04/07/2018 – Science & Technology / Human Augmentation Science / AI / Sensors / Robotics
Our next evolutionary leap
Fast Future executives explore the potential for ‘human augmentation’ in the next decade
Though much attention related to disruptive technology has highlighted the threats of AI, the inventions being pioneered today in human augmentation science mean that humanity may now be positioned for an evolutionary leap. While undoubtedly highly controversial on social, moral, ethical and religious grounds alike, the potential for human augmentation nonetheless opens up possibilities that society must carefully consider. Fast Future’s Rohit Talwar, Steve Wells, Alexandra Whittington, April Koury and Maria Romero highlight 13 ways that humans may be transformed by 2030.
1. Online reputation
One’s online reputation may become a valuable form of currency in the future, and be considered in job-seeking or credit applications, for example. Tattoos or embedded objects could change, grow, morph and otherwise shape-shift depending on one’s fluctuating online reputation score. A score might be comprised of the number of social media contacts, shares, likes or uploads.
2. Global immunity
Subcutaneous implants would detect pathogens in the immediate environment and provide antibodies to protect us from specific contagious diseases. This would make most public health measures irrelevant as coughing, sneezing and touching may no longer pose a risk. Handwashing could become a redundant activity and vaccines unnecessary, while a global antibiotic crisis could also be averted.
3. Heightened sensitivity
Through deep brain stimulation, humans may eventually have total control of how much physical sensations affect them. We could turn a dial to increase touch sensitivity during intimate moments, or while playing a car chase computer game – and, conversely, dial down our sensitivity in anticipation of a physical altercation.
4. Reality-check implant
This personal detection system would allow us to control our experience of mixed reality, VR and AR sensory stimulation environments. The system would block out photoshopping, virtual, augmented, digital or holographic imagery, and other sensory inputs whenever the wearer wants to ‘keep it real’.
5. Content upgrades
In the next 10-15 years we could be able to perform instant content updates to the human brain – for example, uploading a new language, a map, knowledge about a client or project, and key information prior to a romantic date or a business meeting. This would be achieved either through direct downloads to our web-connected brains or via plug-in memory devices for more confidential information.
6. Brain-computer interface
Wireless communication between our brains and an array of connected devices could become a reality. From computers and phones to domestic appliances and in-car entertainment systems – we would be able to operate gadgets with our thoughts. These wearable or implanted sensors and transmission devices would allow us to communicate as we do with Siri and Alexa today, but without saying a word.
7. Smart contact lenses
Who needs screens when you have eyes that can be turned into visual interfaces? Every device could easily connect with your smart contact lenses and present the information you desire – such as augmented reality overlays of a city as you sightsee. Your requests would be communicated using eye movement, gestures, words or telepathic commands.
8. Cosmetic gene editing
The gene modification technology known as CRISPR introduced in 2012 has already made it ‘cheap and easy’ to edit genomes inside the body. The CRISPR system’s ease of use means it could be utilised for almost any gene-editing technique. While doctors could apply the technology as a targeted cancer treatment, we could also see the same approach used for cosmetic augmentation. For example, high street centres could provide services to change clients’ hair thickness, eye colour, and skin pigmentation, making CRISPR treatments as common as other beauty and lifestyle options.
9. 3D cloner
This device would allow a product to be identified and 3D printed in real time and ‘on sight’, with special optical lens implants that trigger the cloning of the item being viewed by the wearer – like taking a snapshot. Clothing, food and even medical products like prosthetic arms or legs could be created instantaneously on the spot, ‘cloning’ whatever item the user glances at, and transmitting them to be produced on 3D printing machines.
10. Empathy machine
Conflict resolution would be simplified with VR empathy films, which would allow friends, family members, teachers, students, bosses, workers, and even litigators in court to literally see the world through each other’s eyes. Benefits would include greater interpersonal intimacy and understanding, elimination of sibling rivalries, and dealing swiftly with difficult people. Such augmentation would require pre-installation of a memory recording device.
Imagine never forgetting anything ever again. Elephants are believed to have the longest memory of any living creature. With the help of neural implants, people would be able to remember forever too. Such implants, possibly in the form of a ‘neural lace’ lattice of tiny sensors under or just above the skull, could improve memory and may ultimately also prevent Alzheimer’s disease. This could make a perfect gift for the radical age-extender in your life, or elderly relatives who have not yet started showing signs of dementia.
Dwellers of the world’s high-tech smart cities could opt to take a pill that lets them have their lives monitored and managed remotely with 24/7 data capture and surveillance – day in, day out. Imagine each and every behaviour monitored, and, if necessary, modified, by the city’s central nervous system based on a smart city artificial intelligence (AI) programme.
13. Printed skin
4D printed materials are essentially ‘shape shifting’ in the sense that they can change their form and properties based on external stimuli – for example, wetness prompts drying or absorption, heat promotes cooling, and so forth. In the future, a skinsuit, active skin covering, or even surgical skin implant could give humans the ability to adapt to their environment seamlessly. Clothing may become unnecessary with this form-fitting shape-shifting material, which could look like clothes, skin, or whatever the wearer selects. An essential adaptation in extreme climates, 4D printed skin would also be ideal for the fashionista in your life.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Rohit Talwar, Steve Wells, Alexandra Whittington, Maria Romero, and April Koury are from Fast Future which publishes books from future thinkers around the world exploring how developments such as AI, robotics and disruptive thinking could impact individuals, society and business and create new trillion-dollar sectors. Two new books from Fast Future are: ‘Beyond Genuine Stupidity - Ensuring AI Serves Humanity’, and ‘The Future - Reinvented: Reimagining Life, Society, and Business’. See: www.fastfuture.com