Written by: Rabiya Ahmad, Romeesha Iftikhar, Fatima Khan.
Have you ever thought of a television that is using electricity produced by the blood like fluid of snails and you are selecting your favorite TV channel having your favorite program on-air with the help of a cockroach as a remote control. Now, to think this is astonishment for all of us but it would be normal to see it enduring in our homes one day after few years. All of this would be possible or would exist by the concept of ‘Cyborg’. We have to know what is cyborg? Cyborg is a term derived from ‘cybernetic organism’ which means an organism having both organic and biomechatronic body structure. Biomechatronic body structures are the biological, mechanical, electronic, and tele communicative integrated body structures. This cyborg is a quite different term than bionics and biorobotics. It refers to a being having augmented potentials and reinforced functions by integrating different technological components. Cyborg involves mammals, usually humans or other kind of organisms that could be used for the sake of human welfare by the most basic combination of technology. A simple example includes artificial cardiac pacemakers performing different significant functions of a human body makes a cyborg. The use of contact lenses and hearing tool by humans for augmenting biological functions are another example of cybernetic organisms. In other words to understand, cyborg is the mixture of human and technology/machine. John Silver， Doctor Octopus，and Marcus Wright are the famous cyborgs from movies Treasure Planet，Spider-Man 2，and Terminator Salvation，respectively.
It is of great interest that the tissues of cybernetic organisms (cyborg) can be used for tissue engineering that is beneficial to the generation of new products that could be used for electrical and mechanical means. These cyborg tissues are assembled with some plant cells or fungal cells in addition to carbon nanotubes, having particular characteristics when shaped into particular required forms. The cells of Candida albicans have been proclaimed as cyborg tissue ingredients having particular temperature sensing characteristics.
Currently, the persons that have lost their legs because of any kind of accident or disease are restored with C-Leg that is artificial leg containing sensors which encourage appropriate walking of the person converting disability into healthy fit state. C-Leg is the first actual and practical application of cyborg that has opened a door for further advancement.
Actual cyborgization attempts have been done on a number of persons. Cyborg technology has been used for the treatment of non-congenital blindness as vision is an essential source of knowledge. This can be done by targeted brain implants or producing implantable material for blind persons. Usually, this requires implantation of single-array BCI (Brain-Computer Interface) with electrodes into the grey matter of brain and the glasses containing cameras which have to be worn by that blind person to get vision. BCI gives a devoted path to the communication between brain and external material while these glasses converts image of pattern of signals and send these signals to implanted electrodes for generating image of vision. This artificial vision has gained great success so far. Similarly, cochlear ear implants have been reinforced biological function of hearing from the persons that were naturally deaf.
Have you ever seen dragonflies as modest tiny drones or moths sniffing out drugs, bombs and other chemicals instead of dogs or mice distinguishing magnetic and non-magnetic areas? Similar to these, there are many cyborg animals which are designed to perform many significant functions. Cockroach, using cyborg technology, could be used to form a fuel cell containing two electrodes requiring sugar that comes from the cockroach’s blood while oxygen from air of environment to generate electric energy. In addition to cyborg animals, plants are also incorporated into machines for augmenting particular biological functions. Scientists are trying to generate such plants that contain super-capacitors for the sake of storage of energy.
There are many different practical applications of cyborg in different fields of life, such as in medical science, for the reinforcement of lost functions of different organs and limbs and for the augmentation of biological functions of different body parts. Damaged body parts can be altered with mechanical, electronic, or bionic implants for the mimicking perfect natural function. Even artificial hearts and limbs can be developed as replacement of damaged heart and malfunction limbs for humans. Other disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Tourette syndrome, Alzheimer disease, Sustained Headaches, Epilepsy and other mental diseases are now treated with neurological surgical procedure i.e. deep brain stimulation in which brain electrodes are implanted in disease origin area of brain for sending electrical impulses for treatment. This procedure is quite risky and needs advancement. Cyborg implants can be used to detect and locate inflammation or tumors within the human body.
In military, cyborg insects can be developed as spies for communication between private data by implanting sensors in insects in their pupal stage and their motion is controlled. These insects can be used to disclose bombs, explosive gases and harmful chemicals. For navy force of military, sharks are implanted in the detection of enemy ship movements towards private area of the ocean. Bugs could be made as a remote control of different military tools same like cockroaches as TV remote. It has also become possible to cast or drop small bombs on enemies using movement controlled bugs with radio antenna. For military, biomechanics exoskeleton and shape wear garments could be made for doubling and boosting power, strength for fight against evil and enemy. Brain implants can augment memory of detectives for enhanced functioning. Magnets and chips can also be implanted into human fingers to avoid the risk of forgetting passwords of important secrets of country.
The future of cyborg is vast, broad and endless, having numerous possibilities which have the ability to reinforce and augment functions of living organisms. Cyborg has the capacity to transform living organisms, even human. In future, may be at some stage of your life, you also become a cyborg. It could be happening in future that you would open your house and car lock with your finger instead of key and turn a bulb and television on using electricity from cockroaches and snails and ordering a mice to serve you a meal of your choice.