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DIGITAL PEOPLE

Artificial skin and muscles are examples of how the technology of artificial creatures and research in human implants interact with each other to create replacements for body parts and organs and, poten- tially, improvements in human function.The medical market for im- planted devices is enormous, with millions of implants performed every year.This biomedical enterprise provides a technological base for efforts to enable artificial beings to mimic human capabilities, while research in artificial beings leads to better implants.

Despite our best efforts to construct artificial beings, at the mo- ment living organs, developed through millennia of evolutionary progress, are generally superior to their artificial counterparts. Even a cat or mouse brain, let alone a human one, functions more intelli- gently in the real world than the best AI-driven robot yet built.The sensitive nose of a dog detects odors beyond the capabilities of me- chanical sniffers.The answer to some of the pressing problems of cre- ating artificial creatures might be the combining of nonliving with living parts, just as the god Hephaestus used the flow of ichorbloodto add something essential to his bronze robot,Talos. As the next chapter shows, humanity already has a surprising history of com- bining the living and the artificial.

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