So I was surfing this website which gives rpg stats for various fictional characters in various media, when I came across this character called "The Frenchman" who apparently uses biofeedback to boost his performance to superhuman levels. As the site points out:

Biofeedback is using tech to monitor certain biological indicators such as an ECG, then using concentration exercises to change those. It is primarily explored to compensate for damaged biological functions.

Which was interesting to me and made me wonder, what if we implanted the tech used to monitior these biological functions via cybernetic implants?

We already have similiar devices like pacemakers artificial pancreas Or outright replacing organs like kidnies

How far could we take it? Why type of implants are possible to give us full self'control of our biological functions? Would we be able to perform superhuman feats like the Frenchman?

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding.SE! We're glad you could join us! When you have a moment, please click here to learn more about our culture and take our tour. Building a bit on Tim's answer: While "biofeedback" has a medical meaning, it also has silly meanings. I remember "biofeedback" arcade machines when I was a kid, they'd print out the "high tech" version of a fortune cookie. The unfortunate consequence is that the word is basically technobabble. $\endgroup$ May 20, 2019 at 7:58

2 Answers 2



The reason why human athletic levels are where they are have nothing to do with control and everything to do with tolerances. This is actually a similar reason to why being in a car accident or falling off a cliff is so dangerous; the human body is not designed to go at those speeds or 'jump' that high. For one thing, our bones are designed to be strong but still relatively light. They support us perfectly well in running, jumping, dancing, lifting some heavy things, but they can't take stresses that occur at driving speeds or from falling off high buildings or cliffs.

The same is true of your tendons; they are designed to hold your muscles to your skeleton and in normal use are more than up to the task. But, try to lift a car and assuming you get it up, there's a very strong chance that you'll tear a ligament. Athletes are constantly doing this and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears are a common injury that they suffer even now.

Your Frenchmen won't be able to run super long endurance events like 10x marathon distances because this requires extra energy that has to be stored somewhere in the body and released in a constant manner to the active muscles and there's some evidence to say that even regular marathons can be damaging to a body over the long term because of the way the body stores and supplies energy.

Your Frenchmen also won't be able to run sprints in a tenth of the time Usain Bolt can do it because the muscles can only twitch so fast and accelerating that, even if possible, is only likely to tear the aforementioned ligaments; essentially the muscles would tear themselves off the bones.

Your Frenchmen also won't be able to lift cars or jump buildings or the like because the skeleton won't be strong enough to support the weight or take the impact of landing. Alright, that's not strictly true; it may be able to do it for a while but the price you're going to pay is that your body is going to give out a lot earlier than it otherwise would.

Even tradesmen and athletes today, without emulating super powers, suffer from a range of health problems in their later life. Many have worn cartilage, joint (especially knee) issues, arthritis and a stream of other wear to their bodies that limit their ability to perform basic tasks in their later years.

Put simply, your Frenchman still has a standard body that can only be pushed so far in its lifetime, regardless of how much control you may have over it.

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    $\begingroup$ I was a huge fan of The Six-Million Dollar Man as a kid. But in reality, "bionic" legs would rip his hips/spine/body apart. Probably the only cybernetics that could realistically exceed biological capacity would be eye/ear prosthetics since they're only modifying signals to the brain. $\endgroup$ May 20, 2019 at 8:01
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH Well, you could probably replace bionic legs and such - as long as you replace many of the connecting systems as well. I.e. to handle the stresses of cybernetic legs, you'd at least need a new hip and spine, and probably at least reinforcements at all points where other parts connect $\endgroup$
    – Delioth
    May 20, 2019 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ I think adrenaline or drug-assisted performance could still qualify as "super human", but yeah, TANSTAAFL. $\endgroup$ May 20, 2019 at 16:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Delioth the problem with that is that all you're really doing is pushing the weakest part of the system down the line to another point. By the time you've done this you end up with essentially a brain in a robotic body that houses a life support system for the brain alone. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B II
    May 20, 2019 at 22:51
  • $\begingroup$ I think that this answer might be improved my making a reference to "hysterical strength", where this sort of temporary limit-breaking can occur naturally for a short period of time (e.g. a mother lifting a car off her child). $\endgroup$
    – nick012000
    May 21, 2019 at 6:30

I would assume that "superhuman" means "one that cannot be achieved by humans without supply of performance enhancers".
Because that what those implants would be. First remove that such implants would release hormones ON THEIR OWN. But they could stimulate release of such by owners body. Because you can always supply such with a needle and syringe and you don't need to implant anything to do that.
So in terms of power/strength/endurance those implants would work slightly worse than injections BUT much faster. Monitoring of "wearer" body stats would stimulate hormones at best times, giving most efficient training in best window. It could also provide exact feedback to maintain best performance. For example "right now eat exactly 50g of carbs to replenish glycogen in muscles for peak performance for 30 minutes".
No more guessing, trial and error kind of stuff.

But even with those some feats wouldn't be available without proper, long-term training. So if Frenchman muscles don't have the power to rip arm out of the socket it wouldn't be possible with implants. And I'm talking about "maximum power with adrenaline rush".
What does implants could do is stimulate that adrenaline rush on demand. Block "flight" part of "fight or flight", block pain receptors or intercept pain signals but find workaround for disabled parts of body. So to use secondary muscles if primary is damaged. Or to use some muscles exclusively to support broken bones while maintaining highest level of movability.

So in terms of "how much power/strength" such implants could provide the answer is "similar to taking steroids or SARMS (in long-time)".
In "how much endurance" such implants could provide the answer is "as much needed or until wearer dies".
You need to remember that pain is a biofeedback. If you ignore it you end up hurting yourself more than it's needed. There are stories about marathoners that had broken all bones in their feet's because they ignored the pain "there is nothing cushioning your feet". There are examples of strongmen ripping their muscles/hamstrings doing lifts they done in safe gym environment. Look at latest Arnold Classic. On 10 contenders 2 of them received injuries. Brian Shawn tried to compete with one but his performance was sub par.

If you consider using implants like pancreas or pacemaker you are considering introduction of outside stimulus. Artificial pancreas is (in very simplified terms) injections of insulin. Something people do manually everyday. Just like everyday they inject themselves with growth hormone. So instead of carrying syringe with hormone you have it sewed in your body.

  • $\begingroup$ "If you consider using implants like pancreas or pacemaker you are considering introduction of outside stimulus" um, I don't see the issue with that. $\endgroup$ May 21, 2019 at 21:20
  • $\begingroup$ @JacobBlaustein Such "implants" are just more sophisticated epi-pens. So there is no need to go through operation of "installing " such implant if you can use the syringe as then you have wider choice of stimulus you can take with you rather than sticking to ones you have in you or installing "just in case". $\endgroup$ May 22, 2019 at 7:28

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