Where Are The Cyborg Olympics?

from the come-with-me-if-you-want-to-live dept

Earlier this week, double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius from South Africa was disqualified from participating in the 2008 Olympics by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). Born without normal lower legs, Pistorius uses artificial carbon-fiber feet that are more efficient, and on top of that, his lack of real legs makes him lighter -- as well as possibly reducing his body's production of lactic acid from exercise. So with these advantages, the IAAF judged that his prosthetics were unfair to other competitors.

However, this ruling brings up very interesting questions surrounding where society draws the line between natural and artificial augmentations of the human body. Lasik and similar eye operations can enhance human vision for athletes beyond average eyesight. Blood doping doesn't technically introduce artificial substances into the body. Natural gene mutations are okay for now, but it's likely just a matter of time before genetic engineering becomes an issue. So at some point, the line between a 'natural' athletic competitor and an engineered contestant will need to be more clearly defined -- if only because it will become increasingly difficult to tell the two apart.

The modern Olympics were set up as a way to bring nations together (if you believe Wikipedia). But if the entertainment aspect of these games becomes more valuable, then in addition to the Robo Olympics and cyber games, the post-modern Olympics may need to offer a place for cyborgs if the Paralympic games aren't competitive enough.
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Filed Under: amputee, olympics, prosthetic

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  1. identicon
    Jim Christie, 18 Jan 2008 @ 8:26am

    Re: Amputee Oscar Pistorius

    FYI, Matt and everyone who wonders... Oscar was born without the fibula bones in his lower legs. Doctors and parents decided he wouldn't be able to navigate through life with just the tibias supporting his weight. They'd fracture constantly... so when he was 11 months old, the legs were amputated below the knoee. He learned all his locomotion (ie. walking and running) on prosthetics and played sports, including rugby and track.
    But he is, indeed, an amputee.

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