Humans are constantly breaking boundaries as we push ourselves to the limits of what’s possible. Sometimes this happens naturally; evolution, hardcore training, or a miraculous talent. Human augmentation, meanwhile, is the field of science and tech that can enhance human abilities through medicine, genetic engineering, and increasingly, neural technology.
Fundamentally, human augmentation benefits the lives of those who need it most – like those with disabilities, illnesses. Other types of human augmentation technologies work with specific IT resources including the cloud, big data, and mobile computing. These include wearable devices such as watches or bracelets that link the human body to external sources of information that are visual, audio, or text based. For this special issue, the focus is primarily on approaches utilizing computation-based solutions instead of those that are rooted in purely pharmaceutical, psychological, or physiologic approaches.
Human augmentation is categorized into three main categories –
Replicating Human Ability – examples of replication technology are eSight, MotionSavvy, Naked Prosthetics, Cochlear Implant, Bioprinting.
Supplementing Human Ability – examples of supplementation technology are Exoskeletons, Neuralink, Google Glass, HoloLens 2.
Exceeding Human Ability – examples of exceeding technology are Zapata Flyboard Air, Invisibility Cloak, Nanobots, Artificial Blood Cell, Synthetic Memory Chip.
Advantages of human augmentation:
» Improve human capabilities and performance
» Alleviate social inequality
» Ensure human well being
» Enhance bodily intercity
Disadvantages of human augmentation:
» Risk of Data and Identity Breach
» Lack of Awareness of handling human augmentation devices and lack of skilled personnel
» Technology can enhance our physical, cognitive, emotional and moral abilities
In its various forms, human augmentation could, and if we look at history, inevitably will to some extent transform society allowing us to do what we never thought possible, making us much more efficient in the way that we work with machines, and even wiping out illnesses. But if this is to benefit mankind, it needs to be thought through carefully.
We must embrace the powerful benefits of neurotech and genetic engineering in a way that’s fair and equitable especially when it comes to the world of sports and medicine. And most importantly of all, we need to hold on to what makes us the beautiful individuals that we are, our differences, our uniqueness, our diversity.
Kashish Bawankule, 4th Year IT (2021-22)