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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Monday, August 20, 2007

'Simon Birch' star, now MIT student, on human augmentation

ian michael smith150.bmpIan Michael Smith (left), star of the 1998 movie "Simon Birch" and a sophomore at MIT, tells Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert that technology such as his cochlear implant is all about "customizing your body."

Smith had just had the implant activated as a result of his increasing deafness, a side effect of Morquito's syndrome. The form of dwarfism limits his height but not his life span, the story says.

Ebert asked Smith, who is majoring in electrical engineering and computer science, about the science-fiction dream of merging human and robot.

"Weíre seeing advances in human augmentation that we had no idea 10 or 20 years ago would be possible," Smith said. "I donít think anyone ever expected cochlear implants to be as advanced today as they are now. Now we have the same sort of technology being used as visual implants to provide sight to people, and to treat Parkinsonís with brain stimulators."

"Itís not about augmenting human capability for its own sake," he said. "In my case, Iím not going to rush out and start injecting steroids just to be strong because I have no use for that. Itís about customizing your body to do what you want it to do."

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 09:04 AM
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