Cyborgs and robots are often portrayed with an ‘industrial’ aesthetic, as if all the machines we know about are found in factories and run by blue collar workers. That’s why this beautiful image is so encouraging:
Honest-to-Betsy, the first thing I though of when I saw that arm was: my arm is so boring. As technology improves, aesthetics improve as well. Of course, some companies, like Apple, have maintained aesthetics as a central part of their design-engineering process for quite a while (BMW, Koolhaas, Google come to mind). What makes this arm so exceptional is best explained by Mark Wilson at Gizmodo:
Imagine if this arm had been covered in a pseudo-flesh toned rubber. Your brain would acknowledge the piece as something that didn’t fit. Maybe because this arm isn’t trying to look real, my brain accepts it as part of the image with ease.
Yes, emphatically yes. That is precisely it: the mechanics of the prosthetic must replace the original bio-arm, but the aesthetics need not and, perhaps, should not. The pirate hook, an iconic prosthetic, is an example of this, where form followed function and then that form took on a new roll as signifier. Her arm is much better than a hook, I might note.
The above concept image comes from originally from PlayMeDesign, which has a great accompanying article about the arm and its the goals of its creator, Alexander Huseklepp. PlayMeDesign had a previous entry on what I can only call couture medical wear. Both articles are excellent and remind me of a very critical point: items like eyewear (from which Huseklepp drew inspiration) and clothing are fundamentally augmentations. The fact is, they have become so prolific and common place, that these augmentations are simply seen as bland accoutrements that go unnoticed in our every day life. If you don’t believe we’re already transhuman, ask yourself why the term “naked” can be used as a synonym for “helpless.”
AboutPop Bioethics, written by Kyle Munkittrick, is an effort to study the ethics of the continuing evolution of the human species via the lens of pop culture and be somewhat entertaining in the process.