Back when Dr. de Hart and I were having our discussions when we were writing Transhumanism: A Grimoire of Alchemical Agendas, one of the things we talked a great deal about was the promise of new technologies in the realm of prosthetics, and of the long term implications. Well, with that in mind, here's one for your "tranhumanist scrapbook" as yet another technology appears poised to come on line, one huge with long term implications:

Artificial Retina Receives FDA Approval

Now, personally, I view the ability to restore some level of sight to the blind as a good thing, provided, always of course, that we allow those individuals who might benefit from such a technology the choice of whether or not they want to utilize it.

What interests me here is really two things: (1) the relative "klunkiness" of the device, and (2) the description of how it operates. First, the klunkiness. Many of you are probably not old enough to remember the first home computers... Commodores and Ataris and - for those who were desperate for a word processor - Radio Shack's TRS 80 (ah, I can hear those Daisy Wheel printers clattering away like a gattling gun even now). Then there were the first computer games, a black screen with a blip bouncing back and forth... then missiles, PacMan and Ms PacMan...

Compare those dinosaurs to what we have now. Smaller, more compact. Or recall too the first portable phones, nearly as big as a World War Two "walkie talkie" and only capable of making or receiving calls (barely). Now they fit into your hand, and you can do virtually anything with them.

So project the curve of this device forward a few years, a few decades. Soon, it will be miniaturized to the point it will fit directly on the retina, and people will not even know who has, and who doesn't have, an artificial retina.

We'll get back to that point.

Then there's the way the device works:

"The device, called the Argus® II Retinal Prosthesis System, transmits images from a small, eye-glass-mounted camera wirelessly to a microelectrode array implanted on a patient's damaged retina. The array sends electrical signals via the optic nerve, and the brain interprets a visual image."

Now again, project the development curve forward: no longer will the camera be external to the eye, but internal to it. One will, in the best DARPA-esque fantasy, be able to snap pictures and file them away in the brain, to be downloaded onto disk later.

Now imagine the extension of this technology: the incorporation of "extended frequency vision" (EVF we'll call it, given the penchant for the people involved with such things to speak in anagrams and abbreviations). With EVF, these sensors could be made to see into the infrared and ultraviolet range, and beyond. One might envision the ability to tune or select which frequencies one wished to see, and, of course, such a technology would constitute a "cure" for color blindness. The camera could be "networked" so that an individual could transmit real life images and audio recordings to a remote location where others could surreptitiously look and listen in...the ultimate transhumanist spy.

And of course, all those new security businesses that will spin off from it and a bevy of new slogans from Madison Avenue: "Be safe, be sure: have your fiance scanned for cyber implant interfaces today for the nominal fee of..."

The brave new world is coming folks.

See you on the flip side.



Joseph P. Farrell

Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and "strange stuff". His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into "alternative history and science".


  1. John Q. on March 6, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    “Then there were the first computer games, a black screen with a blip bouncing back and forth… then missiles…”

    And here we are.

    And, here we go.

  2. marcos toledo on March 6, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    This looks like Gorgi in Star Trek The Next Generation with his prosthetic visor that he uses to see. Though it would also have negative uses to control the users of such prosthetics in what they would perceive of the world that for the future to find out.

  3. Dag from Ringerike on March 6, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    This technology implies that in the corporate world, they acknowledge that Tesla waves or longitudinal waves exists, or – rule the brains. The eyes are a remarkable invention. Converting Herzian waves into longitudinal waves. And it is not done by mechanical devices, but by a very intelligent biological achivement, It amaze me how advanced this is.

    I remember when I was watching one of the space shuttles passing over our sky, very fast, my eyes could follow it, only step by step, kind of frames that appeared before me. My brain was only capable to absorb or filter fractions of the images that my eyes received via the Herzian waves.

    The implication of this technology could be vast if the world is moving into a steady growth scenario, economicly. But that is not the case, as I see it. And it should be used in complex societies, as some of us are living in now. Using it on farmers i Mongolia, Indonesia or other rural aerias would be a waste of money. But it could be used to control the ruling class, not in the way what we are experiencing now, e.g. those amatuer wikileake exposures.

  4. Robert Barricklow on March 6, 2013 at 11:44 am

    I sometimes see this as Transhumanism 101. Then it progresses until it reaches Posthuman 101. Now imagine being able to engineer within dna all kinds of mechanisms. That the junk dna are time bombs set to go off at certain apropo events/times, to trigger thought processes, or even to stop one from entering certain doors of promising futures.
    Are these “eyes” are leading us; not by choice, but by design?

  5. paul de gagne on March 6, 2013 at 9:51 am

    I wonder what’s going to happen in those counties where it is against the law to photograph the police committing a crime. Ops, pardon me, I meant a police officer carrying out his duties? I guess they’ll just pass another law forbidding anyone with one of these devices in their head from viewing police activity.

    Being able to register any visual input at the drop of a hat (the on and off switch to the device will probably be implanted in the brain so we don’t have to fu#k around with any buttons) will be a marvelous cure for absentmindedness.

    No longer will the phrase, “Did I just see what I thought I just saw” moments mean anything because we can always go back and refresh our data banks, ha, ha!

    In a way that would alievate the problem of lets say 5 witnesses in a courtroom seeing or giving five different versions or pictures of the story. (of course some hacker could interfere with the visual input so instead of unreliable witnesses’ we still could have unreliable testimonies.)

    Another more nightmarish scenario would be monsters or horrible images of punishment appearing in front of us every time we have a politically incorrect thought or idea. (they probably will have the ability to measure certain brainwave patterns but folks, that’s in the making thank you DARPA!)


    Yeah, I remember living in a small rooming house and my next door neighbor always complaining about the racket my printER made from those ‘outdated word processors. (but they were pretty swell at the time.) Showing my age, antique age I also remember those Dick Tracy TV wristwatches in the cartoons or funnies back in the dark ages right after the covered-wagons…

    Despite the potential for hanky-panky I still believe it’s a good thing. My mother lived to 94 and 77 of those years she had her sight (15 yrs. longer) because she received 3 corina transplants until the transplants wore out and she evidentially went blind. She was a foster-grandmother at a day care center for under-priviledged kids for about 15 yrs. Without the transplants that would have never happened!

    So, YES, the transplant-devices are a good thing!

    • paul de gagne on March 6, 2013 at 10:01 am

      I messed the math the math up? Until around 92yrs old my mother had her vision. The last two years of her life she had to probe her way around in the dark through the use of her tactile senses — such delicate finger tips.

      Have you ever seen an eye surgeon in action. I did watching her remove the tiny stitches (two that were irritating her) that looked like spider legs from her eyeball!

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