlling the airplane directly,' said DARPA chief Arati Prabhaka. 'We can now see a future where we can free the brain from the limitations of the human body.'

Oh, and you'll be comforted to know that Scheuermann  has been tolerating the electrode implants in her brain 'very well,' according Prabhaka.

(Image: Elgin Air Force Base)

Electro-Telekinesis

Another DARPA robotics program Scheuermann has been involved in? Mind control. After all, prosthetic limbs are great, but who needs them when you can use telekinesis?

Indeed, neural signaling reportedly represents "the heart" of DARPA's research in this area. Accordingly, Scheuermann told researchers that she wanted to use her cyborg talents to fly a simulator of the Pentagon's newest and most expensive fighter jet: the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Using the same two electrode grids implanted into her brain in the 2012 operation, and nothing else but the power of her brain, Scheuermann was able to successfully pilot the simulation.

Additionally, Scheuermann's bionic flight process may work fundamentally better than a more traditional one.

"Instead of thinking about controlling a joystick, which is what our ace pilots do when they’re driving this thing, Jan's thinking about controlling the airplane directly," said DARPA chief Arati Prabhaka. "We can now see a future where we can free the brain from the limitations of the human body."

Oh, and you'll be comforted to know that Scheuermann has been tolerating the electrode implants in her brain "very well," according Prabhaka.

(Image: Elgin Air Force Base)

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zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
4/8/2015 | 10:22:12 PM
Re: 4 DARPA Bionic Projects That Help Humanity
This is a good pairing, because I think your average person has misconceptions about both of these topics (that is, DARPA and bionics). There have been infinity movies portraying DARPA as an organisation that lies, cheats, and manipulates it's contractors and scientists to get what it wants, and then nefariously applies even the most innocuous-seeming technology to a combat-centric purpose.  It's nice to hear something sunnier for a change. I don't pretend to know what goes on behind closed doors, but it's obvious that the near-future intent of these projects is not the bionic soldier - rather, it's to help returning vets that have been wounded in service of their country.  This makes the user-friendly nature of the prosthetics that much more important.

As for bionics, I think people are inclined to the same prejudices they have against robots. They think the machine can gain sentience and behave outisde it's programming - again, because of too many bad movies. It just doesn't work that way. In this case, the machine works via rigorous mapping to the muscle (etc.) controls we already have in our body. It's a combination of existing technologies working together. Even knowing that, the extent and variety of the tasks accomplished was amazing to me - one linked video showing a 3D simulation not unlike an Oculus Rift was particularly impressive. Now, about Mark Wahlberg being The 6 B/Million Dollar Man? I've never watched a single episode of the original in my life, but somehow I'm still certain he's the wrong man for the job. Maybe if we replace him with a better, stronger, bionic Mark Wahlberg.
soozyg
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soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
4/8/2015 | 1:57:48 PM
harnassing the brain
Not too long ago, scientists were saying that human beings only use about 10 percent of their brain and it's still a largely unknown organ. Now we have brain mapping. Are we still at that 10% usage? 
soozyg
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soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
4/8/2015 | 1:54:07 PM
replacing limbs
60 Minutes has run stories about the replacement limbs and how advanced they are. One episode talked about the fact that the replacements are so good and helpful that they put one-legged runners at an advantage over two-legged, normal runners. Very interesting.
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