At MIT’s Center for Extreme Bionics, Professor Hugh Herr and his team of researchers are working miracles. Through his own determination and scientific prowess, Herr overcame the loss of his lower legs after a tragic 1982 climbing accident. Today, he’s abolishing the debilitating physical and neurological handicaps afflicting humanity.
In a recent interview for Outside Magazine, author Todd Balf uncovered not just a story of technology curing disabilities, but a tale of one courageous man’s crusade to advance the human condition.
“His outrage at the unnecessary suffering from disability is fiercely personal,” writes Balf of Herr. The experience of evolving from handicapped to able-bodied is what drives Herr, who presents his breakthroughs to business leaders, technologists, and medical professionals. Currently, he is working on “a breathtaking $100 million, five-year proposal focused on paralysis, depression, amputation, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease.” The beneficiaries – as seen in his life-changing TED Talk that’s been viewed more than 7.5 million times – will not only be the millions who will regain their ability to walk, live, and learn again, but any organization invested in achieving the unimaginable.
“Technology has removed the shackles of disability,” proclaimed Herr at the recent VMWare 2017 conference where, through live visuals and inspiring stories, he revealed his lab’s groundbreaking work extending human physicality. On the cusp of reversing paralysis through the use of synthetic spinal cords, Herr and his team have even set their sights on curing humanity’s lack of empathy. “If we increase human empathy by 30 percent, would we still have war?” Herr asks. “We may not.”
These proposals may seem radical, but the hope of realizing their potential resides with Professor Hugh Herr and his team. Herr coped with his impairment by becoming the foremost leader in his field. Now, he’s paying it forward by ensuring that technology will eradicate handicaps and redefine human capabilities.