ZDNet reports that the Japanese government plans to invite researchers and academics to submit proposals that intend to advance human augmentation and cyborg technologies, offering up almost $1 billion as an incentive. An unnamed government source told the Nikkei Asian News that 100 billion yen ($921 million) has been set aside to fund these select projects in 25 different subject areas for the first five years of a decade-long support agreement. Potential projects range from wacky sci-fi ambitions like cyborg technology to utilitarian problem-solvers like reducing industrial waste or cleaning up the ocean.
Japan’s population growth rate has reduced to -0.27 percent, leading to concerns over future labor shortages. Thus, the government is trying to find a way to keep individuals in work longer or replace human staff altogether, so the cyborgs would actually serve a utilitarian purpose—and not that of taking over the world.
Nikkei says the grant would help to develop “a cyborg technology that can replace human bodily functions using robotics or living organisms by 2050.”
Japanese researchers are also studying animal hibernation for ideas as to how to increase the longevity of human life. The rough hypothesis is that periodically putting a human into a state of stasis could promote longevity. Jury is still out on whether your straight 12-hour Netflix binge last Sunday qualifies as a life-extending “stasis.”
There are 25 different subject fields accepting applications for research grants—cyborg technology just happens to be the most eccentric. Proposals can also be submitted with ideas for automating agriculture, forestry, construction, and fishery. Japan is especially interested in finding more efficient ways to recycle industrial waste.
Researchers, whether from Japan or elsewhere, can develop their proposals and apply for the government-funded grants next year. Project deadlines range anywhere from 2025 to 2060, depending on how formidable the project.