Prosthetics are not just for mammals anymore

This article about cyborg plants is full of all sorts of potential scifi goodness.

Cyborg Plant consists of a simple avocado plant (Persea americana) which is nurtured by an attached robotic prosthesis. The prosthesis measures the avocado’s drought stress — indicated by “the position of the leaves and the electrical potential within the trunk” — and irrigates the plant as required. This attachment, which is essentially a spacesuit for plants, enables the avocado to live indoors without human attention for much longer periods of time than would otherwise be possible (the interior of a built space being nearly as hostile for plants as land is for fish).

Or how about:

This might sound like a far-fetched idea, but, as Next Nature notes, a Filipino scientist produced a bio-luminescent Christmas tree by covering it in bio-luminescent bacteria harvested from local squid in 2007, and other researchers have proposed applications for (truly) bio-luminescent plants ranging from lighting highways (which, assuming that the bioluminescent trees would at some point begin to naturalize, might produce the most strikingly beautiful displays of exotic plant invasion imaginable) to crops which glow when they need water. Mushrooms make forests glow; why shouldn’t trees make cities glow?

It also talks about networking plants. As we continue to mechanize food production, cyborg plants are going to become part of our understanding of ‘nature’. What surprises me more, however, is how little this appears in scifi. The concept seems so obvious once you start thinking about it; mammals are made cyborg all the time. Why not plants as well? It often seems that our networked future is entirely too anthro- and mammalian-centric.

The future: brought to you by Microsoft

At the risk of posting too many youtube videos on my blog, here’s yet another one. But you’ll love it! This is a clip of some of the research going on now to let people easily control their electronics with their mind. Well, with their muscles. But not the muscles that you’d usually use! Anyway, I could easily imagine some kind of armband with easily-attached EMGs; I can’t imagine that would be too hard.

And yes, they’ve applied for a patent for it.

The Matrix: Population you

Remember how the robots in the matrix harvested people for energy? Well – why not do that ourselves? Apparently, turning our bodies into portable batteries isn’t that far-fetched of an idea:

[T]he bio-batteries closest to reality at this time, the yeast cell ones, have a major problem with waste products. That waste is created as those particular batteries involve microbial yeast-based fuel cells that steal “some of the electrons produced when the yeast metabolizes glucose” in order to create a small current. While the entire process works just fine, the yeast cells are at risk unless the waste products are removed. We can’t exactly let the waste be dumped into the blood stream, so until there’s a some kind of cleaning process, the batteries are trouble as they either they die off or poison your bloodstream while trying to survive.

People are already dreaming up gadgets that could, say, use your blood to power a digital tattoo. Who needs an iPhone when you’ve got a blood powered tattoo on your arm?

Anyway, this is from a cool blog I haven’t seen before – This Cyborg Life. Read up on people choosing to amputate in order to receive prosthetics (sometimes there’s a good reason).