As a mid-century mod girl, my eyes were always focused on the future. From the Jetsons to the Six Million Dollar Man to the Bionic Woman, everything sci-fi about the future was fascinating to me. I wasn't as passionate as I am today about the whole tech era and didn't understand then exactly how a cyborg (or loose variation) actually could exist.
However, I do remember the first show, starring Lee Majors (as Steve Austin), who was considered a cool guy with leading man good looks. It also helped that he was married to a world famous actress/pin up superstar, Farrah Fawcett (one of my idols at the time). With the reality of space travel in the mass consciousness, the plot of superhero astronaut, Steve Austin, was fascinating. He was radically injured when his spaceship crashes and the government rebuilds several of Steve's body parts with machine parts (Completing his quasi-cyborg transition) With a complete recovery, his machine parts enable him to have superhuman strength and speed, as well as other powers. With these powers, Steve goes to work for the Office of Scientific Information, fighting the forces of evil.
This brings to mind the whole concept of transhumanism that seemed so far into the future, beyond my comprehension, but would never be a reality in my life time. However we are now in the twenty first century and so many aspects of futurology are actually becoming a reality.
There are so many aspects of futurology that precluded the boomer generation's obsession with life extension, becoming ageless, and the whole concept of a finite humanity are being challenged. Visionaries such as Ray Kurzweil have been leading the way in discovering radical life extension with radical life enhancement. He claims to "know that 20 to 25 years from now, we will have millions of blood-cell sized devices, known as nanobots, inside our bodies fighting against diseases, improving our memory, and cognitive abilities."
Today, transhumanism is increasingly being influenced by actual science and technological innovation, much of it being created by people under the age of 40. It's also become a very international movement, with many formal groups in dozens of countries. Now the younger generations are actively passionate about the possibilities according to my Huff colleague, Zoltan Istvan.
As the popularity of the Six Million Dollar Man grew, creating a buzz in the biz, the Bionic Woman was introduced in 1976. This time there was a female Superheroine, Jamie Sommers (Lindsay Wagner), who almost dies in a sky diving accident. Her former fiancé Steve Austin then had a counterpart, since Sommers was rebuilt bionically. With these new superpowers, she ends up working on dangerous missions for the government, as you would, of course!
In present time reality, we really do have some amazing technological and medical advancements. If you go onto the internet you will find millions of results on surgery and surgical technologies. From organ replacements to body makeovers, spinal procedures to minimally invasive heart bypass surgery. Prospective patients can go online to find information on sites, such as USC Keck School of Medicine to find out about certain procedures to even watching them on YouTube. Recently, my friend's husband had triple bypass surgery, whilst her sister had quadruple bypass surgery. Knowing what to expect and the advancements in medicine to rest her mind slightly, was a great comfort to her at the time, and, suffice to say, they are both doing well.
It seems as if there are so many boomers and athletes going in for routine surgeries that were once just science fiction. It is now commonplace to schedule limb reconstruction and/or joint replacement surgery. In my yoga studio, for example, there are several students with hip and knee replacements, living a more vibrant and whole life than would have even been imaginable when they were younger.
While it may be more commonplace, there are still complications. Finding a respected and renowned orthopedic surgeon who is highly specialized is the key to getting the optimum results. A fellow boomer who lives in New York just posted about their new hip replacement on Facebook. They were thrilled to get back their mobility after a decade of deterioration and they are now playing their favorite past-time, racketball, after hobbling around the gym for several years. Whilst researching the increase in surgeries and the forms they take, I came across Dr Karkare, a New York-based orthopedic surgeon, and was absolutely staggered when I saw the array of procedures that surgeons are now able to offer to treat and eradicate ailments and conditions of this nature.
In fact, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, in March 2014, there are 2.5 Million Americans Living with an Artificial Hip, 4.7 Million with an Artificial Knee. There was a 188 percent increase in knee replacements, 123 percent increase in hip replacements for patients age 45-64.
With the rise in procedures, there is also an appetite to develop new and more efficient means of conducting procedures and also developing new solutions, it's all quite exciting. The most exciting is the future of the bionic body, but this, as with anything, relies on heavy investment, something which is not one of life's certainties. Geoff Brumfiel, writing on the Smithsonian, summarized it perfectly when he detailed the account of a boy he met called Patrick Kane, who lost several limbs just after birth, due to infection, when he writes:
"Depending on what happens next, Kane's future may be filled with technological marvels--new hands and feet that bring him closer to, or even beyond, the capabilities of a so-called able-bodied person. Or progress might not come so fast. As I watch him dart across the road to the bus stop, it occurs to me that he'll be fine either way"