I secretly harbor this idea that video
game developers are prophets in their own right. Now that my insane idea is out
in the open, let’s play “What if” with video games. We might find that it isn’t
so preposterous after all.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Game premise: Complete human augmentation is a reality in
the year 2027.
Focus story: To
save Adam Jensen’s life, he undergoes extensive surgery and gets a cybernetic
makeover. Most parts of his body either get an augmented upgrade or are entirely
recreated. He enters the sci-fi world of Deus Ex as a cyborg; an organic and
artificially engineered human.
Real life: How
close is modern day technology on producing prosthetics? Could it even be
possible for organic tissue and digits to form a symbiosis? How would the
interface work and would it be hackable? What would the emotional impact be on
an augmented person and would it be affordable for ordinary people to purchase
augments? When I start to think about the implications of living in a cyborg
world, it causes Pandora’s Box to open in my mind. Just consider the fallout it
would have on economics, the human psyche and ethics, not to mention the
military applications. One thing is certain though, prosthetics are already
adding tremendous quality of life to people who have suffered the loss of some
part of their body. Let’s take a look at how far we have advanced with human
augmentation in 2012.
Touch bionics is already
producing “i-limbs”, products that include a myoelectric prosthetic hand
and prosthetic finger solutions. The “livingskin” product uses hand crafted,
high definition silicone that gets hand painted on the prosthetic limb to match skin tone and appearance. Touch
bionics has produced prosthetics for
world class athletes and improved the lives of countless ordinary citizens.
there is Rob Spence, a self-confessed real life cyborg and Deus Ex fanboy who
lost his right eye in a shotgun accident. Five engineers teamed up to build a prosthetic eye with a wireless camera
inside it and thus entered, Rob the “Eyeborg”.
Follow Spence in this documentary as he
sets out on a journey around the world in search of others like him.
I leave you with
this: “Could augmentation be the fountain of life?”
Game premise: People wear the Sensen device on
the back of their necks, through hacking this device victim’s memories can be
altered and/or stolen.
Focus story: The proposed future for humanity has essentially
done away with secrecy - memories can be bought and sold, and people can know
anything about anyone for the right price. You can read more about the game
here; Capcom introduces memory bending with new game: Remember Me.
Real life: This
sounds highly unlikely to happen in real life. For starters, why would people
even consider wearing such a device? The implications this would have on
ethics, privacy and economics are staggering. It would fundamentally change how
the world operates. The premise that with the right technology a person could
steal another person’s thoughts is ridiculous. Or is it? For just R2 513 you
can buy the EPOC neuroheadset
and jack up to your PC.
This is the sales pitch: The Emotiv EPOC is a
high resolution, neuro-signal acquisition and processing wireless
neuroheadset. It uses a set of sensors to tune into electric signals
produced by the brain to detect player thoughts, feelings and expressions and
connects wirelessly to most PCs.
Real life applications: Artistic and creative expression - Use your
thoughts, feeling and emotion to dynamically create colour, music and art. It
has life changing applications for
disabled patients, such as controlling an electric wheelchair,
mind-keyboard, or playing a hands-free game.
Games and Virtual Worlds - Experience the fantasy of controlling
and influencing the virtual environment with your mind. Play games developed
specifically for the EPOC, or use the EmoKey to connect to current PC games and
experience them in a completely new way.
Market Research & Advertising - get true insight about how people
respond and feel about material presented to them. Get real-time feedback on
user enjoyment and engagement.
What they don’t say: A group of researchers from the University of California
at Berkeley, Oxford
University and the University of Geneva
did a study on 28 students wearing the EPOC. The researchers found that
they were able to extract hints directly from the electrical signals of the
test subjects’ brains that partially revealed private information like the
location of their homes, faces they recognized and even their credit card PINs.
(Source Forbes Games)
This is how I understand they were able to crack each
individual’s personal code. Participants were shown a series of images, which
enabled the researchers to collect a digital database of how an individual’s
brain recognises that which is familiar, a baseline for recollection if you
will. When therefore shown a map of their neighbourhood, the subject’s brain
would trigger a memory spike indicating that he or she had a connection to the
image. Through a process of elimination researchers were able to pinpoint the
exact residential address of the subject.
They were able to
access extremely confidential and private memories.
The realities in
these two video games both have a shadow in the real world. The implications
are exciting and scary at the same time. With technology one should never
forget that it gives with the one hand and takes with the other. Technological
advancement comes with its own price tag, be it an economical, ethical or moral
Share with us
some video games to real life examples that you’ve come across.
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