It seems like a trope, but the synthetic humans of stories like Blade Runner, and Prometheus are not that far-fetched. We’re tinkering with this everyday and the march toward a synthetic human is already underway. While we may still be many years away from the T-Class model that is featured in The LIghtstream Chronicles , it looks like it could happen long before we get to 2159. On page 101 we see a warm, breathing, touchable, figure that for all intents and purposes could be human. It begs the question, in the future, whether or not we will be able to tell or not.
There are some interesting developments in humanoid synthetics already on the table, so to speak. The University of Arizona at Phoenix recently began using synthetic cadavers with a beating heart, flowing blood and a liver that makes it’s own bile.1. The company that manufactures the cadaver SynDaver™ Labs also has a skinned version which has “…the ability to control arms, legs, jaw, eyes, respiration, and pulse using a separate wireless tablet.”
On the potentially scarier side of the equation is DARPA the Department of Defense research group. These are the people that brought us robotic mules that can outrun a human, robotic soldiers and warrior drones. But that’s old hat now, and DARPAs new focus is on biotech, stuff like living tissues, and artificial DNA. According to web site Motherboard, “The goal is to create man-made, living supermaterials that can be used for next-gen mechanical and electrical products, self-repairing materials, renewable fuels, solar cells, and so on.”2
In the April 2014 article Motherboard continues, “Just last week researchers manipulated DNA to engineer the first synthetic, custom “designer” chromosome, “designed on a computer and made from scratch in a laboratory,” as the Economist explained it. It’s being heralded as the first step toward a man-made artificial organism.” You might want to check out an earlier blog that paints a bleak picture of what could go wrong here. Of course, DARPA paints this as “all good” and all designed to benefit mankind. After all, what could possibly go wrong?
Out of Vancouver, BC, comes The Synthetic Human Project or Synthius project. This is a huge endeavor that brings together people like Autodesk (they guys who make my 3D software) and the University of British Columbia to, “…fully simulate the organic whole of a real human.”3
There is actually tons of research going on in all aspects of synthetic humanoids, humanoid robots and artificial life. And of course there are sex robots, too. And people think I make this stuff up.