The rise of the cyborgs -- welcome to the post-human age

It is predicted that robots will surpass human intelligence within the next fifty years. The ever increasing speed of advances in technology and neuroscience, coupled with the creation of super computers and enhanced body parts and artificial limbs, is paving the way for a merger of both human and machine.

In the course of current research projects, devices which were once worn on the body are now being implanted into the body, and as a result a class of true cyborgs displaying a range of skills beyond those of normal humans is being created. There is a variety of different cyborgs: some can see colour by hearing sound, others have the ability to detect magnetic fields, some are equipped with telephoto lenses to aid their vision or implanted computers to monitor their heart, and some use thought to communicate with a computer or manipulate a robotic arm. These developments are not science-fiction; they are really happening and will continue to develop in the future. However, a range of legal questions has arisen alongside this emergence of artificial intelligence and will have to be dealt with as research progresses.

The author Dr. Woodrow (Woody) Barfield previously headed up the Sensory Engineering Laboratory, holding the position of Industrial and Systems Engineering Professor at the University of Washington. His research revolves around the design and use of wearable computers and augmented reality systems and holds both JD and LLM degrees in intellectual property law and policy.


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