Behavioral Trends: Augmented Humanity
 

Augmented Humanity

 

Being limited by biology and genetics is old fashion. Physical and mental deterioration are not for us. We deserve a better quality of life. Emerging technologies are giving us the possibility of progress and improvement of our limited human condition. We want to perform better and feel limitless.
 

ENJOY THIS DISCUSSION ABOUT AUGMENTED HUMANITY:



SEE SOME EXAMPLES OF AUGMENTED HUMANITY IN ACTION:

HOMO SINGULARIS

Argentinean author, entrepreneur and professor Néstor Márquez has dedicated over 25 years to the field of digital transformation. In his book “Homo Singularis”, he sets out to map the development of technology alongside humanity’s own evolution, following the trail started by our first simple machines all the way up to the inevitable AI singularity in the future and other transhumanist ideas. Márquez invites us to review human history in order to prepare for our future, which could even become post-human history.

Augmented Humanity - Homo Singularis

nestormarquez.com

MEDIPRINT

MediPrint is a Mexico-based startup focusing on the development of 3D-printed medical solutions. Their applications range from rehabilitating orthosis and orthopaedic support to dental prosthesis, always seeking to provide personalised, multifunctional and ergonomic items that suit themselves to the user’s needs. Their founder, Zaid Badwan, has stated that medicine should adapt itself to the latest technologies available, allowing people greater comfort in their recovery and allowing them to retain their mobility to a bigger degree than traditional casts and prostheses.

Augmented Humanity - Mediprint

mediprint3d.com.mx

THE HUMAN BRAIN PROJECT

One of the largest obstacles to advancements in neuroscience is the lack of a centralised knowledge hub about the human brain. Humankind’s most powerful tool has also been one of the most mysterious and complex areas of study. The Human Brain Project was born as an attempt to aggregate and collectivise research and knowledge about every part of the brain, with the aim to develop simulations and brain models that can allow researchers to analyze and experiment freely, without risk or uncertainty. This way, we can achieve better understanding of our cognition and our humanity, perhaps one day allowing us to augment it in ways we couldn’t have thought of before.

Augmented Humanity - The Human Brain Project

humanbrainproject.eu

SENS RESEARCH FOUNDATION

The SENS Research Foundation is a nonprofit organization focused on the study of geriatrics, with the purpose of transforming the treatment of the disease that comes with aging. A particular interest of the SENS Research Foundation is repairing the underlying molecular and cellular damage that occurs to our bodies as we age, in hopes of finding a cure to these diseases, giving future elders a longer lifespan and a greater quality of life as well – effectively augmenting their lives in a fundamental way.

Augmented Humanity - SENS Research Foundation

sens.org

NEURALINK BRAIN CHIP IMPLANTS

Elon Musk’s latest venture, Neuralink, is attempting to bridge machine and brain through neural interfaces. In 2020, Neuralink had its first public presentation featuring Gertrude, a pig implanted with a chip in its brain and the readings it collected, as well as other statistics and data extracted from the pig’s brainwaves. A very short step towards a technology that may fundamentally alter the way we think and how we use our brains in the medium future, bringing us one step closer to transhumanism.

Augmented Humanity - Neuralink

bbc.com (article)

NEW EUGENICS

New Zealand professor of ethics Nicholas Agar coined the term “liberal eugenics” or “new eugenics” to describe an emergent phenomenon in genetics, in which the DNA of a fetus can be modified to “enhance” its characteristics and capacities. The term eugenics originally referred to a formerly widespread science which advocated for the extermination of disabled people and people of certain races as an effort to “perfect” the human race. Those who advocate for new eugenics think of selecting or altering embryos as a personal decision of parents, rather than a forbidden practice. New eugenics is related to the concept of “designer babies”, which has also come into the discussion of genetic engineering.

Augmented Humanity - New Eugenics

wikipedia/New_eugenics

KERNEL

Kernel is developing non-intrusive brain interface technology in order to read and analyze neural activity, with the mission to “create a better human”. The startup, founded by Bryan Johnson, centres itself around filling an existing void for neural insights for the common person, and with an ultimate purpose of eventually becoming useful for people with mental illnesses. Kernel currently offers Neuroscience as a Service (NaaS), which gives businesses and AI applications on-demand access to their brain recording technology.

Augmented Humanity - Kernel

kernel.co

I AM HUMAN

Humankind’s ambition has known few limits. The moon landing in the 1960’s expanded our reach beyond just earth. But now, over 50 years later, humanity’s next frontier is contained in the brain itself. Advancements in brain technology and bionics have yielded our first “cyborgs”, which are faced with questions about their own humanity and the future implications of enhanced human cognition. The documentary I Am Human follows their stories and tells of a quiet revolution defining the future of humanity as we begin to pave a new evolutionary path.

Augmented Humanity - I Am Human

iamhumanfilm.com

NEIL HARBISSON

Artist Neil Harbisson was born with achromat vision, and despite only being able to see in greyscale, he knew color existed around him. In 2004, he underwent a clandestine operation to permanently implant an antenna into his head, which then allowed him to perceive visible and invisible colours via audible vibrations in his skull including infrareds and ultraviolets as well as receive colours from space, images, videos, music or phone calls directly into his head via internet connection. Since then, he has identified himself as a cyborg, even being legally recognised by the government of the UK as such, and has created “cyborg art” that captures his extrasensorial experiences as well as identity.

Augmented Humanity - Neil Harbisson

cyborgarts.com

TRANSHUMANISM

Transhumanism is a political and philosophical movement advocating for the enhancement and advancement of human intellect and physiology through sophisticated and widely available technologies that fundamentally alter the human condition, even going so far as to transcending humanity (hence the name). Transhumanists dedicate themselves to studying ethical concerns about such radical changes, as well as the limitations and potential threats posed by them. Ultimately, the existence of so-called posthuman beings is the thesis to which most transhumanists subscribe to – an alteration and augmentation of humanity’s capacities so great that they transcend what can be contained by “human”.

Augmented Humanity - Transhumanism

wikipedia/Transhumanism

ARTIFICIAL BLOOD

Blood is undoubtedly the fluid that keeps our bodies working. In case of an emergency, blood donations are imprescindible – but there’s not always a matching donor readily available. For decades, scientists have been trying to engineer a method for artificial blood collection. The closest alternative yet is named Hemopure, and it’s sourced from bovine blood, which is passed through a process of filtration, chromatography and polymerisation to create 99.9% pure haemoglobin, thus making it compatible with human blood. It works in the same manner as regular red blood cells, with the key difference being that the haemoglobin is free in the plasma – rather than bound within the cell. Hemopure is currently approved for use in South Africa. Other alternative methods are currently in production – like Jo Mountford’s on-demand human blood generator, which will require years of testing before it’s applied on a mass scale, but if it’s successful, will represent a massive revolution in healthcare.

Augmented Humanity - Artificial Blood

chemistryworld.com (article)

CRISPR

Genetic engineering has long been a complicated, expensive and imprecise practice. However, since 2009, scientists have been working on mastering CRISPR/Cas9 (or simply CRISPR), a DNA sequence which has been described as “a quirk in the immune systems of bacteria to edit genes in other organisms”. The key revolutionary aspect of CRISPR is that it allows such edits to be done quickly, cheaply, and most importantly, extremely precise. Once these results were discovered, the scientific community found themselves face to face to a powerful new tool to control the genetic makeup of practically any living being, and with it, the ability to delete undesirable traits and add desirable traits if they wanted to. CRISPR technology might help in the development of new GMO crops and the creation of new antibiotics – but it has also raised moral and ethical questions regarding its applications in humans, reflected in the debates around new eugenics and “designer babies”.

Augmented Humanity - CRISPR

vox.com (article)

CRYONICS INSTITUTE

The Cryonics Institute was founded in 1976 by Robert Ettinger, who has been referred to as the “Father of Cryonics”. They are pioneers in cryonics, which freezes and stores the bodies of freshly-deceased patients with the purpose of preserving them until future science is able to repair or replace vital tissues and ultimately revive the patient – effectively giving the person another chance at life, maybe even immortality. The Cryonics Institute has been a leading force in the cryonics movement, advancing research, education and public awareness, and has placed firm belief in the advancement of human healthcare to the point of immortality since its foundation.

Augmented Humanity - Cryonics Institute

cryonics.org

THE THIRD THUMB PROJECT

Dani Clode is a multidisciplinary designer and creator of the Third Thumb Project. The Third Thumb is a 3D printed thumb extension for the hand, controlled by users’ feet. Clode has described her project as “part tool, part experience, and part research”, an experiment in expanded mobility and effectively augmented capacities. The project was inspired by the origin of the word “prosthesis”, which had to do with “adding”, not replacing or fixing like we may think today. Thus, the Third Thumb Project is aiming to reframe prosthetics as extensions of the body, and through collaboration with The Plasticity Lab (University College London), exciting research about neuroplasticity is being conduced in order to better understand the brain’s response to augmented limbs.

Augmented Humanity - The Third Thumb Project

daniclodedesign.com

MIT ENGINEER BIONIC LEG

At MIT’s Media Lab, groundbreaking developments in prosthetics are underway. Hugh Herr’s biomechatronics group is creating wearable robots that have both mechanical and neural connections to the body, essentially allowing users to control them with their minds. In the case of Everett Lawson, also an engineer and inventor at MIT, a congenital condition called clubfoot (which weakens the bones of the leg) resulted in getting his left leg amputated – with a twist. He got an Ewing amputation, a brand new form of amputation which preserves as much of the muscles and neural connections in the leg in order to connect it to a robotic prosthesis which essentially mirrors the feeling of the rest of his leg. While the technology is still very rudimentary, the results are substantial enough for its users, opening the door to turning disability into super-ability.

Augmented Humanity - MIT Engineer Bionic Leg

media.mit.edu (article)

DEAN MAI: QUALIA & AI

Qualia is a philosophical and psychological concept, defined as “instances of subjective, conscious experience”, or in words of Daniel Dennett, “the ways things seem to us”. A commonly used example is the perception of color: what to one person is “red”, may be another’s “blue”. In his blog, technology expert Dean Mai writes about the place of qualia in Artificial Intelligence, defining it as the “fundamental particle barrier” between our current forms of AI and what may become human-like AI. Can a machine that feels and perceive reality in its own subject way, be considered human? Would there even be a need for such instances of qualia in the artificial mind? Would qualia still be present, even when we transcend humanity?

Augmented Humanity - Dean Mai Qualia & AI

deanm.ai

BRAINNET

In 2019, scientists at Cornell University first successfully tested their BrainNet interface: the first multi-person non-invasive direct brain-to-brain interface. It allows two or more people to collaborate on solving a simple problem using only brain-to-brain communication, in some way comparable to telepathy. It works by extracting specific contents from the neural signals of a “sending” brain, digitalising them and delivering it to a “receiver” brain. The testers worked together to solve a Tetris-like game in which one of the participants could not see the row they were supposed to clear. The other person would then let the other know what direction they had to turn the falling block in order to complete the task, which they did successfully. The potential of this project is remarkable, possibly extending to massive brain networks via the Internet and even a true collective intelligence.

Augmented Humanity - BrainNet

inbrain.tech (article)

SUPERSAPIENS: THE RISE OF THE MIND

In the documentary Supersapiens: The Rise of the Mind, several experts in the fields of neuroscience, philosophy, biology and even consciousness hacking discuss the inevitable evolution of human intelligence. Whether into a potential new species or simply unlocking previously unforeseen capabilities, the mind holds the key to the next step in the history of humankind. And if we’ll be living through a technological singularity, we might as well step up our own intelligence to be on level ground with this true artificial intelligence.

Augmented Humanity - Supersapiens

terramater.at

ARTIFICIAL RETINA

The loss or absence of any of the human senses is life-altering for many, usually having to live out the rest of their lives without it. Recovering those senses in any capacity used to be a dream, but technological advancements have allowed some patients to recuperate some of their lost senses. One such example of sense-recovery tech comes in the Argus II, a device some refer to as the “bionic eye” or “artificial retina”. This device improves a patient’s ability to perceive images, helping in tasks involving mobility and orientation. It consists of a small video camera, a pair of eyeglasses containing a transmitter, a portable video processing unit (VPU) and an implanted retinal prosthesis that provides 60-pixel vision to the user. Although extremely limited in the present, it has positively impacted people who thought they would never see again; and certainly, this device shows promising possibilities for a future where natural loss of eyesight is no longer an impediment to vision.

Augmented Humanity - Artificial Retina

secondsight.com

DESIGNER BABIES

The gene-editing DNA sequence CRISPR has shown incredible potential since its successful application to remove genes in 2016, leading to all kinds of theories and predictions. One of the more controversial ones is the concept of “designer babies”. With genetic engineering technology now at our fingertips, it was only a matter of time until people proposed using it on human offspring. Ethical and biological questions were raised on the matter: comparisons to the 1997 film Gattaca, which portrayed a society divided by whether they had been genetically “optimised” or not, were rife. However, experts state that using gene editing for this purpose is not likely to become used until 4 or 5 decades from now, suggesting that embryo selection will be far more commonplace than specific “enhancements”, like blond hair and blue eyes, improved athletic abilities, enhanced reading skills or numeracy, just to name a few – so there’s no need to sound the moral alarm… yet.

Augmented Humanity - Designer Babies

theguardian.com (article)

IAN BURKHART

After a severe swimming accident resulting in a severe spinal cord injury, Ian Burkhart was left quadriplegic at the age of 19. While undergoing rehab, he entered an experimental research program which required him to have a chip implanted into his brain as a last hope for gaining some control over his limbs. The results have been satisfactory: he’s regained some finger movement, being able to pour liquids from a glass and even play Guitar Hero – all of these being firsts. Unfortunately, he can only perform most of these actions while hooked up to a lab, but even outside the facility, he has retained some degree of limb mobility, particularly in his hands. These are tremendous and promising advancements in the field of mobility, but they’re still a long way from restoring mobility to the millions of disabled people around the world.

Augmented Humanity - Ian Burkhart

pbs.org (article)

2045 INITIATIVE

The 2045 Initiative is an international nonprofit organization founded by Dmitry Itskov in 2011, as a global network of scientists working to achieve cybernetic immortality by 2045. Essentially, the 2045 Initiative is pioneering in the field of life extension through cybernetic technologies, particularly through virtual means but also robotic means. Their ambitious projects include a humanoid robot named Avatar, a state-of-the-art neural interface, and eventually, an artificial brain into which a consciousness can be uploaded. The Initiative holds the annual “Global Future 2045” congress, in which its members discuss the latest achievements and newest prospects on their goals, slowly but surely inching towards their goal of digital immortality.

Augmented Humanity - 2045 Initiative

2045.com

EXOSKELETON FOR FOOD DELIVERY IN CHINA

In April 2020, a video went viral in China showing a delivery man wearing a futuristic exoskeleton that allowed him to carry three stacked delivery boxes with ease, prompting comparisons to the 2019 video game Death Stranding. This video was actually a test, by Shanghai-based ULS Robotics, of their new HEMS-GS Heavy Lower Limb Exoskeleton Robot, which they will use in partnership with the Eleme takeaway company. Even though the exoskeleton is still in its early development phases, the company claims it will be able to handle up to 50 kilograms when officially put into use, expanding the capabilities both for food delivery and other forms of human-based transportation of objects.

Augmented Humanity - Exoskeleton for Food Delivery in China

cntechpost.com

OPEN BIONICS HERO ARM

UK-based Open Bionics is the creator of the Hero Arm, a 3D-printed myoelectric prosthetic with multi-grip functionality for below-the-elbow amputees. Named due to its aesthetic resemblance to superhero suits, the Hero Arm aims to empower its users to achieve anything they want, “turning their disabilities into superpowers”. What makes the Hero Arm stand out is its lightweight, comfortable and affordable material, which makes the Arm more accessible, as well as its radically simple fitting process. Its design was informed by the needs of amputee patients, and features ventilation, a long-lasting replaceable battery and customisable design. The Hero Arm is straight out of the future, and although there’s a long way to go, it’s a significant improvement in prosthetics and bionics.

Augmented Humanity - Open Bionics Hero Arm

openbionics.com

MOTUM

Motum provides smart mobility aids, anti-fall walking assistance and more to elder patients. Their principles are firmly rooted in the wellbeing of their users, as they aspire to make the aging experience as risk-free, enjoyable and independent as possible. They use “seamless, virtually transparent technologies” to reach solutions that equip their users and their caregivers to gain control when their health and wellness are at risk. At an age where most mobility aids are still considered primitive, Motum offers the world’s first “smart” walking aid, which incorporates biomechanical and ergonomic advancements that reduce cognitive and physical user loads, reduce fall risk and actively assist healthy mobility, while obtaining data that allows further technological improvement. Motum shows that even the simplest tools can be used to advance human ability.

Augmented Humanity - Motum AI

motum.ai

CHRIS DANCY

Chris Dancy calls himself “the most connected human on Earth,” because he keeps track of everything in his life. As simple as that may sound, it actually involves between 300 and 700 sensors, over USD $40k in equipment, and a lot of discipline. Through a myriad pieces of technology, Dancy is able to maintain an astounding record of his entire life. This project started in 2009, and in five years he lost over 120 lbs (55 kg) from simply tracking his habits and adjusting them. A single person’s memory could never keep up with all this data, which is why Dancy relies on technology as the extension of his body and mind. A “mindful cyborg” (his own words), indeed.

Augmented Humanity - Chris Dancy

chrisdancy.com

LIFTWARE LEVEL SPOON

A common task like eating can often be difficult for people with limited hand and arm mobility, or hand tremors. Liftware’s Level Spoon is a self-leveling spoon, which detects movement and annuls it, keeping the spoon and its contents from shaking and spilling; being of significant aid to people with the previously mentioned conditions, by allowing them to retain their dignity, confidence and independence while feeding themselves.

liftware.com

POWERISER JUMPING STILT

Poweriser Jumping Stilts are a hybrid somewhere between a pogo stick and a conventional stilt. They add height to their users, and allow them to travel greater distances as well as higher jumping heights. Of course, they can injure its users, but every thrill has its risks. A fun way to perform better and feel limitless.

augmented humanity - poweriser jumping stilts

wikipedia/jumping_stilts

HUMAN HEADPHONES

A revolutionary audio system, the future of headphones, that includes: SOCIAL listening, share with others; FADE, ambient noise control (up or down); AMPLIFY, work as speakers when together; SPEAK, real time auto translation; ACTIVE, body functions monitoring while exercising; SLEEP, sleep monitoring, REM state, full report, and natural alarm.

augmented humanity - sound by human

humanheadphones.com/

BIONIC BOOT

Run faster than ever, the longest distances you may have dreamed of.

augmented humanity - bionic boot

bionicboot.com

PROTEUS DISCOVER

Proteus Discover consists of an ingestible sensor the size of a grain of sand, a small wearable sensor patch, an application on a mobile device and a provider portal. The patient activates Proteus Discover by taking medication with an ingestible sensor. Once the ingestible sensor reaches the stomach, it transmits a signal to the patch worn on the torso. A digital record is sent to the patient’s mobile device and then to the Proteus cloud where with the patient’s permission, healthcare providers and caregivers can access it via their portal. The patch also measures and shares patient activity and rest. It is a new kind of technological gadget, the insideables (the evolution of wearables).

augmented humanity - proteus discover

proteus.com

 

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