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Human augmentation is not a new phenomenon. We have been augmenting ourselves for thousands of years. As artist, composer Brian Eno explains: 'The spear is an augmented arm. The hammer is an augmented fist.' However, we are now at an exciting stage of evolution. What was science-fiction is now becoming fact and it is happening faster than most of us expected. But what is human augmentation? How will technology change our minds and bodies? And why does it matter?
Our new series Imagine Beyond takes on these questions to show how human augmentation can shape the world as we know it. But first, let's understand what human augmentation actually is.
What is Human Augmentation?
"The field of human augmentation (sometimes referred to as "Human 2.0") focuses on creating cognitive and physical improvements as an integral part of the human body. An example is using active control systems to create limb prosthetics with characteristics that can exceed the highest natural human performance." (gartner.com)
How Ethical is Human Augmentation?
Still, if we think of human augmentation, we imagine cyborgs and maybe even Daleks. But it is so much more. You might remember the movie Transcendence, where Will Caster's consciousness is uploaded onto a computer, and thus turning himself into artificial intelligence. It didn't take long before the first ethical questions popped up: Is this AI really Will? Is it dangerous for an AI to be able to think like a human and not just for the purpose it has been programmed for? Is it okay to take over the bodies of other people for doing greater good?
Human Augmentation: Too Science Fiction?
You might think that this is way too science fiction, but researchers are already working on transcending our minds into computers which could lead to us learning faster, not being tied to one location or even body. Just imagine the possibilities. Scenarios such as in Netflix' Altered Carbon do not seem that far-fetched anymore; we could cheat illness and death because we would be more than "just" our DNA. We are in the middle of the next step of our human evolution and I am excited about what is to come.
In our new web series Imagine Beyond we at Tomorrow Unlocked want to show you where we stand today and how our human self may be augmented in the future, making our life easier and also better.
Lives today are linked to the world of Star Wars more than many realize
Today is Star Wars Day! What better way to celebrate the iconic movies than by checking out these 4 documentaries that show how Star Wars technology is becoming a daily reality. These short films explore the amazing possibilities of this moment in robotics, cryonics and human augmentation.
Imagine Beyond - The Body (above)
In the final scenes of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker's hand – cut off by Darth Vader – is replaced in just 24 hours. Scientists across the world are now working on robotic limbs that can integrate with human bodies. Will we soon become superhuman?
Watch these videos to see how technology is making Star Wars-evoking strides into human augmentation, robotics and cryonics.
Unlocked: Is more tech inside making us better?
Should bionic augmentation aim to restore bodies, or add to them? Tilly Lockey, who has highly customized bionic arms, and Wojtek Paprota, with his implanted chip, discuss the possibilities and advantages of cyborgs and robotic upgrades.
Robotic Relationships: How we could fall in love with machines
Robotic relationships may be a turning point in the age of the machine. Can humans and AI connect on a deep emotional level?
Frozen in time: Is this how we will cheat death?
Eternal life might be possible sooner than we think. What will it mean for our bodies and society?
Ultra-fast gaming and the sports of tomorrow, with Break the Record's Fredrik Lidholt
Completing a game more quickly than opponents is the goal of the esport of speedrunning. It could be Super Mario, Doom or any other game. This week we'll see which elite players can break the speed record playing Minecraft.
Speed is the name of the game
The Break the Record Live Series is a live-streamed event where elite gamers compete to be the fastest ever player. Next week, they'll try to break the Minecraft speed-playing record. The brains behind Break the Record, Fredrik Lidholt (aka Edenal) chats about the future of esports with Marco Preuss and Rainer Bock in the latest episode of Unlocked.
Find out more about next week's Minecraft event here!