If you have heard about the bionic eye and don’t think it’s cool as hell, what are you even doing reading my blog?
Scientists are close, probably within ten years, of being able to cure blindness in a massive number of cases—that is, as I understand it, among everyone except those whose disability is caused by damage to the visual cortex. How cool is that? How wonderful, how human, how proud we should be to be a member of a species that can do this!
How was it done? At a University. At public expense. I repeat, at public expense. Tax money well spent indeed!
What will happen now? Well, a couple of things I want to point out.
One of them is that people with loss of vision will be able to see—if they can afford it. If not, sorry for ya. That the technology was developed at public expense does not mean the public is entitled to its benefits.
Here’s another thing that will happen: Someone will develop an elegant solution to some of the remaining problems, such as the interface between the eye and the brain, or maybe something else—very likely at another University and at public expense. He will patent it. He will start a company to produce products based on it. He will make incredible amounts of money, and official society will widely proclaim him a hero, especially when he donates a hundred units of his product to the poor in Rwanda. And, as he checks his bank balance, he will loudly decry the waste of money going into institutions like Universities, because, he will say, taxation is theft.
And he won’t even be aware of the irony.