The Cyborgs Are Coming!

Similar to that of a bionic humans and body parts, cyborgs contain intelligence and mechanical, as well as organic, attributes. Transhumanism include the category of cyborgs, too! In my opinion, there is a fine line between a cyborg and a bionic entity, and there can be overlap between the two. However, according to Merriam Webster, a cyborg is “a person whose body contains mechanical or electrical devices and whose abilities are greater than the abilities of normal humans”1.

Cyborgs are currently among us and they don’t necessarily look like those circa The Terminator 1984.2 We may not be seeing as advanced as the T-101 and T-1000 models from The Terminator or Terminator 2,3 but we are seeing the beginning of “biobotics” 3 and utilization of cyborgs in real life.

Some of these hybrid cyborgs, also known as “biobotics”, include remote control equipped cockroaches,4-5 and rats with infared vision.6 The cockroaches found in the labs at NC State University’s electrical engineering research laboratories.4 Do not fear, these roaches aren’t equipped with lasers to kill us, and won’t be taking over the Earth anytime in the near future; rather, these “pests” are remote controlled. The researchers at NC State University have wired a 0.7 gram micro-controller to a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach. The “controller” can manipulate the roach’s movement, by sending small electrical impulses to the three areas connected to the roach (back, abdomen, and antennae). The research team was investigating wireless biological interfaces, which were consistent and could be used to infiltrate small areas.

If roaches aren’t your thing, then North Carolina has another friendly “pest” to offer its biobot “services”. The researchers at Duke University have developed a neuroprosthesis, which allows the rats to detect infrared light. 6 Lucky for us, these infrared vision equipped cyborgs aren’t going to zap us with a laser, soon after detecting our whereabouts. The rats were implanted with stimulating electrodes in the “touch-sensing” part of their brain, which are connected to an infrared sensor. The research supports the theory that in the future a cortical neuroprosthesis, similar to the one adorned by the rats in the study, could be developed and used to help humans or beast to have the ability to see any part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The concept of a cyborg is inherently foreign and frightening; thus, cyborgs get a pretty bad rap. However, not all cyborgs are out to end all of humanity. Cyberdyne’s Hybrid Assistive Limb aka HAL, is a great example of how cyborgs can be “Team Human”7 (yes, Cyberdyne from the Terminator2, but not THE Cyberdyne – still it’s a bit creepy!). The HAL suit is a little bit bionic and a little bit robotic, with a dash of cyborg. The suit is manufactured by Cyberdyne and received Global Safety Certificate this past February, which was issued based on a draft guidance of an international safety standard for personal robots.8 The suit has features that include Bio-Electric Signal Sensors that attach to the wearer’s skin and reads biosignals and can even predict the wearer’s next move. Currently there is a military version, HULC, and a version in trial right now, which helps the elderly. It is essentially a titanium exoskeleton, which helps carry a greater load than what the wearer would be able to handle without the suit. Range of motion isn’t inhibited either. 9-10

Stay connected! Part III of this four part blog mini-series includes “Not-so-Vulcan ‘Mind-Melds’”!

What are your thoughts, comments, and feedback? I want to know!

-RSpelich ^_^

Works Cited

1.) "Cyborg." Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. <>.

2.) The Terminator. Dir. James Cameron. Perf. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Fox Pathe Europe, 1984.

3.) Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Dir. James Cameron. Perf. Arnold Schwarzenegger. 1991.

4.) Dillow, Clay. "Video: Cyborg Cockroach Scurries Along a Precise, Curved Path." Popular Science. Popular Science, 09 Sept. 2012. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. Available at: Accessed on 11 Nov. 2013.

5.) Latif T. and Bozkurt A. “Line Following Terrestrial Insect Biobots.” Cond. Proc IEEE End Med Soc. Vol. 972, no.5. Aug. 2012. Available at: Accessed on 11 Nov. 2013.

6.) Elert, E. "Researchers Give Lab Rats Terminator-Like Infrared Vision." Popular Science. Popular Science, 12 Feb. 2013. Web. Available at: Dillow, Clay. "Video: Cyborg Cockroach Scurries Along a Precise, Curved Path." Popular Science. Popular Science, 09 Sept. 2012. Web. Available at: Accessed on 11 Nov. 2013.

7.) Cyberdyne. Robot Suit HAL®. Available at: Accessed 13 Sept. 13.

8.) Industry Week. “Japan’s Robot Suit Gets Global Safety Certificate.”Agence France-Presse. 27 Feb. 13. Available at: Accessed on 11 Nov. 2013.

9.) Kluger, J. “The Iron Man Suit.” 11 Nov. 2010. Time. Available at: Accessed on 11 Nov. 13.

10.) Vlad. “HAL Robot Suits May Help Disabled And the Elderly to Move.” Gadgets.07 Oct. 2008. Available at: Accessed on 11 Nov. 2013.

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