The Singularity is Nigh

Paging Lieutenant Commander Data: Harvard Bioengineers Create ‘Cyborg Flesh’

 Paging Lieutenant Commander Data: Harvard Bioengineers Create Cyborg Flesh

Even cyborgs love cats. (Photo: Capt Kozmo)

If you need any more proof that the future is now, consider this recent discovery from a bioengineering lab at Harvard: researchers successfully merged living cells and electronics to create cyborg flesh. Lieutenant Commander Data would be so proud.

According to Extreme Tech:

As far as the cells are concerned, they’re just normal cells that behave normally — but the electronic side actually acts as a sensor network, allowing a computer to interface directly with the cells….The Harvard engineers basically took normal collagen, and wove nanowires and transistors into the matrix to create nanoelectric scaffolds (nanoES). The neurons, heart cells, muscle, and blood vessels were then grown as normal, creating cyborg tissue with a built-in sensor network.

The Harvard engineers have successfully completed this process with rat tissue, but have also grown a human blood vessel that boasts cyborg parts.

Being able to control the cells of your body through electronic means would allow for some pretty awesome (and probably terrifying) applications. It’s essentially an extreme version of the biohacking that The Verge reported on a few weeks ago–using technology to enhance and strengthen human abilities. Nanotech could also help keep you updated on what’s going on inside your body, sending you messages if there’s a blockage or clot, for example.

And don’t even get us started on the implications it could have for your sex life. Remote controlled boners, anyone?

Don’t worry, though; as Extreme Tech points out, we’re still a long way from having any Data clones roving the planet.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com