Our project partner and leader of the team working in a proposal for a regulatory & risk management framework for Interactive Robotics, Andrea Bertolini, participated in a podcast on sports and human enhancement of the Itallian Volleyball Federation where he discussed about how new technology might empower humans for the practice of sports.

In an specific way, Andrea Bertolini presented some real cases on which biorobotic and applications of Artificial Intelligence enhance human capabilities. New technologies are proposing solutions that allow human beings breaking phisical barriers that where unthinkable to be overcomed, in this sense, biorobics prosthesis might allow, to those wearing it, run faster, jump higher or to become stronger.

There are nowadays already people able to identify more colours, even those undetectable for the human eyes, becaming what it is commongly named as cyborg; this case,that started initially as a disability to identify colours, thanks to the research and the development of a new device plaven on the human skull. In the end, technology on the basis of artificial intelligence, might transform disabilities to super habilities allowing people do impossible tasks for a human being. But this technological progress raise a number of ethical and legal questions which might end in the limitation on the use of such technologies.

But there are other examples such as exoskeletons, prosthesis, microchips placed under the skin ofr even the genetical manipulation.

In the short term, we have already seen some of these issues raising in the sportive sphere, Oscar Pistorius, had suffered the amputation of both legs and had implants that allowed him to run faster. Here, it was seen that the use of the prosthesis allowed those wearing it to have a 30% more capabilities than a regular human being, making of a disabled person a superhuman.

picture designed by Master1305 – Freepik.com

In the medium term, we will get more used to see the uptake of new technologies allowing human beings improve their capabilities; and forthe sportive sphere, Andrea Bertonlini provides diverse potencial scenarios: a first one in which the sportive competitions in which participate people with diverse capabilities might attrack more attention than the tradicional competitions due to the powerfull capabilities of the competitors; or we could see the emergion of new competitions due to the new capabilities confered by technology; a second scenario, a more problematic one, could be this in which actual athletes decide to change their body and implant mechanical prosthesis in order to improve their phisical capabilities.

From an ethical and legal point of view this new paradigms present a large number of problems and reminds the doping, but somehow it might become normal, technology will change the idea of normality and it will propose new ways of being human beings. It will become an instrument of democratization and freedom, but there will be need of limitations and regulations, the problem will be to find the objective criteria. It will be necessary to meet the informed consent, be informed of the risks associated of such a medical intervention, to subordinate our bodies and our lives to dependence on technology; in a sense this subordination already exists, today we depend on smart phones, we can’t imagine living without email. Let us imagine a world where it is unthinkable to be a professional sportsman without having replaced a part of us with mechanical technology.

Listen the original podcast of Andrea Bertolini (in italian)

Part 1 of the podcast
Part 2 of the podcast

Listen the full podcast here

The strengthening allowed by biorobotics