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Sep 13

The Economist on Disability, Design, and Future Technology: You, Robot?

The Technology Quarterly of The Economist has a thought provoking article about the legal, ethical, and moral implications of the latest advances in what could be called ‘cyborg’ systems. Consider this quote by Hugh Herr:

[Herr] described disabilities as conditions that persist “because of poor technology” and made the bold claim that during the 21st century disability would be largely eliminated. What gave his words added force was that half way through his speech, after ten minutes of strolling around the stage, he unexpectedly pulled up his trouser legs to reveal his bionic legs, and then danced a little jig. In future, he suggested, people might choose to replace an arthritic, painful limb with a fully functional robotic one. “Why wouldn’t you replace it?” he asked. “We’re going to see a lot of unusual situations like that.”

In a world like that, the Humanities are only going to become more important, not less, when what it means to be human will be challenged like never before. Perhaps this is something we should be discussing at THATCamp?

Illustration from 'You, Robot?' story at the Economist, by Belle Mellor.

Illustration from ‘You, Robot?’, Technology Quarterly Q3 2012, The Economist, by Belle Mellor.

2 comments

  1. Profile photo of Jana Remy
    Jana Remy

    I’d love to join a session on that topic.

  2. Shawn Graham

    It’s certainly something to think about, isn’t it? As a historian, I hadn’t thought too much further about digital media than in terms of applications for studying history. This I think would be an important conversation to have.

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