Beware of abandonware

When your bionic enhancements lose their support network

Right now there’s a bit of a goldrush to get hooked up to the latest digitally enhanced upgrades – for your body and mind. From bionic eyes to replacement arms to wireless neural implants, there is an astonishing array of gadgets which can restore your sight, help you walk again, or connect your brain directly to the cloud.

It’s the bionic age. Medical and computer scientists have joined forces to create chips and sensors that integrate into your body, and connect to your nerve endings and neural pathways. Originally inspired as a way to help paralyzed patients walk, and people with visual disabilities to see better, bionic devices can also monitor your insulin and keep pain at bay.

And now Elon Musk’s Neuralink is showing promise as a way to talk to your computer, just by thinking about it. Quite soon, we can expect biohackers to level up to super intelligence, by connecting their brains to deep learning networks and massive data banks!

There’s always a risk with cutting-edge hardware and evolving software; you have to be fairly confident that the innovators will be able to support you and provide the necessary updates. You want a lifetime support contract, and any ‘bugs’ that emerge need to be handled swiftly.

But what if the company itself fails, or the whiz kids that invented your bionic arm or leg or eye or brain pivot into a different field entirely? You could be stuck with a device that stops working, or causes serious problems in your life.

With wearables like Google Glass it was easy enough to discard them when they became obsolete, but with implants it might be hazardous or even impossible. You could end up with ‘abandonware’.

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

Despite appearances to the contrary, Futureworld cannot and does not predict the future. Our Mindbullets scenarios are fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. Use these at your own risk. Any reference to actual people, entities or events is entirely allegorical. Copyright Futureworld International Limited. Reproduction or distribution permitted only with recognition of Copyright and the inclusion of this disclaimer.