E. Paul Zehr


On his book Inventing Iron Man: The Possibility of a Human Machine

Cover Interview of November 25, 2011

In a nutshell

Inventing Iron Man is a kind of sequel to my earlier book Becoming Batman.  That book was about asking how far can our biology take us toward the performance of the ultimately-trained Batman. With Inventing Iron Man the focus is on amplifying human ability with technology and the very question of how we interface with all our technology in the first place.

We have some pretty clunky interfaces (I am using one right now—it’s called a “keyboard”) when we use technology. If the Iron Man suit of armor existed we would never be able to control it with the conventional ways we use technology. Instead I suggest that the Iron Man suit would need to be directly connected to the brain and spinal cord of the user. It would have to be the most complex “brain machine interface” ever developed.

I illustrate this concept using ideas about how the nervous system works, and how things can adapt and change as a result of changes in activity. There really are fewer bigger changes in activity than riding around in an articulated, instrumented, and motorized suit of high-tech armor connected directly to your mind.