15 June 2007


Oscar Pistorius is a champion runner.

Pistorius handily won the 100 and 200 meters .... his victories came decisively and kept him aimed toward his goal of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, even though international track officials seek to block his entrance.

Why don't the officials want him competing?

Pistorius wants to be the first amputee runner to compete in the Olympics.

It's a deep, serious question.

Among ethicists, Pistorius’s success has spurred talk of “transhumans” and “cyborgs.” Some note that athletes already modify themselves in a number of ways, including baseball sluggers who undergo laser eye surgery to enhance their vision and pitchers who have elbow reconstruction using sturdier ligaments from elsewhere in the body. At least three disabled athletes have competed in the Summer Olympics: George Eyser, an American, won a gold medal in gymnastics while competing on a wooden leg at the 1904 Games in St. Louis; Neroli Fairhall, a paraplegic from New Zealand, competed in archery in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles; and Marla Runyan, a legally blind runner from the United States, competed in the 1,500 meters at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. But Pistorius would be the first amputee to compete in a track event, international officials said.

A sobering question was posed recently on the Web site of the Connecticut-based Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. “Given the arms race nature of competition,” will technological advantages cause “athletes to do something as seemingly radical as having their healthy natural limbs replaced by artificial ones?” wrote George Dvorsky, a member of the institute’s board of directors. “Is it self-mutilation when you’re getting a better limb?”

Why stop at thinking about atheletes? People already get surgery to look sexier. How long before someone turns to the surgeon to become the same kind of sexy as Aimee Mullins?


Kate said...

De gustibus on Aimee Mullins.


Love, Mom

qibitum said...

How long before someone turns to the surgeon to become the same kind of sexy as Aimee Mullins?

Oh, I believe there already is a fetish/DSM-diagnosis/pick-yer-own-label for this:

Jonathan Korman said...


Oh, yeah. I shouldn't have spoken in the future tense. This is already well-trod territory, as the folks at the squick-inducing BMEzine can attest.

d a r k c h i l d e said...

If it becomes a problem we'll just have to segment the event into an "au natural" and "enhanced" event. Maybe a handicap like in golf...like I know anything about golf!

I'm personally excited about enhancements where I can dispose of my old, tired-out parts (no matter if they are a pair of sagging, oversized sweat glands or my poor aching back...

As I previously stated in my own blog post, I'm activly searching out an unethical surgeon who will detatch my head from the rest of my body and come up with some sort of villian-esqe robotic platform which my evil-head can roam free of it's painful spine. Maybe a set of robotic tentacles to grasp things and act menacingly!

Oh, the possibilities!

Jonathan Korman said...

searching out an unethical surgeon

Hmmnn. Have you talked to any Russians?