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Write By the Rails Blog Spot- Nick Kelly!

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Techno-Cops

In my debut sci-fi novel, “Catwalk: Messiah”, http://www.amazon.com/Catwalk-Messiah-Leon-Caliber-Story-ebook/dp/B00E1UONEY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392082354&sr=8-1&keywords=catwalk+messiah

I introduce my anti-hero, Leon “Catwalk” Caliber. He’s an ex-cop who has cybernetic legs and a spine, giving him the ability to run super fast, jump super high, and, well, you can imagine what happens when he kicks someone.

Catwalk is a cyberpunk character – part of a possible future where people look to technology to overcome sickness and disease, or to be able to do things normal humans can’t do. The catch is that the more technology someone adopts, the less human they are. At one point, they lose their ability to be human at all. The twist I wanted to introduce with Cat is that almost half his body is powered by cybernetics, and that intrusion of technology was not his choice. He fights a lot of bad guys, but his ultimate fight is to hold on to his humanity.

The idea of a techno-cop or crime fighter is nothing new. Look at the upcoming reboot in theatres of Robocop. Here’s a wounded warrior put into a biotech suit of armor to fight crime. The 2014 version is sleek and fast, but the idea is simply rehashed from the 1980’s movies. Fox Networks’ new series, “Almost Human”, introduces robots that serve as cops. It’s a buddy cop show, and the artificial intelligence robot cop has a thing called a “synthetic soul”. It’s a slightly different take on the techno-cop theme. (I enjoy the show immensely, largely due to the writing and the banter between Karl Urban and Michael Ealy.)

The idea is older than that, though. Lee Majors played Steve Austin, “The Six Million Dollar Man” back in the 1970’s. Remember that? “Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology.” One of the most iconic cyberpunk movies is Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”, which stars Harrison Ford as a cop who retires replicants (cyborg humans), and may be one himself.

The blurring line between human and machine is a fascinating study. Technology can provide more biological benefits than ever before. Prosthetic limb replacement has emerged to the point of having an iPhone app to control a biological arm. Mobile medical devices include pacemakers, blood pressure monitors, and insulin pumps for diabetics.

(Erin Biba dives into the ethical arguments of bio-technology in this article) http://www.tested.com/science/weird/458506-transhuman-conundrum-elective-bionic-limb-replacement/

As science fiction becomes reality (it always does), we’re near a crossroads where some of these technological powers, and corresponding dangers, will make news headlines. The generation growing up now is considered digital natives, not digital immigrants. They have never known any other form of information exchange and communication than digital/online.

The threats are also coming. With internet-enabled medical devices come the threats of hacks, malware, and nation-backed attacks. Malware in the past few years has already traversed the gap between software and hardware.

A piece of bad code can change settings on an assembly line or a control. Here are a few examples – programming an ATM to say that the $20 bills are actually $5s, and then making a withdrawal to get 4x the money requested. Telling a machine that inflates a balloon that 10 lbs of pressure is only 1 lb, inflating it to 100 lbs and popping the balloon.

Take that a step further. Tell a heart pump that 110 bpm is only ½ that, causing it to double the pace. That’s our reality. Digital threats are out there, and technology is being used in low profile and high profile attacks alike. The way things are going, we’re going to need techno-cops in a hurry.

Good thing they’re on the way.

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Nick Kelly is a musician, professional speaker, and an author. His works include the cyberpunk/sci-fi novel, “Catwalk: Messiah” (Book One in the Leon “Catwalk” Caliber series), and “Ichi” (Book One of the Urban Samurai series). Both are available on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00BQD7J2W

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