Did you know that Elon Musk is in the works of wiring your brain? The Tesla co-founder is currently developing new technology with Neuralink, his neuroscience company. He is trying to build a direct interface between computer systems and brains. It will enable paralyzed humans to control phones and other devices with their brains.
Human augmentation, sometimes called “Human 2.0,” concentrates on creating physical and cognitive improvements in the human body. Through active control systems, it can create limb prosthetics with features and characteristics exceeding natural human performance.
The development of human augmentation has opened tremendous new possibilities, especially in the field of medicine. It may be painted as a futuristic technology, but the truth is told, it is already here. To learn more about human augmentation examples and types, read further.
What Is Human Augmentation?
Human augmentation is defined in the same context as transhumanism, biohacking, and enhancement. These three terms are overlapping and can work together.
Human enhancement is related to improvements in the human body, while biohacking is concerned about improvements in the body through technologies. Lastly, transhumanism is a philosophical movement aiming to break through the human body’s biological boundaries.
In essence, human augmentation is any technology that enhances the capability and productivity of humans. It may sometimes involve adding parts to the human body. For something to be augmented, it should be integrated into its user’s life as if it is an extension of them.
Take, for example, a hammer is not an augment because you just use it when you need it, but a discreet exoskeleton like prosthetic arms that may help you in your day-to-day activities can be considered as an augment. Following this rule, a laptop could not be an augment, but a smartphone could be.
In short, for a technology to be called augmentation, it should become an intuitive and persistent part of the human body experience almost on a moment-by-moment basis. With this definition, you may call your eyeglasses, chip implants, and pacemakers augmentations.
On top of these, healthcare organizations’ possession of high monetary and intelligence value made them vulnerable to cyberattacks. Some of the data targeted by cyber thieves include:
What Are Its Types and Examples?
Human augmentation can be categorized into three groups depending on its function.
1. Replicating human ability
There is already a reduction in the percentage of devices whose operating systems are just supported through the paid ESU program from 71% to 32% from 2019 to 2020.
Replication is the first level in human augmentation. It can restore or replicate usual human abilities, helping those who have suffered an accident or tragic illness and those born with deficiencies level their playing field. Devices under this give psychological benefits to users.
Here are some of the examples that fall under it:Naked Prosthetics
It is a company creating custom hand prosthetics for people who had amputated fingers. They are one of the first manufacturers of finger prosthetics, allowing their users to have high levels of dexterity.eSight
It is a wearable device like regular glasses that allows legally blind people to see their surroundings. It has cameras in front, taking the near-eye quality environment and displaying it before the wearer’s eyes.MotionSavvy
It is a platform for translating sign language into speech and vice versa that serves as a personal translator for the deaf.
2. Supplementing human ability
The second level of human augmentation that improves ability is supplementation. It enables people to run faster and endure more. This type of augmentation can shape our future by supplementing human strength, speed, and endurance to address intellectual and physical limitations.
Here are some of the technologies that supplement human abilities:Exoskeletons
It is a mechanical device that can be worn outside the body, providing artificial strength and endurance. Sarcos Guardian, an industrial exoskeleton, allows humans to lift 200 pounds, handle repetitive motions, and perform precise operations without strain.Waverly Labs
It has created earbuds that can translate conversations in real-time without having to learn foreign languages.Neuralink
Elon Musk aims to create a brain-computer interface (BCI) to allow people to interact with a computer on a neural level.
3. Exceeding human ability
It is the final level of human augmentation that allows normal humans to exceed their abilities. Though this is the most exciting among the three, it is still far off in the future. Some of the applications of this today involve exceptional use cases like for specific industries or military purposes only.
Here are some examples of technologies under this category:Invisibility Cloak
Though the technology is not yet here, researchers have already come up with ways to make objects and surfaces invisible as they apply the concept of human cloaking.Zapata Flyboard Air
It is a hoverboard powered by a turbine where its driver stands on it like a surfboard and can fly in the air up to 500 feet. The device is already available in the market at a hefty price of around a quarter-million dollars.Artificial Blood Cell
Though this is still theoretical, a researcher already explored the possibility of having artificial blood cells. The idea came from research on mammals who can hold their breath underwater for a long while, implying that their blood cells are better at oxygen storage.
Human augmentation not only improves human lives but also allows impaired people to live normally. With the current advancement in technology, the impossible is almost possible, especially in medicine where blinds can see, and the deaf can hear.