Harator boy gets new chance at life thanks to medical breakthrough
Haratrian Sun, 11.25.698
Just two years ago, Steffinn Alhock couldn’t imagine going to school or socializing with other children. Steffinn was diagnosed at age 5 with Hayson’s Disease, a rare disorder which causes deterioration of the muscles and lungs. Steffinn is now paralyzed from the neck down and relies on a respiration machine to allow him to breathe. Until a few weeks ago, he couldn’t leave his bedroom. That’s all changed, however, thanks to the pioneering work of Selian scientist Jan Stivian, who carried out a procedure to allow the boy to control a robot avatar using his own nerve impulses.
“Steffinn’s muscles have deteriorated, but his brain and nervous system work fine,” Jan Stivian explained. “The robot avatar works similarly to a prosthetic limb. The only difference is that it isn’t attached to Steffinn’s body, so it can go where he cannot.”
Steffinn spent months being trained to use the robot avatar, and is now able to attend school like any other child.
“He had to spend months learning to use it,” Steffinn’s mother Banise said. “He worked so hard, and we’re all incredibly proud of him.”
What lies ahead for Steffinn now that he has control of his avatar? “Now that I can finally go to school, I have lots of stuff to worry about, like homework and stuff like that. I missed a lot of school because of my illness and now I have a lot of catching up to do,” Steffinn said.
Controversy over paralyzed boy’s robot avatar
The Orthonian, 08.25.698
Selian scientist Jan Stivian has successfully carried out a controversial procedure in Harator, allowing a paralyzed boy to interact with the world through a robotic avatar which is controlled remotely by the boy’s own nervous system.
Jan Stivian claims the procedure represents a medical breakthrough which will allow patients who were previously confined to hospital or to their beds to participate more fully in society.
The procedure is banned in Stivian’s native Selia for ethical and religious reasons. Section 528 of the Selian constitution prohibits witchcraft, necromancy, and other practices contrary to the teachings of the prophets. Several religious groups have already spoken out to denounce the procedure.
Ollaff Deveen, director of the Pan-Orthonian Health Organization, said: “We are concerned that Dr. Stivian is using Haratrian children as guinea pigs for a procedure that would never be approved here in Selia”.
However Dr. Stivian called Section 528 a “relic of a less enlightened age”, and added: “This isn’t necromancy, this isn’t a transfer of souls. It’s simply a medical procedure.”
Transcript of the second segment of “Elfi and friends”, 10.25.698
Elfi: And we’re back, with our next topic: a young boy who is paralyzed has undergone a controversial new procedure that has allowed him to attend school and interact with other children, even though he is unable to leave his home. How is this possible? With a robot avatar, that is controlled by the boy’s own nerve impulses.
Now this has generated a storm of controversy, not here in Harator, but in Selia. Religious leaders and prominent Selian politicians have argued that the procedure would be illegal in Selia under a centuries-old law that prohibits, and I quote, ‘Necromancy, the transfer of a soul from one body to another, or the transfer of a soul from a body into an inanimate object’. Jan Stivian, the Selian doctor who carried out the procedure, has actually been barred from the Selian Association of Medical Doctors, meaning he can no longer practice medicine in Selia.
Buno: Well they do take their religion rather seriously over there, don’t they?
Olla: All Selians are mad.
Elfi: Now, now, we won’t be having any of that ah, we won’t be having any cultural insensitivity on the show.
Olla: Right, right, sure.
Elfi: We all know that Selia defines itself as a religious state, while Harator is of course secular, although many Haratrians do consider themselves to be believers – eight percent of us in fact, according to the last census. San, I understand that you’re a believer yourself, is that right?
San: That’s right, I am a believer, yes.
Elfi: I’m curious about your take on this whole issue. Is the procedure necromancy?
San: What you have to understand is that the Church as an institution is not a monolith, there are many strains and schools of thought within it. All believers base our faith on the Holy Texts, but there are different interpretations.
Elfi: Different interpretations, alright…
San: Some people choose to interpret the Texts very literally, while others such as myself prefer to see them in their historical and cultural context. Many of the stories that were passed down to us by the prophets are best understood as metaphors, rather than as literal truth.
Elfi: So, the boy with the robot avatar: is it necromancy, in your opinion?
San: Absolutely not, necromancy is just an old superstition, and I wish the boy all the best.
Buno: I want to talk about the real implications, not all this mumbo-jumbo.
Elfi: What implications are those?
Buno: We have the technology to make robots that are controlled by our own thoughts.
Elfi: Robot avatars, yes…
Buno: I want a robot avatar!
Elfi: You’re perfectly healthy.
Buno: Thanks for saying so. But if I had my own mind-controlled robot, I could do two things at once. While I was here on the show talking with you three lovely people, my robot could be, oh I don’t know, doing my taxes.
Olla: The robot could be on the show and you could do the taxes.
San: The robot might be funnier.
Buno: Alright, alright.
Olla: You need two robots: one to do the show and one to do the taxes, while you sit by the pool drinking Selian cognac.
Buno: Now you’re talking.
Elfi: Well that’s all the time we have for this segment I’m afraid. But don’t worry we’ll be right back, after the break.