The world of robotics and biology are on a crash course which could soon find encountering a fellow human who is part cyborg. Seriously.
The possibility is based on a notion dating back to 1971 when Berkeley electrical engineer Leon Chua arrived at the idea of a theoretical electronic component, “memristors.”
Memristors modify electrical currents depending on signals received, similar to transistors. The difference with memristors is that their behavior is based on how they were last activated.
Memristors, finally developed by scientists at Hewlett Packard using titanium dioxide in 2008, Indian scientists writing in the International Journal of Medical Engineering and Informatics, outline how a memristor can now be manufactured using the blood of a human. Not only that, but the scientists in Gujarat explain how they have been successful in making memristors out of modified human blood cells.
Using a macroscopic experiment with a 10 ml. test tube of human blood at 37 Celsius (the average body temperature of a human) and two immersed electrodes connected to measuring electronics, the scientists were able to determine blood’s resistance varied in reaction to the applied voltage polarity and size, and the effect was “retained” for at least five minutes. Follow-up tests, displayed similar, positive, reactions, indicating the memristor effect was present even when flowing blood was used in the experiment.
What this means is that the scientists concluded they can create microscopic devices which, when used, would behave similarly to microscopic memristor manufactured by semiconductor materials akin to those in silicon chips.
Next, the scientists plan on creating a a micro-channel version of the flow memristor device integrating several to carry out particular logic functions. Success with these tests could lead to circuitry linking human tissue and nerve cells to electronic devices, such as a robotic limb or artificial eye.
While still in its early stages, the idea that humans could be outfitted with bioengineered blood cells which interact directly with electronics is both amazing and frightening. Every advance in science invariably could lead to one using something designed for good in dastardly ways the creators never envisioned possible.
What do you think? What positive and potentially negative, effects could the technology described above have when implemented?