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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?<p>"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." (<a href="https://www.gartner.com/en/information-technology/glossary/human-augmentation" target="_blank">gartner.com</a>)</p>
How Ethical is Human Augmentation?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="faafd51d6911c425b2ac1528c14a3c84"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/4pqvzmq9kuk?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Still, if we think of human augmentation, we imagine cyborgs and maybe even <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalek" target="_blank">Daleks</a>. But it is so much more. You might remember the movie <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2209764/" target="_blank">Transcendence</a>, 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?</p>
Human Augmentation: Too Science Fiction?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="233a224d03aa239aa203bb0c87a771d8"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/vRJkYMnswII?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>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 <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2261227/" target="_blank">Netflix' Altered Carbon</a> 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.</p>
Stuck in the US, free on bail, Marcus Hutchins considers his options and decides to plead guilty. He faces up to 10 years in jail.
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