|The TL/DR Synopsis||Synopsis: Uploading human consciousness into artificial bodies is a science fiction trope, but medical research is making an artificial human body increasingly possible.
Includes links to (a) product page for bionic eye, (b) abstract of paper on bionic eye.Includes embedded video (a) animation of how bionic eye works, (b) news item featuring a bionic eye user.
From time to time I blog here about the factual background to elements of my fiction. Here’s one such element: in the Fallen World books (which include Luck and Death at the Edge of the World, Felon and the Judas Kiss, and the upcoming Los Angeles Honey), human consciousness can be scanned, stored, and decanted into artificial human bodies called shells.
The real life question of how consciousness is ebodied in the brain and whether it can ever be reproduced in an artificial system is the subject of a lot of debate. But the other side of the equation is the question of whether we would ever be able to create a fully functional synthetic human body.
Medical science is rapidly increasing the number of human systems that can be augmented or entirely reproduced artificially, as well as the degree of functionality they provide. The usual goal is repairing or replacing systems that malfunction, but in effect the components of a complete synthetic human are gradually being assembled.
In the United States, the Federal Drug Administration has now approved the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, created by Second Sight, which brings us a step closer to true artificial vision. A paper on the interim results of an international trial has been published in Opthalmology (abstract).
The Argus II product page is here. It’s billed on the company’s site as:
…the world’s first and only approved device intended to restore some functional vision for people suffering from blindness. Argus II is approved for use in the United States and the European Economic Area.
Video Animation of the Process
News Video Featuring an Argus II User