As much as I like Ghost In The Shell, in truth, the very idea of merging organic musculature and nerves with machinery has been something I’ve been having problems conceiving. Fortunately for the rest of the world, Japan is not limited by my knowledge of biochemistry and mechanical engineering. A robotic finger uses it’s lab-grown muscles to lift an object – which might not seem like such a huge advancement to people expecting, but most people don’t really think about how complicated joint control, muscle movements and neural signals are – until they lose the ability to use their hands. While primitive in appearance, the advancement in artificial muscular response to electrical stimuli is still a large step forward in not just partially organic prosthetics, but also potentially in purely organic repair of muscle function – at least in my view.
While full limb biohybrid mechanical prosthesises are still far off, this new development opens up the possibility of (relatively) small advancements that can be practically applied. As I’ve noted above… fingers are very complex, and you don’t miss them until you don’t have them any more.