Science Questions

How do people feel when they have chips inside them?

Sun, 15th Jan 2012

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Question

Chris Smith asked:

How do people feel about having an electronic chip implanted? Do they respond negatively to becoming a sort of cyborg?

Answer

Markus -   So far, I'm seeing patients in the eye clinic who are interested in the technology because they are blind and it gives them the possibility to see things again.  So they're highly excited to be part of research and be part of the project, but I would not think that they would consider themselves a cyborg or weird in any way.  Itís just a different form of camera technology which is connected directly to the eye rather than through the retina indirectly.

Chris -   Is this something you've come across Kevin?  With people feeling a bit strange because they are literally now part man, part machine?

Kevin -   No, I think one thing that's interesting is that with an implant, even if itís an artificial hip, that sort of implant, very quickly, you regard it as being part of you.  Itís not like wearing a pair of glasses and you can put them down.  When you get an implant, itís you.  Itís technologically different.  I would guess that people with retinal implants, they wouldnít think of this as an implant.  Very quickly, they'll think ďOh, it is me.  I can do those things now.Ē  Which is tremendously exciting, how mentally you take these things onboard, just as much as physically.

Helen -   Kevin, you've had a couple of implants yourself.  Is the reason that you volunteered because you couldnít find anyone else to do it or because you wanted to do it yourself?

Kevin -   Actually, we get quite a few volunteers even now, and I actually have three of my undergraduate students who have implants.  Not the same type, not the neural type, but to be honest, for me it was quite dangerous what weíre doing, particularly the Utah array, the 100 electrodes firing into my nervous system, so there were dangers associated with that but I also wanted to experience for myself what it felt like.

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