I am often referred to as a bionic man because I have two "smart" lower-leg prostheses that perform like biological legs–and in certain instances, outperform biological legs. As my "natural" body ages, my legs don't; I'm always ready for an upgrade.
But the technology that has given me these legs represents just the tip of the iceberg of what may be possible in an era where design promises to elegantly merge nature with technology. Imagine a world where we finally know as much about our natural selves as the synthetic materials we create–a world devoid of instruction manuals, where nature and technology are so seamlessly intertwined that we cannot tell where one ends and the other begins.
Next Wednesday, April 25, the Media Lab will be bringing together an incredible group of innovative thinkers, including Craig Venter, Reid Hoffman, Marvin Minsky, John Maeda, and Paola Antonelli for a day-long exploration that just might forever change your thinking about what is natural and what is not. And what the future has in store for us.
A live video stream of this event will be at http://www.media.mit.edu/events/spring12
Twitter hashtag: #MediaLabIO
Hugh Herr is associate professor of media arts and sciences at the MIT Media Lab, where he leads the Biomechatronics research group.