|MadSci Network: Biophysics|
Cody, Yes, living and non-living things can function together. A few examples that are fairly common today are: Implantable pacemakers and defibrillators that keep damaged hearts beating properly; Artificial heart valves; Cochlear implants that can restore partial hearing to people with damaged middle ears; and artificial limbs that can sense muscle impulses of the back or upper arm and bend at the elbow or close the hand. These are just basic applications; the technology isn't developed enough to allow highly sophisticated devices like computer/brain interfaces or fully functional artificial organs. One example is a dialysis machine: in order to do part of the work of a pair of one-pound kidneys requires a machine the size of a large refrigerator. The only experiment with connecting computers to a brain I know of was an attempt to stimulate the visual cortex with a computer-controlled electrode array to make letter shapes. It was only partially successful, and requires a room full of computer equipment and electronics. As computers become smaller and more powerful and the workings of the body become better understood, there might be something like this. Until then, though, we just haven't figured out how. Kevin
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