Human 2.0 Speaker Abstracts

David Magnus, PhD

Human Enhancement and Playing God: Are there limits to human nature?

Abstract: The public has a split view of science and technology: it loves many of the cures and advances that are produced, but there are also Promethean anxieties about what science and technology may produce. Ethical debate has largely reflected this split, particularly in regard to whether concerns over human enhancement represents a fundamental problem. Embedded in this debate is an often unarticulated vision of the limits of human nature. This talk will situate and critique some of the concerns that have been expressed about human enhancement and articulate a defense of responsible attempts to improve human flourishing through science and technology.

Sheila Ninenberg, PhD

Talking to the brain in its own language: a new kind of prosthetic device for treating blindness

Abstract: Over the last 50 years, neuroscience research has focused largely on listening to the brain - on taking recordings, analyzing responses, and trying to extract meaning from them. But now we’re entering a new phase, where we can go beyond listening, and can start talking back to the brain, and we can do it in its own language. This opens the door to a host of new technologies for treating disease. Here we present one such technology: a new kind of neuro-prosthetic for treating blindness.

Thomas Andriacchi, PhD

Understanding Knee Pathology: from ACL injury to Total Knee Replacement

Abstract: Unique insight can be gained from studies of the patterns of locomotion in patients with knee pathology ranging from ACL injury to total knee replacement. Examples will be provided to illustrate how improvement in total knee replacement has been aided by objective measures of ambulatory function and the potential for future improvements in joint replacement that can be based on information from testing patients. This presentation will conclude with a review of the functional performance of patients with an anterior cruciate deficient knee as a basis for addressing the future needs of a knee replacement to permit natural knee movement. Specifically the role of the anterior cruciate ligament will be discussed in the context of the interaction of the curvature of the articulating surfaces in maintaining a functional envelope of movement that is consistent with retaining both cruciate ligaments.

Conor Walsh, PhD

Wearable Robotic Systems for Rehabilitation

Abstract: Next generation wearable robots will use soft materials such as textiles and elastomers to provide a more conformal, unobtrusive and compliant means to interface to the human body. These robots will augment the capabilities of healthy individuals (e.g. improved walking efficiency, increased grip strength) in addition to assisting patients who suffer from physical or neurological disorders. This talk will focus on two different projects that demonstrate the design, fabrication and control principles required to realize these systems.

Brian Lawson, PhD

Next generation soft wearable robots

Abstract: Recent advances in robotics-related technologies have enabled the development of lower limb devices with human-scale power. As research groups begin to build these devices, several questions regarding control are arising. One such question is how to ensure that the devices move in concert with the user, since the introduction of power enables the device to move on its own accord. Our research group is currently focused on tackling this problem with intrinsic control methodologies. In other words, we are trying to design intuitive interfaces that do not require volitional control through methods such as electromyography or neural implants. My talk will highlight this philosophy in the context of the design and control of two lower limb devices: a powered exoskeleton for paraplegia and stroke rehabilitation, and a powered knee and ankle prosthesis for transfemoral amputees.

Michael McAlpine, PhD

Bionic Nanomaterials

Abstract: The development of a method for interfacing high performance devices with biology could yield breakthroughs in regenerative medicine, smart prosthetics, and human- machine interfaces. Yet, most high quality inorganic materials are two dimensional, hard and brittle, and their crystallization generally requires high temperatures for maximally efficient performance. These properties render the corresponding devices incompatible with biology. Nanotechnology provides a route for overcoming these dichotomies, by altering the mechanics of materials while revealing new effects due to size-scaling. Our group has focused on several vital areas for biointerfacing nanodevices: graphene nanosensors for ubiquitous detection, and piezoelectric nanoribbons for interfaced biomechanics. Our approach involves the following key steps: first, new nanomaterial generation; second, fundamental studies of novel properties; and finally, interfacing these nanomaterials with biology. We have also developed a future vision of bionic nanosystems in which the electronics and biology are seamlessly interwoven in 3D. The novel properties of nanomaterials coupled with “living” platforms may enable exciting avenues in fundamental studies and bioMEMS applications, including creating augmented bionic nanosystems.

David L. Jaffe, MS

Everything is Assistive Technology!

Abstract: What is Assistive Technology and why is it so pervasive? Dave's presentation will define and describe the assistive technology and disability fields with respect to products, perceptions, political correctness, projects, and people. He will explain how Assistive Technology fills our lives.

Michael McLoughlin

Advances in Neuro-prosthetics

Until recently, options for those who have suffered upper limb loss have been very limited. The integration of advances in neuroscience, robotics and autonomy are now opening new options for neuro-prosthetics and assistive robots, allowing us to intuitively control and interact with complex robotic systems. In this talk we will discuss some of these advances and show some examples of recent advances.