To be blinded a second time – hope and its consequences
The failing company Second Sight bore witness to why fans of technological trivia are disgusted by the companies’ market moves. The non-individual case, or how to leave people alone. This is not the first time and not the last, but a particular. It’s one thing for Kodak or Atari to go bankrupt, but quite another for a patient to be left with a non-functioning eye or brain implant.
Second Sight Medical
As we read on the homepage of the medical company Second Sight, it has applied its devices to more than 350 people who are blind or visually impaired. The researchers set as the goal of their existence the fight against retinal pigmentary degeneration. As reported by mp.pl is usually an inherited disease involving involuntary loss of peripheral vision, reduced tunnel vision and central vision. SSM with its product, the ocular implants, has helped its patients restore partial vision by stimulating the visual organs. The Argus system, which consisted of an implant, glasses, a vision transmitter and a transmitter, served. Images captured on the camera with the help of electronic pulses stimulated the eye to produce specific specks of light, giving the illusion of vision.
The consequences of believing in technology?
The company abandoned the technology several years ago, as some patients learned secondhand. The company teetered on the brink of bankruptcy until it collapsed without informing patients and doctors. Patients, despite letters of reassurance that their care would continue, quickly faced a brutal reality. Now, if something in the implant breaks, users are left to fend for themselves. Not only does this mean they could lose their sight again. One patient’s diagnosis of a brain disease is hindered by having the technology, and the staff responsible for implementing it, suddenly cease to exist.
People who received the implants were told that there will be future updates and improvements to the technology, such as software updates to increase the number of pixels in the system and thermal imaging. But those improvements never materialized. In 2020, most employees were laid off. Second Sight is planning a merger with a bio pharma company to work on drug delivery. The owners, although we should now say slaves to the Argus system, were unfortunately not informed of what this meant for them in practice. They fear for their future, and some are trying to rid the technology from their eyes. It is not safe or even possible for everyone.
Second Sight implants, Argus I and Argus II, do not restore normal vision. People do see images, but in shades of grey. These disappear when users move their heads. It’s worth mentioning that results vary depending on the person and the level of their condition.
Some first-generation implant users had difficulty recognizing very basic shapes, but others can now ski or shoot a bow.
“It’s a fantastic technology, but a lousy company.” – Ross Doerr, a Second Sight patient whose defunct Argus system in his eye interferes with medical procedures, told IEEE Spectrum.
A different view is held by Daniel Palanker , professor of ophthalmology at Stanford University, who has licensed his technology to Pixium. Although some customers have praised Argus, along with its developers, Palanker puts it simply – If you provide excellent vision, there will be many patients , and if you provide crappy vision, there will be very few – quips. The Stanford professor is in turn the creator of Prima. Prima implant is smaller, simpler and less expensive than Argus II. However, he says Prima’s superior image resolution has the potential to make Pixium Vision a success.
So it’s not all about Covid?
When questioned about the reason for the discontinuation, the company reinforces the belief that it’s all a consequence of the difficult pandemic situation, though Spectrum reporters have established more important facts that undermine that theory. A management style based on a lack of implementation optimization, conflicts within the team due to visions for the shape of the business, or ultimately the product itself. Argus and its implementation were very expensive, and the effects they provided were unsatisfactory compared to the effects that some patients now have to face. Not the least of which seems to be scaling their business itself, as authorities have overestimated the dot. the possibilities of using Argus by patients.
Although the pandemic has certainly added its three cents. Its emergence was associated with a reduction of activities in the supply, distribution and communication itself in companies, which was associated with great difficulties. It can be seen even this year. In Poland alone, the president of KRD BIG pointed out that in 2021. The number of failed and restructured companies reached 2.3 thousand. This is the highest result in 6 years. This comes as a huge surprise to analysts, as corporate debt has been falling since the moments of the pandemic outbreak, according to Money.en. An analogous situation prevails in the United States, where this year’s default rate increased by 57 percent. y/y according to alebank website.en.
Transhumanism in practice?
Bionic vision, however, has a chance to develop. Prima or Phoenix 99 implants are already visible on the horizon. The big question is what to do about it? The development of bionic technologies is an issue framed by transhumanist currents. After all, overcoming one’s limitations with the help of technology is a perfect representation of this concept. But what if the whole procedure involves market, company, states and inadequate management? People may be more crippled than before. Of course, no one questions Greenberg’s achievements, which pave the way for better products, and the Orion brain implant is already expected to be a much higher caliber device. However, we cannot forget about the tragedy and suffering of all participants of the research, who will have to deal with the consequences of their faith in the assurances of scientists.