Smithsonian Builds Real-Life Bionic Man

The Shadow Robot Co. attempts to see just how close it can come to recreating the human body in the Smithsonian Channel documentary The Incredible Bionic Man. This version is considerably cheaper then its fictional counterpart, The Six Million Dollar Man. Manufacturers from around the world donated $1 million worth of prototypes for artificial organs including lungs, kidneys, pancreas, spleen, heart and circulatory system. Some organs are still too complex to recreate such as the liver, stomach, intestines and most important of all, the brain. The bionic man communicates using an internet chat bot called Cleverbot. Rather than give programmed responses, the program learns from user input to give more human responses though there are still some hiccups.

“Actually, I like Eminem,” the bionic man relayed. “Eminem is a famous crapper. No raper, ripper. Yeah, I mean rapper.”

The Incredible Bionic Man
The Bionic Man has over one million sensors, 200 processors, 70 circuit boards and 26 individual motors.

The face was modeled on Dr. Bertolt Meyer, a social psychologist at the University of Zurich and fellow bionic man. Meyer wears one of the most advanced arm prosthesis in the world but he was visibly shaken upon seeing himself fully transformed into a machine.

“I thought it was rather revolting to be honest,” he told the Daily News. “It was quite a shock to see a face that closely resembles what I see in the mirror every morning on this kind of dystopian looking machine.”

Aesthetics aren’t the only problem. There are also ethical concerns. An artificial heart costs over $100 thousand so for now becoming bionic is often reserved for the rich. In the future, athletes could gain an unfair advantage by opting to have body parts removed for better, faster, stronger parts.

Bionic isn’t always better. Many bionic body parts use Bluetooth technology, which is notoriously insecure says Marc Goodman, Law and Ethics and Global Security Advisor at Singularity University. He cites the recent invention of a Bluetooth cannon that can tamper with diabetic pumps from a distance of 100 meters.

“Now for the first time ever in the history of humanity, we have the human boy subject to cyber attack,” Goodman warns.

The Incredible Bionic Man airs October 20 on the Smithsonian Chanel.
Watch online at Smithsonian Channel or YouTube.