Where does the line between machine stop and human start? That line seems to get blurrier all the time. In a recent report in the New York Times, “Man Uses Chip to Control Robot With Thoughts,” author Andrew Pollack writes,

the first person to receive the implant, Matthew Nagle, was able to move a cursor, open e-mail, play a simple video game called Pong and draw a crude circle on the screen. He could change the channel or volume of a television set, move a robot arm somewhat, and open and close a prosthetic hand.

This article summarizes research reported in a July 13, 2006 cover story, “Turning Thoughts Into Actions,” in the journal Nature.

One of the realities of postmodern life is that boundaries once thought to be unassailable (including the boundary between humans and machines; a staple of science fiction) are regularly transgressed. The “bionic man” of TV fantasy comes closer to reality all the time and at this point seems to be simply a technical problem that we will inevitably solve. While such technology can give hope to people who have lost limbs or have reduced mobility, it also raises questions about possible unanticipated consequences of human abilities enchanced by computer and machine technology. What kinds of possibilities might open up to us if we can control computers and machines through thoughts alone?

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