Re: Tech/news: Hand transplant

Anders Sandberg (
26 Jan 1999 19:28:43 +0100

den Otter <> writes:

> By the way, I've noticed that even in the Western world
> prosthetic limbs tend to be rather ugly and impractical (and often
> expensive too), although even some fairly basic tech could turn them
> into handy add-ons.

There are reasons for this. Basically, the advanced designs tend to be too easily broken or tricky to maintain, there is no huge need to keep the prosthesis completely natural if it can be covered by clothing. Muscle- or nerve-controlled prosthesises are actually not that popular in comparision with mechanical ones, simply because of short battery lifetimes and unreliability. Sure, things like that are changing, but remember that we are talking about devices that have to work almost all the time in fairly rough conditions.

> Especially prosthetic hands offer lots of
> interesting possibilities like integrated phones, computers, life/
> health monitors, weapon systems (mace and stun gun for example,
> or something more powerful), compartments to stash medications,
> money etc. etc. Having a useful, "space age" tool instead of a just
> an ugly piece of plastic/tubing attached to your body should make
> the [patient's] psychological adaptation process easier too.

I think much of this can be done at the request of the patient at the local prosthetical engineering workshop (after all, prosthesises are heavily customized by definition), but most people seem content to just get some of the functionality back, not add new. Maybe we could spread awareness of the possibilities among the handicapped? But don't get too surprised if they turn out to be conservative; I have found by personal experience that handicapped people are often extremely down-to-earth, practical and sceptical of technological fixes.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
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