Rupert Goodwins' diary

Wednesday 1/8/2001Nah. No sign of Code Red. The nation is spared.

1/8/2001 Nah. No sign of Code Red. The nation is spared. So it's time for some unalloyed good news. Doctors in Illinois have implanted experimental chips into the retinas of patients with eye damage: powered by solar cells, these are designed to replace damaged light-sensitive cells with a version of the circuitry you find in camcorders. It is, as so often, early days, but this has massive potential. Of all the senses, the eye and visual cortex are among the best mapped and best understood, and with some very clear interfaces where we can leap in, plug and play. I have a vested interest, having sprouted a retinal haematoma that's mystified the medicos for the best part of a decade. I've enjoyed a battery of tests ranging from staring into a device akin to a dot-matrix urinal to a procedure known to its friends as a fluroangiogram and to me as pure science-fiction torture, but so far we've drawn a blank even if I now know the back of my eyes better than the back of my hands. If the worst comes to the worst, I'll gladly get chipped. But I may hold out for the Mark II -- cyberpunk aficionados will know of the Carl Zeiss replacement eyeballs enjoyed by characters of the near future, and I'll be happy to spring for built-in zoom, UV and infrared, and a thirty-minute playback buffer. Or failing that, I'll be happy just to know that I can carry on seeing. Technology's not just about collapsing markets and Microsoft.