False Economy

The new bionic hand is impressive. The £8,500 prosthetic, unveiled today by British inventors, is extremely versatile: it can point, grip, pick up small objects with precision and perform the ‘key’ operation wherein the thumb is pressed against the index finger in order to turn a key or hold a plate. A caption to the graphics supporting the report in The Independent points out that the hand can also hold a credit card.


The scientists are missing something here – if it can hold a credit card, could they not design one that can only hold a credit card? And if that were feasible – and it doesn’t seem that hard but then I’m not a prostheticist – could not a range of prosthetics be produced that would oblige the wearer to behave in socially constructive ways? A pair of bionic legs, for example, that will only walk to work then go to the shops. A set of bionic eyes that will transport to the visual cortex a landscape devoid of CCTV cameras. The mind boggles.


Rather than piss about with electronic monitoring via anklets and transponders, the feet of offenders could be amputated and replaced with feet that stayed at home.

19.07.2007