The cybernetic arm is a staple of Science Fiction. It has been for decades. Even as far back as the 30s, the idea that we would someday be able to create mechanical replacement limbs that work as well as the originals was completely believable, and the reader or viewer or otherwise consumer of story accepted it without question.
Today, giving a character a cybernetic limb is still a quick and easy (and often sloppy) way for a storyteller to say “hey look, we’re in the future! See, there’s a cyborg!” (I know I did it too, but the real point of Koda’s artificial arm is how he lost the original. We’ll get there eventually, I promise, just keep coming back every week and you’ll find out.)
But there’s a problem. This isn’t science fiction any more, it’s just science. The future is now.
There are people in the world with prosthetic limbs that they control with their minds! Just like Koda, who has neural implants that interface between his brain and his artificial arm and eyes!
Wait, you say, the men in this article aren’t really controlling their artificial arms with their minds, the limbs are reading the nerve impulses and muscle movements in the remaining portion of their arm. Okay, maybe that’s true for these guys. But what about this woman? The linked article focuses on a quadriplegic woman’s ability to operate a flight simulator with just her mind (which may be the most bad-ass thing I have ever heard), but before she was flying fighter jets, she was feeding herself candy bars with robotic arms. Operated by electrodes attached directly to her motor cortex. For real.
Okay, okay, this is all very cool, but Koda’s arm is still fiction. I mean, even setting aside issues of dexterity and control, Koda has actual sensory feedback from his arm. He can feel just as well though it as he can through a regular flesh and blood limb. That’s still fiction, right?
Seriously?! Okay, fine. Mental control and a sense of touch are all very well in the lab, but this is all still really theoretical. People don’t get to just walk around with this technology. It’s not being used in the real world.
WHEN DID I FALL ASLEEP AND WAKE UP IN THE FUTURE?! How am I supposed to write Science Fiction if real scientists keep taking the fiction out of my favorite tropes?
Oh well. At least artificial gravity is still safely far-fetched. Right? (googles nervously) Okay, good. Phew.
Oh and by the way, tractor beams are a real thing. Just saying.