Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Bionics: friend or foe?

Prosthetic limbs have been around since believe it or not, 600 BC ! Which is incredible seeing as now, in the 20th century, humans have acquired the technology to develop lifeless limbs into full functioning biomechanical limbs which mimic a human limb. However this hasn’t come easy, with such a complicated project there is bound to be those who agree and those who disagree with its use, so ill pose the question to you, bionics, is it the future or is it failure?


One of the biggest concerns is the idea that there is a major risk in people using these exoskeletons for the wrong reason! Not to mention that they are already used in warfare, but what could this lead to?. The CEO and owner of SARCOS (the company behind the XOS2) said so himself that they are already developing the exoskeletons to control themselves. This is quite concerning considering the idea of robotics controlling themselves in military warfare where it could go terribly wrong if the exoskeletons go rogue or it could be a good thing considering there is less human life on the battlefield, which means less lives could be lost!

To prevent anything like this happening there are guidelines put in place. The code that engineers need to consider when developing such a complicated project is that scientists must ‘Use their knowledge, skills, and abilities to enhance the safety, health, and welfare of the public.’ -Biomedical Engineering Society Code of Ethics (2004). But in the past we have seen many figures abuse their power and disregard the guidelines therefore there is still room for concern.


Riding a bike or brushing your teeth are everyday things that unfortunately some people can’t do due to losing this ability from a very young age. Imagine the feeling you would get if you could do these things due to science!.

Lets take a look at a real life example of what effects this has on people’s lives. The man on the right, Mike Swainger, lost his arm at age 13. After losing his arm he said that he was in a dark place and that accepting disability was the hardest part. Then at age 33, he was given the chance to be the first person in the UK to be fitted with the battery-powered myoelectric bebionic3 arm(a hefty 25,000 to $35,000).  Now after receiving his arm he says he has a new lease in life and cannot be more grateful for the this arm which has changed his life. Being able to hold his youngest daughters hand is his favourite thing about having his new arm. If you want to see more inspiring success stories click here.

Does the risk outweigh the reward?

As of now there is much more developments in the medical field as opposed to the military division, however who knows what will emerge once government provides military defence forces with more funding and the flexibility to venture and be creative with new developments. Both fields have their benefits and concerns but is that not always the case with science?



Collins, H. (2012). Father who lost arm in train accident at 13 becomes first in UK to be fitted with bionic hand. Daily Mail Australia. [online]. Available at: [Accessed 4 may. 2106].

Bebionic. Bionic hand is ‘life-changer’ for Hull amputee. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 May. 2016]

Touch Bionics. Ambassador stories. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 May. 2016]

Salleh, A. (2008). Bionic implants raise ethical questions. ABC News. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 May. 2016]

Illinois Institute of Technology, (2011). Biomedical Engineering Society Code of Ethics (2004). [online] Available at: [Accessed at 4 May. 2016]



One comment on “Bionics: friend or foe?

  1. matb1
    May 6, 2016

    Hi emineailmovska, really enjoyed the personal stories listed in support of medical prosthesis, whilst your blog focuses mostly on limbic prosthetics and the ethical concerns of prosthetics being used for warfare in future situations, I am curious to hear of your views on more internal prosthesis devices, such as the technology involved in pacemakers and the like. In terms of medical advancement, this form of prosthesis has saved thousands of lives and revolutionised internal cardiology, but with the advent of improved technology, these devices have become more accessible. This accessibility whilst for the most part is due to the increased need to monitor conditions, opens up the possibility of breach from cyber-attack. In 2012 a cyber security expert claimed he could stop a pacemaker from 50ft away. (BBC News. (2016). Could hackers break my heart via my pacemaker? – BBC News. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 May 2016].) With the advent of more and more wearable medical technology such as Sony’s patent for a recording iris lens (Starr, M. (2016). Sony patents contact lens that records what you see. [online] CNET. Available at: [Accessed 6 May 2016].), what are your thoughts on the safety of prosthetics not from a warfare stance, but from a public safety stance, are these limbic prosthetics at risk?


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This entry was posted on May 5, 2016 by in Uncategorized.

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