Prosthetics: Upgrade available

Prosthetics: Upgrade available
Image: Eric Helgas, styling by Alex Citrin-Safadi
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Athletes at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics had prosthetics perfectly designed to help them run, jump, or swim as the events required. Now the technology behind those prosthetics is coming to everyday people who need it—and, possibly, to people who don’t. Augmenting able bodies for super-human functions: What could go wrong?

Sponsored by Alumni Ventures

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Kira Bindrim is the host of the Quartz Obsession podcast. She is an executive editor who works on global newsroom coverage and email products. She is obsessed with reading and reality TV.

Samanth Subramanian is a senior reporter at Quartz covering the future of capitalism. He is obsessed with submarine cables, PG Wodehouse, and King Lear adaptations.

Show notes

Carbon fiber legs used by Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius

Ancient Egyptian prosthetic, a big toe made of wood and leather (1069 to 664 BC)

2016 brain implant that allowed a paralyzed man to move a robotic arm with his mind

Fake eye prosthesis made of bitumen paste (2900 to 2800 BC)

Herodatus book 9 chapter 37, Persian soldier Hegesistratus cuts off his foot and replaces it with a wooden one.

Roman general Marcus Sergius had his right hand cut off in battle

Ear trumpets(17th century)

Eyeglasses from the 13th century

Long John Silver’s peg leg, Captain Hook’s hook

Flex-Foot, Van Phillips’ cheetah-inspired prosthetic foot

The extended mind” by Andy Clark and David Chalmers, 1998

Elon Musk’s Neuralink

Exoskeletons for military applications

Exoskeletons for labor

The ethics of artificial organs

Tycho Brahe

This episode uses the following sounds from freesound.org and Free Music Archive:
Coffee Maker Brewing.aif by MegaPenguin13
Alarm.wav by Tempouser
Glad To Be Stuck Inside by HoliznaCC0

Read the full transcript, or a lightly edited version.