Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Prosthesis and Open Source Programming.

I was recently asked about Open source Programming and it’s relationship in the development of prosthetic limbs? I have done research into both of theses fields of research extensively. I find this subject fascinating as prosthetics in terms of cyber-theory and trans-human theory are defined loosely as any outside devices that aids humans. For instance a Post It note is a cognitive prosthesis; a palm pilot would be considered this as well. In regards to the issue concerning open source coding for the computation, many open source operating systems are responsible for a new wave a innovation in server technology, web-based technology, data base applications. The open source is exactly what it sounds like, the code is available to all who use it. While some in the world of open source technology view it open source development as philosophy of cyber-Marxism, others view it simply as a means of more effectively creating effective products for the end user. Any applications or mutations developed in Open-source code must have the code that runs the software or hardware available for modifications the applications are free or almost free, many of the applications are distributed online via file sharing programs like BitTorrent etc. In creating greater ease for distribution the programmers help to distribute the program to even more programmers who look for flaws and bugs within the program to further optimize the program. doing so the applications are designed with the end user benefiting the most from the development of the program, it truly is a democratization of information. This process frees information from it's capitalist constraints. Much like MIT's media lab developing the 100 dollar laptop, which was made possible by development in open-source programming so too I can see the benefits of Open Source programming coupled with that of Prosthetic design. One of the many drawbacks of creating artificial limbs is creating artificial limbs that are cost effective for the end user. Many millions of people world wide are affected by the lose of limbs, open-source programming can and will allow to lower the prohibitive cost of artificial limbs to those in the underdeveloped world. In theory a 16 year old boy who may have lost a limb from a land mine, could have access to the 100 dollar lap top and a prosthetic limb with open-source programming and make modifications to his own prosthesis to suit his own demands. Likewise he could share the modifications of his limb by uploading the modified program to a open-source list serve for others using or developing the prosthetics to download and further modify. Alibre's software allows of developers to download portions of the program ala carte for use in developing, the full software package is priced around 1800 dollars, I don't know much about the pricing of CAD software but CGI and other graphics programs, I know can run into the 10's and thousands of dollars. I think I might want to sit and sink on this one a little bit more. but this is a extreme interest to me. I might have to do a little research on this my self. I have recently been reading a book called cognitive technology, which deals with human relationships with prosthetic devices, a great read, although I would have to argue that the some of the conclusions that they draw from the studies within the text are laughable ( hah ha ha h aha)