Translating the phrase “human augmentation” into Polish, we can use the term “human extension”. It may not sound beautiful, but the whole idea is about extending human abilities with new functions and possibilities. Using the newest technologies and developments of science, it is possible to improve or enhance human physical and mental abilities. That is why, when discussing the idea of human augmentation, one often mentions super-soldier, super-worker, or generally – superhuman. What are the aspects of human augmentation?
One of the basic levels of human augmentation is the replication of biological human functions into technological ones. A perfect example of this is prosthetics, which not only can provide normal functioning to people after an accident or illness, but also offer abilities that humans did not have before. A mechanical prosthetic hand is capable of not only restoring movement abilities alone, but also providing greater strength. The eSight device will improve functional vision for people with visual impairments and even make blind people see. Cochlear makes implants that allow people with hearing loss to hear without wearing an external hearing aid, and MotionSavvy offers a product that converts sign language to speech and speech to sign language, allowing deaf people to communicate seamlessly
If prosthetics don’t sound like something dope, how about flying? Yes, flying. Scientists have been wanting to achieve the impossible and make humans fly for decades. Of course, everything is still in a very preliminary stage of development and there is no indication that we will ever take to the skies like Superman. An example is a certain Franky Zapata – a French inventor who has developed a jet-powered hovercraft in the shape of a small platform on which one stands.
Exoskeletons can also be cited as one element of replication. Special suits with mechanically powered supports support muscles while carrying weights and prevent injuries. Exoskeletons are a focus of the military, and one project that has been made public is the HULC. A person equipped with a HULC exoskeleton can carry a load of up to 90 kg, at speeds of up to 16 km/h.
Controlling objects with thoughts and more
Already today, 5G network is being introduced to the general public. With its help, various devices will be able to connect wirelessly and send information to each other at high speed and bandwidth. In this way, the concept of the Internet of Things can be realized. The increasingly popular idea of a smart home allows us to remotely control our home, even from the other side of the world.
Only where in all this controlling objects with thoughts? Already for several years scientists have been working on developing a brain-computer interface, with the help of which we could perform certain activities by thought alone. Elon Musk’s company Neuralink is developing a chip that would be implanted directly into the human brain and connected to neutrons. Using wireless technology such as the 5G network, we would be able to connect our chip to other devices and instead of typing a command on a smartphone screen, we could simply think about it
Nanotechnology and biometrics
Miniaturization of current devices is another aspect of human augmentation. Scientists are working on nanobots inserted into the body to fight cancer cells. The nanobot, upon recognizing such a cell, inserts a radioactive bomb of actinic atoms or chemotherapeutic molecules into the cell. The cancer cell is destroyed in this way, thus inhibiting the growth of the tumor. An interesting solution are lenses with AR (Augmented Reality) displays proposed by an American company Mojo Vision. Using them we could see the screen of a computer or phone directly in front of us and read text messages, browse the Internet and even display information about people we pass on the street.
When will we see the first superhumans?
Probably not soon. First, because much of this technology still needs to be carefully refined. Second, it involves a fairly high risk of cybercrime, as each of these technologies will need to have robust security features. And third, it is still a controversial topic when it comes to human life and safety. After all, not everyone will agree to having a chip implanted in their brain and risk potentially losing control of it. For the “human augmentation” scenario to come to fruition, many more years must pass and everyone will have to answer the question – am I ready for something like this?
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