I?m an obvious beneficiary of medical technology. Without the computer surgically embedded in my skull, I?d be totally deaf. The device, called a ?cochlear implant,? routes past my damaged inner ear by triggering my auditory nerves with sixteen tiny electrodes coiled up inside my cochlea. It?s not a cure, though, any more than glasses cure vision loss. It?s a prosthesis, a workaround. Compared to the extraordinary delicacy and precision of naturally evolved organs, it?s clumsy. It?s like fixing a spider web with yarn. But someday scientists may learn to coax the body into repairing its own damaged parts instead of creating technological fixes that require a constant supply of batteries. That?s what makes stem-cell research so exciting. Forget prostheses. How about a cure? When I was offered the chance to attend this symposium I jumped at it, the way Moses would if offered a quick tour of the Promised Land....

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