Prosthesis and the engineered imagination: reading augmentation and disability across cultural theory, representation and product design [review]

"If you see somebody begging under a bridge you might feel sorry for them or toss them a coin, but that’s not empathy, it’s sympathy or pity. Empathy is when you have a conversation with them, try to understand how they feel about life, what it’s like sleeping outside on a cold winter’s night – try to make a real human connection and see their individuality.”George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London, 1933.

There is an article out (Open Access, re-distributed [here]) [1], that aims to discuss prosthetic arms across engineering, imagination, representation and product design.

I will provide a short review from view of a person with right below elbow amputation that works in a particular field, and uses the prosthesis for real work and hard manual activities also in their spare time (see this paper we published and that explains the relevant technicalities).


Misconception 1: disability is just a lens that one can put on - fact: when thinking of there being a lens, deeply existential aspects of amputation are missed

This paper designates disability as something of the nature of a lens, an optic, a viewpoint, an option, a possibility.

"What, for example, is being assumed about what an individual might want when they are having a prosthetic hand- fitted? Seen through a critical disability lens, it is intriguing to juxtapose the fragmented sense of systems engineering with this corresponding desire to render an idea of a ‘whole’ user."[1]

It is my personal experience, that this type of disability and what it entails, for oneself, body image and socially, is not a lens one can ever put on in the sense of how a lens is used (or take off, as the phrase also implies).

"In terms of proposed uses of the device, detecting rogue androids is not yet a plausible scenario." [2]

It is not an option, but a predicament, a dead-end, a no-way-out situation, it is for life, it is to stay, it is a thing that is bolted on, in a way. The difference between lens vs. lived reality is particularly that of "skin in the game".

The relevant aspect here to consider  is that for the arm amputee, there is no evasion. This brings a range of perceptions that clearly seem to be outside of what a lens can relay.

"Can I axe you a question" is only one of the many aspects one cannot escape.  It never feels different, always same, even though it may grow on you with the years. From that angle, answers to that question may be very markedly different than when seen from "putting a lens on". One thing that is markedly different is that after a few dozen of repeated experiences, you see the next ones coming a lot easier.


As you may be able to imagine, the fact that this type of disability also is embodied plays a large role in this. That means what it means also in a negative sense: generally, even people that share lives with disabled people, even after 20 years, cannot truly comprehend the experience of the disabled person. Or to put it differently: you can stare all you want, but chances are high that you won't get it. I do have a T-shirt design I defined myself, it says "IT ONLY LOOKS LIKE THAT".  It emerged after discussions with friends over the question what you can see, visually, when you look at an arm amputee, and what that possibly does to you. One thing is that another person sees an arm amputee with a healed, clean stump, and from that visual, which is totally pervasive and convincing, not even raising the idea of suspicion it could be any different, that "all is OK except the hand / arm part is missing". So we started by addressing ever present phantom pains, and only from that difference between a visually "peaceful", "healed" appearance and the reality of (among other aspects) permanent pain, the colleague said "oh, it only looks like peaceful / healed but really it is different to you", which we shortened to "it only looks like that", which in itself is, given the many meanings it then can take, anywhere between deeply true and deeply funny.  But to get back to what a "lens" can give you: even when inside this  situation, all kinds of other disability / disfigurement related issues also do not seem to be fully understandable, at least in any rational sense, even to many of us amputees ourselves.

Now, as far as I see it, there is nothing to win, by "trying on a lens".

Because if you go along the "insight" that you get from just staring at the arm amputee, you mostly see (a) a subhuman but not human person that (b) lacks a body part that urgently needs replacement, which may even be re-inforced in your own perception if you ask the amputee and (c) the amputee then says, no, that missing hand part is not the worst, as you then conclude that person surely must be crazy, confirming your first notion that the arm amputee is (a) subhuman and not human. How do I assume this? Have I talked to a number of academic researchers? Have they made any acknowledgement of me being human, or, rather, subhuman? The real risk in this is that a complication of (a) seeing an amputee as truly cognitively impaired subhuman is (d) the fact that we are totally able to discern shit from shinola also when it comes to totally cheap contraptions which are a given seeing as if your predicament (a - d) may not provide for new technical insights either. So the fact that we live on different planets may be seen as having an epistemic anatomy, which also does not seem to be entirely new. The normal Spiel ("she-peel": as in: rewind-play ritual) goes such that the scholarly engineer saves the amputee from being subhuman by building a contraption that does maybe an estimated polemic ~1% of what would be sensible, and that does have a realistic everyday situation correct control recognition rate of around a polemic ~1-51%, works only under dry lab conditions, if at all, requires a polemic ~17 kg motor/battery/computer unit to function or falls apart as it is, and that "only" requires "someone to put in on the market"; the amputee community has a surprisingly large number of desperate and idealistic volunteers to aid as research and test subjects, and the rest will dutifully applaud, as does society, including giving the poor sod a prize for wasting his or her career to such a useless goal, after which we all return to living life as we are used to: prosthetic arms fail so often and so much, that any average arm amputee will be most proficient doing anything without prosthesis simply because even if you have a good one the sucker will require repairs so often that without prosthesis is just how you are going to spend most of the time, and in most instances, most of your life.

Realistic rejection rates are at least around ~85%, which does not even include those that do not show up to interviews or cannot at all be reached for such. And after one has become top proficient doing anything without prosthesis, there is almost no turning back.

I might just write up a nonlinear model that illustrates this in a better way. But this is quite existential, as one still remains embodied and if anything, less is more. Less bulk, less drama (if you ever build a prosthetic arm that is totally no drama to you, let me know, so we can compare notes), less stress, less tense expectation of the next failure to surprise us all, less cost, less skin problems, less sweating, less wear-down of the prosthesis and less damage to the clothes.

Amputees are mostly "whole", as such. What else. There may be differences in perception, sure, but an all-encompassing condition? It may not necessarily have to be a stance one takes - exactly because it looks different. "I do not always feel disabled; after 10 years of "being" "an amputee", I gave that shit up. No room for advancement" (after a quote by Glenn Lignon). What we may need are tools, aids, support, and maybe less stress. What I may want remedied or fixed, when approaching the design and build of my prosthetic arm, is the problem of a functional asymmetry or the problem of reduced compatibility with the surrounding world built for two-handers. In order to achieve that what I need it for, the prosthesis must deliver that: support for activities that are problematic when performed asymmetrically, and support to balance out my other arm. The truly problematic use aspects are repetitive and / or heavy bimanual activities. So the prosthesis must really hold up, be comfortable, deliver high lift / push and grip strengths and be robust, provide reliable grip control under any outside temperature and under heavy sweating, while being easy to fix and repair at home by oneself. And most certainly not any type of truly useless devices such as the LN-4.

So this article appears to entirely miss this existential aspect, particularly if the lens thing is meant as that, and does not put our reality as solid but sometimes less compatible asymmetric individuals.

Lenses, or temporary short glimpses, may be sufficient to make plausible a thing that you do not want. Like, if you get a glimpse of how life is as a person that tries to climb Mount Everest, I may take that lens view, that temporarily adopted short-time aspect, the image of a moment, to re-inforce my already made opinion that I truly do not wish to, myself, go there. A deep or maybe ambiguous dislike may be efficiently re-inforced by using a lens. That would be my reflection on the question, where do I "use" or "employ" lenses, and what do they do to me? They frighten me off. Because the hard and long path towards loving increasingly hard mountain climbs is totally different. I may just get suckered into that, if I take that path, where I have my own skin in the game, but where I totally embody myself in the alpine situation. And really, that has already been said about "simulating disability": that it appears to overly focus on the negative.

  • There is little evidence that simulation exercises bring about positive attitude change[3].
  • Simulation exercises do not simulate the experience of disability[3].

(C) Giphy

Rhetoric question: if engineers were able to actually understand amputees, explain the catastrophe that "prosthetic arms" are in, say, 2020? So any "lens" ever imagined so far also in all likelihood must have failed.

(C) Giphy

The underlying problem may be the total absence of "skin in the game".

Whereas prosthetic solutions built by arm amputees have a lot more practical use, appeal, robustness, adequacy, about them. Like, wearing a "TRS Jaws" gripper does not make me want to search for metaphors or lost critical dialog with sociologists, just to give an educated opinion here. it does take away sorrows though.

Misconception 2: scholars and engineers actually manufacture better prosthetic arms for real work - fact: with a very few exceptions, they do not

The paper is written as if engineers, scholars more precisely, actually manufacture assistive technologies.

"As is obvious, the manufacture of assistive technologies involves the necessary conceptualization of the relationship between technology and the body, but those conceptions differ radically from the notions of prosthetic person-hood that have become a staple feature of work in—broadly speaking—cultural studies. (...) It also appears to invite a disability reading: if the manufacture of a prosthetic limb takes place within contexts that stress division and separation, it is hard to see how the resulting product can be seen as being integral to an individual’s experience as a person with disabilities. (...) Rather, the relationships function through being networked in everyday usage; the limb is a manufactured object, almost certainly made within the frame of the kinds of decision-making outlined above, but it is also a bodily attachment, producer of experiences, historical artifact and object of stare." [1]

A critical point that I should point out is that they do not manufacture these things. They may write up fiction, admitted - but to manufacture? Scholars and engineers, in 2020, by and large, sure seem to imagine building assistive technologies. At least the type that ends up being useful and robust and all, whereas the terms robust or lasting may be missing from this paper.

So in terms of real work and real prosthetic use for such, these types of articles may be seen more as naive fan fiction: they appear to lack any reliable reference to true technical aspects, and, they write about a thing that appears to largely reside inside the imagination. Also, that is not new: people without any actual idea about a thing can still have clear expectations of that thing.

From [4]: "People hardly get in touch with anthropomorphized service robots, besides in the mass media and science fiction. Nevertheless, empirical studies showed that people without real life experience with real robots have expectations towards them [1, 7]. Where do these expectations come from? (...) How does the representation in science fiction and the mass media impact the general attitude naïve users have towards robots and how will it impact the attitude towards the specifically developed robot?"

(C) Giphy

Really, if at all, this paper coarsely seems to approximate an own idea and imagination of prosthetic arms, so it seems to be written from  far away. Instead of "manufacture", a better verb might be "imagine" or "project", "propose", "write texts", or "think up". The issue lies in proper labeling.

There is nothing wrong with science fiction per se, but it does have a rather different audience. Do I wish that prosthetic arm technology was able to efficiently cover up and hide my handicap? How much sense does that wish make given actual technologies and the absolute unwillingness of manufacturers and circus directors alike to adopt hard testing in that domain? How are we not surprised that there is zero development in this domain - my suggestion to take this serious is already six years old.

After all, there seems to be no reasonable or even unreasonable sensible apparent readily available explanation how just 40 years of industrial and academic research made myoelectric control error rates slightly worse (sounds incredible, but you read that right) and not just that: they made these error rates stay, safely, far away from any actually needed very low error rates (read about this subject here). You do have to take that in, before you consider the subject matter at all. Serious manufacturing is an entirely different beast altogether. While I have a body-powered prosthesis with own new three developments two of which we got patented, the manufacturing details of what I wear as "prototypes" are still improving year by year. And my failure error rates with that are far beyond the industry norm, far better. The daily reality of real work is different than the ideal or fantasy of merged technology and humans.

Me, discussing just how, exactly, reality is different from imagined things, may be relevant as the authors of this article make it appear as if they provide sensible content. Even in absence of real experience, people may think their expectations of robots or cyborgs are rooted in real experiences. Isn't science fiction really fascinating in the way it may warp brains that way?

From [4]: "The results of the group discussion about robots in general showed that the participants have expectations towards real robots. These expectations cannot be based on reality, although the participants felt that they do so."

So let me write about a different reality then - the lived reality and real prosthetic arms. Because this paper also makes it appear as if prostheses, and, as I read it, "prosthetic arms", are an actual thing, like, as if there is a world that cares.

Reality is, that for the most part, they are not a thing, as mostly, no one cares. Normal people are not intrinsically interested in subjects such as disability or prosthetic arms.

(C) Gifsoup

Mostly, if anything, we seem to attract or draw the attention (not "care", the "attention") of strange people - if at all. Mostly not the type that cares. So, attention and care - which me might expect from others - are not the same.

As I propose that this is an embodied validated experience, you will understand that just as amputees have no representation in most of that research bulk that appears to be produced with mostly paternalistic intent, so, mostly, a researcher that obsesses over prosthetic arms per se is not above suspicion of being strange, particularly with regard of confusing care and attention. It seems to require a particular mental orientation to select "develop trash stuff labeled as "for amputee"" and have that never work by design, as a calling, or profession. Also, "let me burden the amputee with ridiculous cost and risk" as a mental outset for osseointegration providers, seems rather peculiar to me, to be frank. If the difference between caring and giving attention, between normal and strange people, may not be obvious, then maybe read about the circumstances of Gerhard Aba and his exhibition sponsorship by Otto Bock, or the Cybathlon 2016 and 2020. That stuff clearly  seems to be anything else but straight research or straight development alley under auspices of health care.

Normal people still mostly do not care, they do not wish to exhibit amputees in circus-like arenas, they also do not act as if they do (but really do not) build useful robust prosthetic arm technology. As an example, all of my friends and colleagues had no idea about the Cybathlon 2016, even on the days just after it had gone over our national television - where that event, one may have to believe, was most heavily advertised. They were all entirely oblivious to that being "a thing", and I have many friends with what may be regarded as very good education, and they are in medicine or science or technology. So how come they all look past that, collectively? Most likely, because the moment the word "handicap" or "disability" or such pops up, they do not care. These terms seem to flip the "leave this alone" and "ignore / forget this" switch. These terms alone are almost a guarantee that people look away, scotomize, discard, overlook and dismiss (read here, what Gunter Cloerkes says about this). I should not blame them. It is not their issue. To them, it is a SEP ("somebody else's problem", as introduced or used in Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy).

And since a few years, in my own experience, even the occasional public stare almost stopped totally.

Nowadays, almost all people that permeate public space seem preoccupied with their cell phones or such. When I ride my mountain bike in the alps, over steep gravel trails or such, people do stare - they stare at my bike, because there is no electric motor and virtually all verbal comments relate to the absence of electric motor on my bike, none ever addressed my prosthetic arm in the last three or four years, not at all, not any more. They practically never notice or stare at my prosthetic arm.

So, I can walk around, or ride bike, with a non-covered carbon / steel arm and no one cares about that. I can have my arm stump freely flapping, and no one cares.

That is the normality that we have. No one cares, and no one stares, at least, at the prosthetic arm. If you believe otherwise, your sources may be outdated and if you still cannot tell the difference between staring and caring, then who knows, what is going on.

(C) Giphy

Misconception 3: (warbling) about some dialog and metaphors; fact is, disability and amputation first and foremost is a totally profane thing and there is absolutely no dialog

"In the context of an interdisciplinary critical medical humanities, we want to ask: what might a research space look like that makes room for the combined engineered/imagined body?"[1] - The paper then warbles on about metaphors, "critical" "dialog", and so on and so forth.

Generally, reading too much fiction may lead to just this type of expectation - that in the future, machine-human-merged cyborgs are a given in a way that requires some research into an imagined body.

From [4]: "Previous experience with fictional robots through the media not only increases expectations towards real robots, but it also seems to lead to the fact that all of the participants see a future society including robots as given."

Really, we cannot have anything imagined in terms of prosthetic arms, as we cannot even, yet, mostly, have a truly reliable bare-bones, profane, barbaric, crude version. That stuff just does not exist, has not been built, because it has not been understood. So we wait for that first, right?

(C) Giphy

Fact is, none of the researchers ever really speaks to arm amputees engaged in real work. Fact is, to begin with: there is no real dialog. Because, what is there to talk about. Fact is, daily work with an arm amputation is just as profane as it is without. It is just that: profane. We do not "need space". We "are" already. And physical work is also quite profane, bare-bones, in any academic sense when considering prosthetic arm design and its details, and looking at the studies being made, it apparently is regarded as totally boring. Whereas from my personal view, performing physical work it is certainly necessary, even fulfilling, definitely nothing to lose ones nerves over and most certainly not boring. If you are an engineer and your prosthetic arm does not serve the needs of hard work, simple: make it better. That is all that is asked of you. That is what defines you as an engineer. Always fascinated me.

Why may these blatherings and pretensions, projections and ideations be bad for research? This type of fictional article, and research into non-sensical technology, appear to make it harder for true prosthetic solutions to be recognised and as consequence, harder to be developed as part of research and development. Once a prosthetic research conference is flooded with talks about sensor technology and LED indicators, even a simple mechanical innovation that reduces overall cost to 10% of previous upkeep will likely not interest anyone any more, for reasons far beyond the obvious.

From [4]: "Science fiction made it harder for real robots to be accepted."

The real prosthetic arm needs to reliably and comfortably balance asymmetry for heavy lifts. Once  (and only once) it actually does that, many other questions are answered. Why? For that, it needs a secure grip and perfect function with respect to that, it needs to be sufficiently comfortable at that type of load, and it needs to survive basically forever, because also, we do not have time to spend 2-4 hours a week for repairs. Sure, one needs to understand the concept of constraints to build a useful thing there. The requirements however are as profane as their solutions: simple, affordable, sleek, comfortable and very robust builds. The ones that get there are true engineers, the others, probably not.

I can see quite well that after such a prosthetic base setup has been achieved, a very reliable type of device, that the user can wear and get used to, over a few years at least, may be a great foundation for further work.

Then - but only then-, we could fantasize about what next, how to expand on that. Then, the outside view on such a user may still be massively different than the inside view, as a recent interaction with people that believed in deep body image integration revealed. So, why not start with the profane and technical, and inch your way into a solid base of prosthetic arm function under the constraints of real work, before jumping to any conclusions?

Because it may generate new fears?

From [4]: "Media coverage about real robots might lead to a discussion about technical limitations robotics has to face today. This may eventually arouse new fears among people with no personal experience with robots which, however, can be seen as a chance to generate realistic expectations towards real robots in the public and raise the interest of researchers from other disciplines to be part of the solution".

Then, after all that has been compiled, understood, built, tested, and developed, only then will using a metaphor as a rhetorical tool become clearer.  Because this paper seems to make nothing too clear, it does not blow away clouds of error and sorrow. Really, a metaphor may not be a vehicle to be used for confusion, not in the sense of increasing buzzword bingo. A metaphor, well used, should help to make a difficult or concept clearer, easier to understand [5].

So you may first want to build a prosthetic arm that is as easy, elegant, tight and light, swift and robust, comparable to what riding a very light carbon road bike with a perfect setup for your body size and shape, can do, given ideal circumstances. That is where you may want to start, using a very well set up road bike as your technical metaphor. Only once you reach that level of flying height, of technical proficiency, will it make sense to look around and start making halfways sensible comments. Then, maybe, who knows, invite the ghost in the bottle, the village shaman, to start telling tales.

In detail

Why for the most part Cyborgs really do not exist in 2020 and won't in any near future, at least with respect to prosthetic arms

"Over the last 20 years, a diverse range of scholars working in the humanities have embraced ideas of the ‘augmented’, ‘enhanced’ or ‘prosthetic’ in developing critical approaches to social and cultural phenomena. The terms have aided thinking around not just embodiment and the wider notions of subjectivity and selfhood, but also energised conceptions of history, memory, aesthetics and—conceived of broadly—‘the imagination’, ‘consciousness’ and (especially true of ‘augmented’ of course) ‘reality’. As we will spell out below, from the evocation of cyborgs in contemporary cultural theory to the continued resonance of past atrocities such as slavery and the Holocaust, or from imagined technologized social futures to the permeable boundaries of gender formations, conceptions such as the ‘augmented self ’ or ‘prosthetic imagination’ have animated possibilities in thinking of new configurations of subject and place. It is, however, noticeable that these ideas have not been developed through any particular cooperation with those experts for whom the engineering of augmentation or the design and production of prostheses is a daily undertaking. As is obvious, the manufacture of assistive technologies involves the necessary conceptualization of the relationship between technology and the body, but those conceptions differ radically from the notions of prosthetic person-hood that have become a staple feature of work in—broadly speaking—cultural studies. Our aim here is on one level, then, simple: namely to bring together the questions of theory, metaphor, practice and lived-body experiences that are raised when the distinct disciplinary approaches surrounding ‘augmentation’ or ‘prosthesis’ are made to encounter one another. We will focus on prosthesis specifically because, of all the terms that fall under the loose heading of ‘augmentation’, it is that which produces the most meanings, with ‘prostheses’, ‘prosthesis’ and ‘prosthetic’ all denoting subtly different configurations. In design and engineering, prostheses are literal objects, often made to order for a diverse range of clients; in cultural studies, the word creates multiple resonances around augmentation and enhancement, both of individuals and non-embodied states."[1]

Screw metaphors, if the substrate just does not work. It is as profane as that. I suggest to start with something that truly works - and then start asking questions that remain. The hosed arm and its prosthetic arm that balances it out comfortably and reliably as outlined above are not social or cultural phenomena as much as they are practical and profane things. There is no particular social or cultural aesthetic of the common kitchen knife or of the common garbage bag either.

Conversely, rather than sitting down and building a better body powered prosthetic arm for starters, to then dive into a dialog to find out that no metaphors are needed then, that engineering approach is left untouched.

The reason is because it may be truly difficult. Now, let us examine some of these hopes of merged cyborg and metaphors: they do not even get "bionic" prosthetic hand grips right.




The lid does not come off - the grip fails again.

(C) SRF Swiss Television

The clothespin falls off. Also, this is really profane. Nothing there to build useful nice and enlightening metaphors on.

(C) SRF Swiss Television

The mouth as substitute for a prosthetic hand? ... metaphors?

(C) SRF Swiss Television

That bread loaf had to experience the wrath of a really sophisticated prosthetic arm here. Imagine they want to fry eggs or make salad. I say that this stuff is profane as it is.

I do not blame anyone for that, the technical deficiencies are totally real, I suffered from a number of these myself  - but, metaphors, really, that will save that day?

(C) SRF Swiss Television

In some sense, the makers of stories about amputees, fiction, such as the paper discussed here [1], seem to follow us, maybe however, at some distance. But, are they even looking?

(C) Giphy

Even putting a bolt into the stump bone in a process termed "osseointegration" is nothing close to true "augmentation". It may be seen as a desperate attempt to render the predicament less dire, less hopeless, for the selected and chosen amputee, that ostensibly has problems with the socket, and that may have some 200 000 USD lying around for this type of typically privately paid surgery. You get even a few new sockets for far less though.

Now, socket use seems to have it that we have to clean our stump skin at least every few days, but with osseointegration stomata possibly oozing pus, over hours rather than weeks, and with an urgent need to disinfect these chronic deep wounds at least around twice daily or so, and really keep them clean, by also staying away from public swimming pools, maybe the addressing of amputee problems is more one of a shift rather than one of getting rid of problems, of actually solving them to make life easier as such.

So, the amputee life problems are not resolved but shifted, instead of some superficial problems you now get deep ones, costly ones, and maybe, with osteomyelitis or implant fractures, quite serious ones, with attached extreme costs and attached perisurgical risks.

(C) Osseointegration Australia

If hand transplants are regarded as "treatment" of arm amputation, one may have to critically add that there, problems of arm amputation are not at all solved, they are also "just" shifted, from practical everyday and appearance issues to very serious health and serious cost related issues.

(C) Wired

You could argue that to some degree, it is not so much the sophistication of the prosthetic build, but the adequate use of one, that currently is at large.

There is nothing spectacular about my own use of my prosthetic arm, as I am one of the few people that may be able to wear a truly robust prosthetic arm day after day, without repairs for maybe up to nine months, and get a lot of action out of it - so in terms of the ratio of prosthetic use and non-use days, maybe over 10 years, I may have accumulated a surprisingly high percentage - which may baffle researchers.

Here, I sharpen a pencil by rotating it with an electric drill, and by holding a pen sharpener with my body-powered prosthetic hook.

Prostheses such as prosthetic arms are, as one can show, far away from "augmentation". They may reduce or mitigate the damage a bit, admitted - but no one builds augmentations.

A lens? Are we temporary material?

"We have also chosen prosthesis because of its clear links to disability, which we define here as a set of experiences and interactions with environments that possess intrinsic value in their own terms and challenge normative and ableist concepts of selfhood and community. During the foundational period of critical studies in the 1990s, seminal work by scholars such as Lennard J Davis and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson focused on ideas of the ‘normal’ and ‘ordinary’, highlighting the often-hidden prejudicial values behind these apparently neutral terms. In the last 15 years especially, the subject has turned from these processes of unveiling to express the ways in which different bodies challenge assumptions about normalcy, utility and the perception of integrated selfhood. As Michael Davidson observes of the relationship between disability and aesthetics, ‘Disability aesthetics foregrounds the extent to which the body becomes thinkable when its totality can no longer be taken for granted, when the social meanings attached to sensory and cognitive values cannot be assumed’. In figuring prosthetics, ideas of the ‘totality’ of the body and the ‘social meanings’ that accrue from these are thrown into sharp relief. Owning or using prostheses signals disability to a majority non-disabled culture, but under whose terms and how? And does it also signal technology in the same way? Whether the perceived absence of a limb is compensated for by an understood presence of a designed and produced alternative is an issue more complex than it might appear. Not all prostheses are replacements, for example (the limb may never have existed in the first place), and there are many different types of design and technology. Staying alive to Davidson’s reminder about what ‘cannot be assumed’, we are guided here by the knowledge that disability acts as a refractive lens through which to read the interrelationship between the body and the technology that interacts with it."[1]

You can try to get an arm amputee to speak, or write, or express experiences otherwise. But if you do lack skin in the game, and mostly, you do, there is simply no way you will ever "see", understand.

That is not just my predicament. It may be mostly yours.

I do not feel there is a lot to negotiate from within any complex prosthesis-body relationship. Also, society does not care. Either I wear the hook, or I do not. That extends to other "prosthetic enhancements": either I wear these glasses or I do not. Either I walk, or, take the bus, or, ride the bike, or, I drive the car. Either I use the cutlery or I eat by hand.

How does any higher level of complexity arise here? A meta-level of metaphorical significance?

(C) Giphy

So here, you may finally recognize yourself, as different, and in search of a lens. Or mirror.

(C) Gifak-net

Ultimately, a prosthetic arm is mapped in our user brains as simple tool.

They may be mostly obnoxious and hated, despised and abandoned - and only under ideal circumstances do they seem to be worn regularly where upon the brain may map these as, gasp, "prosthetic arms". Not as "own hand", not as "rubber hand illusion", but as a different entity. They seem to be mapped as what they are: prosthetic arms [6].

(C) Giphy

The text suggests that "We have also chosen prosthesis because of its clear links to disability" [1].

Alright, so using prosthetic arms may signify disability, so we should not wear them as sign of absent link to disability?

(C) Live Leak

Here are a few "lens" views on my bikes. These adaptations are not prosthetic adaptations but bike adaptations. Is there also no link to disability here?

There is no way we can offer "lenses" for a number of other experiences. The authors of that article chose "prosthesis", not "amputation", as their focus.

So, may be rework that focus.

Prosthetised bodies

"In developing this thinking, we wish to argue for the many benefits that accrue from processes of an interdisciplinary dialogue between cultural/literary studies and engineering, and chart how these then provoke potentially innovative categories of health, disability and the body. In the context of an interdisciplinary critical medical humanities, we want to ask: what might a research space look like that makes room for the combined engineered/imagined body? How can the designed/produced object, and the theorised/abstracted/represented self, extend what we can say about grounded and conceptualised selfhood? How might the details of each discipline, whether (for example) the vital technical specifics of engineering or the picking apart of language or trope in cultural studies, allow for an understanding of differing methodologies in which augmentation or enhancement might be framed? We want to structure our answers to these questions in three parts: first, through an exploration of the manner in which cultural theory has taken up the idea of the prosthetised body; second, reading those engineering and design methodologies that illustrate the processes of producing prosthetic technologies; and finally, outlining the outcomes from these interdisciplinary encounters that can inform the multistrand critical approaches that increasingly characterise cultural research undertaken on health and disability. While our examinations have to be necessarily limited, we believe that the shape of the arguments we make points to broader possibilities of integrating humanities and engineering scholarship within the developing discipline of the medical humanities."[1]

Look, shit happens, you try to fix it, you cope with the remaining rest of the shit. End of story. Again, (mostly) no one cares.

You can leave the self-hood alone as long as you lack even remotely useful prosthetic arms that work also under harsh conditions for extended periods of time. If anything, prosthetic arms and their state in 2020 with regard to the separated worlds of industry, academic research, insurances and real user experience, are mostly (with few exceptions) a great example of how things may end up bad, for everyone. If anything, medical humanities as a field may wish to shed light on the various social values and the open and hidden stereotypes within these groups, that may have led to that status quo, the different worlds, the split if not segregated realities. The dynamics between these players assumedly remained stable over many decades, so we may be looking for stable attitudes.

That may explain also just how most prosthetic components totally and entirely suck, at least from a user view, when taking robustness, cost, comfort and constraints into account. If you still have any sparks left, try to walk that off by reading about CE markings in context of prosthetic arm technology. Just shows how much is left to do, to even just try to approximate a better language use in advertising. As example: only once you have to explicitly advertise a body-powered setup as, say, "certified to last 4 days under exposure level D" will there be at least a minimal incentive to change anything in terms of components and build. Because, 4 days, guys, that is not a real lot for what they (may want to make) believe to be "robust".

(C) Giphy

(C) Giphy

The problem of amputation-related double binds really is that of non-disabled people

"Augmentation, amputation and replacement have histories as long as congenital physical difference has existed and cultures have intervened in embodiment and health. And across time periods and cultures metaphor has worked to give such difference and interventions meaning. In his history of automata in the Western imagination, Minsoo Kang notes that from Classical times ideas about the technological connections between human and non-human have always ‘functioned as conceptual chameleon[ s]’ and as mechanisms through ‘which Western culture has pondered the very nature and boundaries of humanity’. Scholarship on disability over the last 40 years has focused on such ideas of conceptual meaning and boundaries. While social model theories located technology as central to disabling environments that create disability as a ‘problem’ (eg, architecture that fails to take into account issues of access or the development of complex online systems that exclude those with specific disabilities), the rise of cultural disability studies as an academic subject area from the 1990s onwards revised the idea that disability, read simply in terms of absence, lack or loss, was corrected by technological intervention. The disabled body, as James Porter notes, operates within a classic double bind, appearing as ‘too much a body, too real, too corporeal’, but because of this difference also ‘too little a body: a body that is deficiently itself, not quite a body in the full sense of the word, not real enough’. Such an ambivalence informs much work on the interaction between disability and technology: new developments in smart prostheses, neural implants, exoskeletons or cosmetic augmentation have prompted research that reads the complex status of the body’s boundaries as it meets technological intervention in terms of conceptions of selfhood, interactions with community and status as metaphor."[1]


How has Western "culture" "pondered" any boundaries of humanity, when one looks at the current industrial componentry of body-powered prosthetic arms versus its promise?

Now, how to break this gently?

My body certainly is not too real or not real enough. It is just real the right amount. There is no "too little a body, too much a body".

If anything is entirely off, it is the word of academics and developers that are lost in their own "concept" space.

My concept of selfhood certainly covers the view that I build my own prosthetic parts, and that I obtained great support for doing so, after years of search and dialog resulted in the clear fact that no one else cares, or, has the means, or, the materials, or, the interest, to: Build. A. Simple. Robust. Comfortable. Prosthetic. Arm. For. Real. Work.  And do not start elsewhere - do not avoid to actually build, do not make it complicated, do make it really robust, do not avoid making it perfectly comfortable. If that bores you, also make it pass the appearance test.

Neither prosthetic technicians, nor, insurances, nor, engineers in prosthetic device industry, nor, academic researchers, appear to knew a lot about that. There are no double binds here - I needed the technology, they did not have it, I went after that myself. And it sure turns out our society contains lots of people that do care, and that do have solutions - elsewhere. The art then lies in coordinating this.

Transhumanism as a lost cause

"In substantial articles, both Vivian Sobchack and Sarah S Jain have addressed what Sobchack calls the ‘seductive’ nature of prosthesis and augmentation understood as metaphors or tropes. ‘The scandal of the metaphor’, Sobchack notes, ‘is that it has become a fetishized and ‘unfleshed-out’ catchword that functions vaguely as the ungrounded and ‘floating signifier’ for a broad and variegated cultural discourse on technoculture that includes little of these prosthetic realities’. Jain is similarly concerned about the ways in which the ‘proliferation’ of the term ‘has overburdened it’. As she notes, ‘theories themselves can be, after all, both enabling and wounding’. Specifically, Jain explores the structures through which ‘the disavowal and simultaneous objectification of the disabled body is at stake in the term ‘prosthesis’’, processes often lost in the formation of the words as free-floating category. Embodiment is central to the tensions that exist between readings of prosthesis as metaphor or materiality (the latter is often experiential of course, and not simply ‘read’). As Sherryl Vint has shown in her study of technology and subjectivity in contemporary science fiction, ‘Western culture remains attached to a concept of self as disembodied, a concept of self that has important consequences for how we understand the relationship between humans and the rest of the material world’. What Vint terms ‘the (impossible) desire to escape the vicissitudes of the body and occupy the place of self-mastery’ stems from the heritage of Cartesian dualism, where an asserted power of the mind to transcend the (usually degraded) body has been played out in multiple forms. Vint has no particular focus on prosthesis or disability in her book, but her insight helps frame the methods through which the ideas that surround prosthesis operate. Where, then, is the body in the configurations of ‘prosthesis’ outlined above? It appears, both usefully and problematically, to be wherever one might look for it: situated yet diffuse, present and absent at the same time. Possibly a way to locate it more meaningfully is not to keep concentrating on the flesh of the body as a whole, but rather to focus on the ‘the prosthetic’ itself—the object that emerges through processes of conception, vision and design to production and use. How might we read the body, in all its different forms, through the specifics of engineering?"[1]

As long as you cannot say what a prosthetic arm is, you cannot say what a body is either, right? Given that the body-mind duality on one hand and the body-prosthesis duality on the other both may lack tangible substrates anywhere out there, does not that leave us somewhere lost without argument?

My body is clearly my body, and the prosthetic arm is something else. Here, the body is that that bears the interface, that abrades, that blisters, that screams, that bleeds, that has iron hard muscle spasms and pains, that burns with ice cold phantom pain, under the use of prosthesis. That is clearly what the body is. The prosthesis is what breaks and gets shredded.

There are reasons why, when I wear a prosthetic arm, I remain quite aware of that circumstance [7], for obvious reasons, I wonder if you also happened upon them. You may want to provide a list of your experiences first.

The disabled body can be cleaned up and tidied up, but in popular culture, and we are really talking fiction here, go deep into any real application realm and you will find decay, damage, rust, sweat, dust, pain and smell, even torn down skin, flesh, blood. And that also may be OK.

Where is what we may term to be "the body", really, in reality, in any configurations of such prosthesis? Suffering, probably, likely, maybe, for sure.

Now, real prosthetic arm use produces known - not fictional - traces and damages on the body.

Here is a mechanical or friction rash, as encountered after maybe 1 hour (!) of wearing a prosthetic arm for beginner level ballroom dancing class. It burns and itches and takes about 2 days (!) to heal (during which  wearing the prosthesis is not such a great idea). That, want it or not, is more or less the current state of top-notch commercial technology. If you ask me, demand of me, that I wear this all the time, maybe to make me appear or look "more human"? You know how much or little that makes you "human"?

Let us do this short Voight-Kampff test with you - this is  my stump after 1 day of "light office work" wearing an iLimb myoelectric arm, do you think me wearing the prosthetic arm for longer is recommended? How you go about this question tests you in what may be termed a Voight-Kampff test. Whether you want it or not.

WP_20140505_16_50_09_Pro (1)

WP_20140505_16_49_59_Pro (1)





What, in essence, is engineering?

"Within engineering, ‘design’ is a broad term that covers a spectrum of activities involved in developing any artefact, from the largely creative (‘art and design’) to the predominantly analytical (‘engineering design’). There has long been a debate about whether design is a ‘science of the artificial’ amenable to laws that will always lead to good design, or a more intuitive process of ‘reflection-in- action’,  where designs evolve through the application of experience and intuition. In practice, as demonstrated by Louis Bucciarelli’s ethnographic study of engineering design, these approaches are not mutually exclusive, and different stages of the design process, different products or even different parts of a product may require more of one approach or the other.15 Irrespective of where on this spectrum a given design falls, all designs are concerned with the artificial: the outcome of a design process is never ‘natural’ or purely accidental."[1]

It is, from my view, a good idea to start "engineering" with the basics.

Just build something that works, and we will take it from there.

Without engineers, science is just philosophy.

(C) Giphy

Only a predominance of use over non-use days will make a prosthetic arm a proficiently used tool that finds its way into the fluent corners of dynamic activity. If you spend 90% of your days not wearing the prosthesis, you will be proficient in doing everything without such a thing on. So if ever you want a proficient user, start with a technical predominance of the device comfortably, reliably, affordably and smoothly functioning, under all relevant ambient conditions.

Design constraints for prosthetic arms are serious, and these may be the true obstacles for engineers. These constraints seem to contain gripper precision and design, including a detailed caring for grip surface angles and degrees of freedom, weight and center of gravity, speed, the materials used (including some understanding of a role of 3D-printing), well engineered comfort aspects (size and fit, interface surfaces), modularity as advantage in any differently funded prosthetic arm use domain, and the relevance of building technology the user can fix.

What happens when we really unfocus?

"One of Bucciarelli’s key observations is that engineering design progresses not as a series of predefined steps, but as a socially negotiated process in which different individuals frame problems and apply methods with which they are familiar in order to address them. In place of a fixation on ‘the object as a thing in itself ’ (a prosthetic limb, for example), he stresses ideas of vision, harmony and ‘a cultural matrix’. Where it might be expected that an engineer will hone in on the fine details of a design, Bucciarelli stresses the need to ‘unfocus’, and to then ‘start with a broad canvas, hold suspect the categories and relations we unconsciously accept today, and seek […] evidence of relations in the making and using’ of engineered products.16 As Graham Pullin notes in his foundational study design meets disability, this can exacerbate the tension between the creative and the analytical approaches to design. Pullin notes that the development of medical devices, including prosthetics and other assistive technologies, is dominated by engineering designers, who tend to adopt a technical perspective in which the product is purely functional, intended to perform given tasks within given constraints: ‘Traditionally, design for disability has paid more attention to the clinical than the cultural diversity within any group. The same prostheses, wheelchair, and communication devices are often offered to people with a particular disability, whether they are seventeen or seventy years old, and regardless of their attitudes, towards their disability or otherwise’."[1]

In the domain of current commercially available prosthetic arms, I am not sure we want society to draw up a cultural matrix, and leave it up to the engineer to hone in on fine details.

I am pretty sure it would have to be the other way around.

There is so much to be left desired, that it will take a massive engineering approach to address all of these rather profane and basic aspects, not some fine detail honing, by the engineers, first, and foremost, and predominantly.

In my experience, the cultural matrix that appears to surround the wider approach to artistically prototyping a prosthetic arm can be at least a bit of fun, in terms of exploring it - but really, once you get the relevant technical bits right, the cultural matrix and all the shenanigans stay behind, and there is almost no looking back.


What happens when we really focus on the subdivided tasks?

"Within this subdivided nature of any complex engineering project, different individuals may well deal with different aspects of the body. For example, the designer of a socket to fit a prosthetic is concerned with the shape and structure of the body; the designer of software to interpret electromyography signals will be more concerned with the signals generated by myoelectric activities and the subcutaneous positioning of nerves and muscle fibres; and the designers of the joints and actuation of a prosthetic will be interested in the propagation of forces through the body, and the strain this places on different parts of the body. As a recent Royal Academy of Engineering report into the work of systems engineering puts it: ‘Systems that work do not just happen – they have to be planned, designed and built. There are many ways of formalising what is half an art and half a process; […] successive stages of partitioning, so that the task is broken down into manageable chunks […] successive stages of integration, bringing the chunks together to create the working system’."[1]

Yes, I am always interested in the strain on the body.

How is it possible? Who can sum it up?

How come I can fix my wrist watch, when the watchmaker workshop says they cannot? What all, were you to enlist the single steps, went wrong to lead to that? Who breaks down what, and where are the manageable chunks? Imagine that there is a Cybathlon Watchmaker Series, and you have 2 days to equip your "pilot". And you cannot ask the watchmaker, they already said no way.

How can you juggle absent engineering and absent understanding?

"What, for example, is being assumed about what an individual might want when they are having a prosthetic hand-fitted? Seen through a critical disability lens, it is intriguing to juxtapose the fragmented sense of systems engineering with this corresponding desire to render an idea of a ‘whole’ user. It is a formation distinctly different from the porous or elastic body configured in humanities criticism, one where an idea of ‘the prosthetic’ might be made to connect to a totalising system such as ‘memory’. It also appears to invite a disability reading: if the manufacture of a prosthetic limb takes place within contexts that stress division and separation, it is hard to see how the resulting product can be seen as being integral to an individual’s experience as a person with disabilities."[1]

Hard to see anything there, really.

"What do you tell the arm amputee that stands at the random pedestrian redlight waiting for that to turn green, or, waiting at a random bus stop? - Nothing. He has been told everything already."

So,  I suggest that if you build something that falls apart, or causes other lack of use, like, every 2-3 days, the user frustration will grow incrementally and ultimately lead to a massive overhang of prosthesis-free life experience over device use experience. By 12 months into the process of trying to make a crap piece of prosthesis attractive to its user, the typical user may have had a total of 50 actual prosthetic use hours, versus 12 months minus 50 hours of life experience without wearing the contraption, most likely leading to total disillusionment on both sides. And that is a very, very realistic scenario. The typical prosthetist and the typical component manufacturer will deny any wrongdoing for many reasons - leaving the amputee in the problematic situation of experiencing serious problems, having to address serious problems, having to single-handedly solve serious problems that otherwise no one seems to be willing to acknowledge or address. After that, also the prosthetist and the manufacturer will find themselves deeply disappointed, particularly once relatively easy to fix mistakes pertaining to very simple mechanic or build principles are identified as problem. Things do not get better from thereon out.

Only if you build a prosthetic arm that I can wear, real work or precise use requirements, sweat and bad weather and all, and that holds up, will I ever have a chance to experience continuous use. Definitely after maybe some five years of such experience of continuous availability did it feel like the use of the prosthetic arm as a tool felt halfways natural. So only after that would I feel that the above paragraph could be read again.

So, really good prosthetics is the start of this all. And you most likely do not have that.

If what is done is not prosthetics (defined by what I can wear for at least a year), then it is probably something else, altogether.

Who knows what goals are in absence of means?

"In the case of prosthetics for example, decisions might be made as to whether the goal is to ‘restore’ a limb following an amputation, or to re-establish specific functions, the latter process one that might be achieved by means other than 'replacement'. These two possible eventualities are not the same, and the body that falls under discussion as a result of choices made in such circumstances is one that cannot be said to be singular. It is impacted differently and with different results."[1]

If you cannot build a prosthetic limb, does it matter whether that is "not re-establishing of a specific function" or "not replacement of a limb", though?

This may be illustrated by the great philosophy joke regarding another different absence:

The French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre was sitting in a cafe when a waitress approached him: “Can I get you something to drink, Monsieur Sartre?” - Sartre replied, “Yes, I’d like a cup of coffee with sugar, but no cream”. - Nodding agreement, the waitress walked off to fill the order and Sartre returned to working. A few minutes later, however, the waitress returned and said, “I’m sorry, Monsieur Sartre, we are all out of cream — how about with no milk?”

What does adding buzzwords help?

"Working from these observations, it is our contention that the meeting of engineering and humanities methodologies can offer a productive platform for future thinking on both made objects and the ways in which they are constructed in terms of cultural meaning. "[1]

Fact-check: it is 2020 and the engineers cannot even build a solid robust comfortable endurable body-powered arm yet. So it does not matter whom they meet. They may meet humanity methodologists, but none the wiser.

"Developments in assistive technologies for those with disabilities, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics are all future moments that can benefit from interactions that are produced when we engineer the imagination in the ways we explore here. " [1]

There currently exists no knowledge base, like, at all, from which any AI system or actually living person could draw sufficient knowledge to solve the aforementioned technical prosthetic arm related problems. So, not sure where this is supposed to be going.

Before one can "engineer imagination", trying to keep friction rash down may be a great first thing to "tackle".

"Alison Kafer has observed—critically— that, for many, ‘a ‘good’ future naturally and obviously depends upon the eradication of disability’, and that ‘that this kind of ‘elsewhere’, one without disability, is one ‘we’ all want’. " [1]

Agreed, so let us ignore the disability term, and name things differently.

"But an interaction between engineering and critical disability studies can be exactly the kind of platform that does conceive of disability futures in positive terms. Understanding technologies in the ways that we hope are suggested by our intervention here is a process that can both celebrate engineering expertise and respect the situated expertise it receives in the lives of individuals with disabilities. "[1]

Once you actually address the purely technical problems so they are solved and gone, I am sure you will also find that the world truly looks different. So, we may have to try that first.

"The details in new designs of bespoke prosthetic limbs, with ultrasound technology, electronically measured skin tone or three-dimensional printing, allow for more sophisticated conceptions of cultural embodiment through ever-evolving iterations of the ‘artificial’..." [1]

How can we really know what this means, if they never built a single instance of a prosthetic arm that survives a single week in real life? And if they are at it already, where in that list of buzz-words are 5G/6G, satellites, vaccinations, and anything containing magnet hover transport technology?

".... while the idea of space inherent within AI shapes reconfigurations of social formations as networks and assemblages and the critical meanings we make of them."[1]

This seems to be entirely non-sensical.

Even William Gibson in Neuromancer managed to tie his stuff up a lot more coherently.

"As an example of this latter point, how might we read contemporary cultural theory on the body through the shapes that current engineering software use to process data." [1]

These shapes are largely non-congruent in the most encompassing sense, so the actual answer to this question is "not at all". The "shapes" that software uses to process data? Really want to look at that?

"Or read the decision trees central to machine learning’s processing of data next to the ‘arboreal/rhizomatic’ distinction pivotal in the thinking of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari theory that underpins much contemporary thought on posthuman bodies? " [1]

The popular use of "NOT", "XOR", "AND" and "OR" also in decision trees also may benefit from more cultural embodiment. Or, maybe, dance out "discriminant analysis" algorithms for better bodily expressions. Consider that this could just be totally scattered in terms of associating thought, nothing else. A more comprehensive overarching "rubber hand illusion", which it self seems to be an illusion?

"Writing on the boundaries of embodiment, Shildrick stresses the value of thinking through the disabled body using the ‘Deleuzian reading of connectivity’ and especially ‘the term assemblage’. Advancing her argument, Shildrick notes that Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘characterization of assemblages’ was in part enabled through a process of recognising their status of ‘desiring machines’ within a platform of technology. Shildrick does not develop a specific focus on the detailed workings of technology as she explores the meaning of prosthetics and supplementarity, but it is perfectly possible to see ways in which critical engineering methodologies could add to her theoretical approaches—matching her sense of ‘re-imagining’ prostheses—towards the boundaries and limits of the body. What, we want to ask, might the consequences be of a decision to orient criticism that way?"[1]

Wild, right?

Just build a simple, perfectly fitting and well functioning tool that deserves the tag "prosthetic arm" and wait for a few years until the user got totally comfortable with it.

Then, reconsider.

If you cannot remedy it, make it go away some other way?

In absence of any truly modern developments in an integral sense, how can you fantasize to exert "criticism"? What, if what you feel a need to "criticize", has not even been built yet?

"Ultimately such terms return to the body, the technologies we bring to them and how we make meaning of this interaction. They form the scaffold for a critical practice that can be about both the theorised and situated nature of health and disability. If, as David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder assert in their seminal disability studies work Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse, ‘the prostheticized body is the rule, not the exception’ in a contemporary culture criss-crossed by connections of technology and subjectivity, then it should be clear that criticism requires the perspectives of both the humanities and sciences in reading the entanglements that are created as a result. Given that individuals from all the various communities we have mentioned here are deeply invested in creating positive disability experiences, we see every reason why their work—in all its diversity—should be read in a productive combination that imagines engineers even as it engineers the imagination." [1]

It will probably be a cold day in hell until research brings a new "technology to the body" in any type of meaning that relates to a prosthetic arm that truly performs for real work, heavy weights, precise manipulation under sweaty and dynamic conditions, where the user is not perpetually glued to the repair bench.

Until then, no entanglement risks appear to be relevant either.

The sheer profanity of a body-powered steel hook makes it great to serve as "transhumanist" tool in that I can flip the hot meat in the frying pan "as is". Eat that : )

But, maps that lack an earth or mapped out territory are not simulans, but simulacra. The type of design imagined in this paper [1] seems to at least vaguely target "design fiction" before actually discussing anything related to real prosthetic limbs, particularly, arms.

From  [2]: (...) In design fiction, the magic circle is a fictional world within which speculative prototypes, where their users, can plausibly exist. (...) The term ‘diegetic prototype’ has its origins in David Kirby’s research into how science informs and is represented in cinema, where the diegesis is the interior of any given story world [6]. Thus, for HCI research, design fiction is not a means to directly evaluate a particular user interaction but rather consider a world in which that interaction makes sense to the prospective user. Thus design fiction opens up a discursive space between the researcher and prospective users to consider emergent interaction design [1]. (...) Like many techniques that plot current trajectories in order to create compelling future visions as a means to reflect on our present, the ability of design fictions to perform as rhetorical tools is generally attributed to the plausibility of the worlds they present. If we consider dictionary meanings of plausible, it is synonymous with ‘something that is not obviously untrue’. However, design fictions are untruths by their very nature so a successful design fiction should strive to be ‘not obviously untrue’ notwithstanding the fact that at its heart is intentionally, and fundamentally, untrue. This contradiction creates tension, a tension stemming from any design fiction’s intention to showcase unreal worlds in a manner that strives to appear real [8]. The properties that can influence the relationships between these factors are at the behest of the speculative designer’s crafting of any given design fiction world. (...) Design fictions are often nested with different levels of narrative to produce a ‘russian doll rhetoric’ that can be used to evoke particular discourses. (...)

So the overall subject this paper [1] should be filed under is not prosthetics, but "prosthetic simulacra".

I am not saying that dream worlds are necessarily bad, not at all - but do make that distinction. And then, still, consistency and association to actual aspects prevail also in well written fiction books. I really liked Neuromancer by William Gibson. There may be a lot to learn from that.

Technical right below elbow amputee issues reading

Publication [link] [8]

[1] R. Holt and S. Murray, "Prosthesis and the engineered imagination: reading augmentation and disability across cultural theory, representation and product design," Medical humanities, p. medhum--2018, 2019.
  title={Prosthesis and the engineered imagination: reading augmentation and disability across cultural theory, representation and product design},
  author={Holt, Raymond and Murray, Stuart},
  journal={Medical humanities},
  publisher={Institute of Medical Ethics}
[2] M. Sturdee, P. Coulton, J. G. Lindley, M. Stead, H. Ali, and A. Hudson-Smith, "Design fiction: How to build a Voight-Kampff machine," in Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2016, pp. 375-386.
  title={Design fiction: How to build a Voight-Kampff machine},
  author={Sturdee, Miriam and Coulton, Paul and Lindley, Joseph G and Stead, Mike and Ali, Haider and Hudson-Smith, Andy},
  booktitle={Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems},
[3] S. French, "Simulation exercises in disability awareness training: A critique," Disability, Handicap & Society, vol. 7, iss. 3, pp. 257-266, 1992.
  title={Simulation exercises in disability awareness training: A critique},
  author={French, Sally},
  journal={Disability, Handicap \& Society},
  publisher={Taylor \& Francis}
[4] U. Bruckenberger, A. Weiss, N. Mirnig, E. Strasser, S. Stadler, and M. Tscheligi, "The good, the bad, the weird: Audience evaluation of a “real” robot in relation to science fiction and mass media," in International Conference on Social Robotics, 2013, pp. 301-310.
  title={The good, the bad, the weird: Audience evaluation of a “real” robot in relation to science fiction and mass media},
  author={Bruckenberger, Ulrike and Weiss, Astrid and Mirnig, Nicole and Strasser, Ewald and Stadler, Susanne and Tscheligi, Manfred},
  booktitle={International Conference on Social Robotics},
[5] R. Wood, Metaphor and Belief in The Faerie Queene, Springer, 1997.
  title={Metaphor and Belief in The Faerie Queene},
  author={Wood, Rufus},
[6] R. O. Maimon Mor and T. R. Makin, "Is an artificial limb embodied as a hand? Brain decoding in prosthetic limb users," Plos Biology, vol. 18, iss. 6, p. e3000729, 2020.
  title={Is an artificial limb embodied as a hand? Brain decoding in prosthetic limb users},
  author={Maimon Mor, Roni O and Makin, Tamar R},
  journal={Plos Biology},
  publisher={Public Library of Science San Francisco, CA USA}
[7] Unknown bibtex entry with key []
[8] W. Schweitzer, M. J. Thali, and D. Egger, "Case-study of a user-driven prosthetic arm design: bionic hand versus customized body-powered technology in a highly demanding work environment," Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation, vol. 15, iss. 1, p. 1, 2018.
  title={Case-study of a user-driven prosthetic arm design: bionic hand versus customized body-powered technology in a highly demanding work environment},
  author={Schweitzer, Wolf and Thali, Michael J and Egger, David},
  journal={Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation},
  publisher={BioMed Central}

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Prosthesis and the engineered imagination: reading augmentation and disability across cultural theory, representation and product design [review]; published 16/07/2020, 14:28; URL:

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1611198437, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Prosthesis and the engineered imagination: reading augmentation and disability across cultural theory, representation and product design [review]}}, month = {July},year = {2020}, url = {}}