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Technology Wants Your Body As innovaton in computers and electronics continues to flourish, we are inundated with opportunities to make our lives easier through application of technology. Every year there are less and less things that we must do for ourselves, which frees us from mundane activity, allowing us to become enlightened human beings and pursue great things in the fields of art, literature, and reality television. One can only assume that at the current rate of progress, eventually there will be absolutely no need for a human being to do any manual labor at all. And if we have nothing for which to use our hands (manus, in Latin, from which we get manual, as in manual transmission), then are our hands really worth keeping, are they worth the blood and protein they consume? As a matter of fact, when technology finally reaches maturity, will we really need any part of our body? We could quite happily exist as heads in tanks and reach a new renaissance of cultural enlightenment. Consider the current state of technology you see integrated into your life. Can you imagine life without a cellphone anymore? I often wonder how society has lasted this long without email, because when I can't check mine for a day or two my hands start to shake, and I feel alone in the universe. Down the hall from my office is a bathroom where all the plumbing is controlled through motion detectors, making it unnecessary to touch the metal handles and levers where other unwashed hands may have been. When I go to the grocery store the doors open for me, and if I so choose I can use the self-checkout. Rather than paying a gum-chewing teenage clerk to ignore me as she discusses politics with the clerk two cash registers down the line, I can be efficiently and thoroughly neglected by a machine instead. I hardly notice the difference. If I take something from the local movie rental store through the exits an alarm politely but firmly reminds me to bring it to the checkout counter for payment. My car has an automatic transmission, which liberates my right hand and left foot. I've actually, as result of injury, had occasion to drive with only my left foot and found the experience mostly effortless. One foot and one hand, preferably on opposite sides, for balance, are all that is needed to operate a motor vehicle, and the Segway scooter would allow the same monopod to navigate city streets and sidewalks with ease. We are able to immediately designate one half of our appendages as vestigal using only currently existing technology. With minimal innovation in certain fledgling tech areas, let's see if we can't do away with the other half. Currently automobiles are available with a Global Positioning System (GPS) that tells the driver when to turn, where to go, etc. Also some SUVs come equipped with motion sensors in the rear to alert the soccer mom that she is about to back over a child's tricycle, or a garbage can. Let's put these two technologies together. Rather than using the driver as a middle-man to interface the GPS with the steering wheel, let the car drive itself, using the motion sensors all around the car to make it aware of traffic, pedestrians, curbs, etc. Certainly if the supermarket door is advanced enough to not close on the grocery cart of a slow moving shopper, we should be able to drive cars that can avoid the same shopper crossing the street. So with no need for manual steering and acceleration or braking, the automobile is one place where unnecessary limbs can be left behind. The only challenge would be getting from the car to the segway, and back, but I'm sure that will be resolved by version 2.0. In areas outside of transportation and mobility, technology also exists to enable the rise of the next class of limbless humans. My current computer is equipped with voice recognition that will allow me to type, navigate and print without the use of a keyboard or a mouse. As this technology matures, anything that can be connected to a computer can be controlled with a word. Let there be light, or breakfast, or a quick trip to the mens room. Who can say what great things our society will discover or create once our bodies are liberated from the meaningless toil of physicality. Symphonies, performed of course by electronic orchestras, sculpture, rendered as interactive 3D models, possibilites are only limited by our imaginations and our latest memory upgrade. In C.S. Lewis's The Abolition of Man the author refers to men without chests. I believe that he's not thinking far enough ahead. We could achieve men without arms, legs or chests.

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