When I go through the “TSA personal massage” process, the agents giving the patdown are usually skeeved when they feel my right calf and foot, which are textured to feel like real flesh and bone. I’ve been told that it gives them the “chills” to feel something so real and know that it’s not. Or, as has happened more than once, they assume that my titanium thigh (which is evident as hard metal even through clothing) is somehow connected to a real flesh-and-bone knee, calf, and foot).
This may or may not be so – it’s difficult to be sure, in what are arguably still early days of this particular kind of human augmentation, but again, I would take this a step further: that, as both Jenny and I have argued, what makes us the most uneasy right now about human augmentation is the idea that it might make people – especially people with disabilities – better than abled humans. We can usually stomach humans with close relationships to objects and machines, provided they don’t begin to transgress the boundary that not only delineates a category but defines that category as an ideal.
I don’t yet have bionics that rival an organic limb, but I welcome that day and I assume that it’s not far away. For now, my fake-leg-wishlist includes the ability to add a wifi hotspot and a USB port for charging my phone. I’m not far off from that goal, either–my awesome friend Scott has already built up a prototype of the USB-adapter leg with my old bionic knee.
And once that’s in place I suppose that I’ll even let my friends charge their devices off of my battery once in awhile. Because I’m nice like that and I feel a little bit sorry for the rest of you that don’t have awesome bionic peripherals like mine. ;)