MindBullets 20 Years


Uproar over "unfair advantage" and "immoral surgery"

A disabled athlete has disrupted the annual Paralympics in London by setting new world records in the 100m, 200m and 400m distances – faster than any able-bodied athlete, laying down a challenge for athletes at the 2012 London Olympics in July.

This year’s events have been dominated by Li Lo, a relatively unknown Chinese athlete who first competed as an ‘able-bodied’ athlete and then, after a mysterious car accident in 2006, lost both legs at the knees and was quick to enter the Paralympics the following year.

This year he has not only left his fellow disabled athletes in the dust, but has also put all of the world’s able-bodied short-distance runners on the spot.

A storm has broken out around his “unusually high performance”. It is now claimed that he faked the car accident to have his “fairly mediocre” legs replaced by unique high-tech carbon-fiber blades from the knees down. Critics claim that they give him “unnatural spring” in his legs.

Chinese doctors have been hounded to explain how they voluntarily helped him to become an android.

Lo is simply too fast, too quick – and no one knows how to handle his success.

Is he really ‘disabled’ or is he one of the first ‘transhumans’?

In a total turnaround, able-bodied athletes are now calling for protection from the ‘disabled’!

ANALYSIS >> SYNTHESIS: How this scenario came to be

Dateline March 2007

Oscar Pistorius has caused quite a storm amongst the athletics purists – both in the able-bodied and disabled forms.

Known as ‘the fastest man on no legs’ and ‘Blade runner’, he wants to show that a horrible accident or a congenital birth defect need not hold people back in any walk of life.

But the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) killjoys don’t agree. They are reviewing their rules as a direct consequence of his achievements – and he is not likely to be allowed to run against the able-bodied.

Banning a double amputee from racing ‘normal’ people is not fair – on the normal folk. That’s the novel argument being put forward by the IAAF.

Look closer and you realize that the IAAF may have got this one right. The problem is that Pistorius – who had his legs amputated as a one-year-old because he was born without fibulas and his parents wanted him to walk rather than spend life in a wheelchair – has a massive advantage over his rivals due to a variety of high-tech artificial legs that he can choose according to his needs on that day. When running, he whips out his ‘Cheetahs’, carbon fiber prosthetics made by Iceland’s Ossur.

The springy blades allow Pistorius to stride higher and longer than would be humanly possible without prosthetics.

Is he still ‘disabled’? Or perhaps a new form of life? Perhaps he is ‘transhuman?

What lengths will people go to, to enhance their performance beyond the ‘natural’?

Will we have the TransHuman Olympics soon?

We can just imagine the bidding war that the media will engage in to win the rights to these events!

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.