Beginning Machine Man

I just started reading Machine Man, by Max Barry. I’m hooked. The story is told by an industrial engineer named Charles Neumann, who, in an accident, loses his leg. Unsatisfied with prosthetic legs available (“buckets on sticks”), he sets out to design his own.

From the start, my mind filled with questions about the future regarding how human beings will interface with machines. Already prosthetic legs are controversial as we witnessed in this summer’s Olympics when athletes with their natural legs compete against those with artificial ones.

As technology continues to ramp up, with devices becoming smaller and cheaper, there will certainly be a time when most any part of the body can be replaced with superior technological analogs. Couple that with a population’s willingness to go through plastic surgeries to enhance their appearance; some even attempt to carve themselves to appear like celebrities or totems or cartoons.

When that technology arrives, I would expect human beings will seek out surgeons to have their healthy limbs or eyes, or other organs removed and replaced with devices that improve what God or nature has given them. Where will ethics and law come down on this? And permissible or not, how will such technologies shape society?

By chance, yesterday, I came across a film short, “True Skin,” that touches upon these very questions. According to, this short may be turned into a feature-length movie.

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