Human Augmentation is a controversial field where the latest technologies meet with the human body and brain. Its wide scope makes it difficult to categorize exactly what is and what isn’t considered to be Human Augmentation technology.
From invasive to non-invasive devices, there are many different examples of Human Augmentation. However, discussing all these different technologies is not the purpose of this post.
More often than not, discussions on Human Augmentation technology revolve around the hardware, leaving almost no place for the software. That is why this article will focus on a general view of what Human Augmentation is, particularly on how software plays a key role in its different technologies and how this will play a major role in the MedTech industry.
What Is Human Augmentation?
Human Augmentation refers to the enhancement of human abilities through the use of different technologies. This includes a wide variety of devices that fall under its scope, making it sometimes problematic to define exactly what Human Augmentation is. On certain occasions, Human Augmentation even refers to chemical substances that can enhance the brain and the body, improving both cognitive and physical conditions.
Implants and external devices are both considered to be examples of Human Augmentation technology. The first is often referred to as invasive because it tends to require medical interventions. The second is considered to be non-invasive because it can easily be removed at will and without any medical interventions.
These different technologies often trigger strong debates as to whether Human Augmentation is ethical or not. However, if you think about it, enhancing the human body isn’t new. Many technologies have been enhancing the human body for millennia.
As an example, just think of glasses. This might sound like a primitive technology, but it has been enhancing the human body for a long time, helping people see better. Other examples are not so simple to analyze. On the other end of the spectrum, we have complex technologies like Neuralink, which promises to enhance the human brain through an invasive computer device.
These huge differences in the variety of examples of Human Augmentation technology make discussions around this topic very difficult. There are many different points of view when it comes to modifying human cognitive and physical capabilities.
Is Human Augmentation Possible?
Any augmentation human societies implement will probably be, at some point, questioned. To some, the question of whether Human Augmentation is possible in the first place is even more important. However, supporters of this train of thought tend to refer to the complex end of the spectrum.
To them, some technologies that can enhance the human brain are infeasible, to say the least. These views are often aligned with ethical questions. In this sense, it isn’t only about the feasibility of these types of technologies, but also if we should use them in the first place.
What Is an Augmented Human Being?
Trying to define what an augmented human being is poses a great challenge. Most people who use technology to enhance themselves, like people who use glasses, probably do not consider themselves to be augmented humans.
Nonetheless, one can surely say that people with computer-aided prosthetics are enhanced humans. After all, a software-aided computer is located on the far end of the Human Augmentation spectrum.
How Is Human Augmentation Used?
There are many different ways in which Human Augmentation technology can be used. For a start, it can be used for improvements, like making the brain work better or for improving specific senses, but it does not stop there. It can also be used for recreational purposes, like in the case of sports, where athletes use different technologies to improve their performance.
However, one of the most important examples of Human Augmentation and how it is used occurs in the medical field. Computer-based augmentation technologies have the power to not only improve but repair the body and brain.
Why Is Human Augmentation Important?
In recent years, thanks to many different advances in technology, the world has seen a number of innovations that help humans. In particular, many of these technologies have the potential to help medical patients in different ways.
Nonetheless, these technologies are not limited to the medical field. Other enhancing technologies can be used for commercial and even recreational purposes. Look, for example, at augmented reality. This has a number of advantages for humans, even if it is not normally considered to be a human-enhancing technology. The same happens with mixed reality technology. Gaming, productivity tools, and commerce are just some of the industries that can benefit from augmented reality and mixed reality.
Also, keep in mind that Human Augmentation technology can also be used to collect data on biometrics. However, this poses many ethical challenges.
Ethics and Human Augmentation
Many of the different types of human enhancing technologies tend to resemble a computer in the sense that they are not just mechanical devices. They integrate hardware and software into a single device. Some are so powerful that they even use Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
A pacemaker is one of many examples of Human Augmentation technologies that use software. Although not a known fact, this technology needs to be programmed in order to function properly. Some technologies like this one can even use Artificial Intelligence and large amounts of data. This, however, has many ethical implications.
For a start, we have the fact that many patients don’t really get to know what type of software their medical device is running on. These devices can literally save or kill people, so transparency and safety are crucial.
Additionally, we have the issue of inequality. In a society where only a few people are able to enhance themselves, is it fair that many will eventually be left behind? Lastly, we have an issue with data. Many augmentation devices tend to collect biometric data, and as users, we aren’t usually aware of the data that is being collected or what it is being used for. Data privacy is an important matter in terms of augmenting human capabilities.
As Human Augmentation technology becomes more common, we can expect even more ethical debates to arise.
Examples of Human Augmentation
There are many different examples of Human Augmentation. As a matter of fact, there are so many examples that it is sometimes hard to define exactly what falls under this concept.
These are just some examples of Human Augmentation technologies:
- Wearable devices
- Prosthetic limbs
- Augmented reality devices
- Hearing aids
- Brain devices
Human Augmentation Technology and MedTech
MedTech software development and Human Augmentation technology go hand in hand. As technology moves forward, we will see how human quality of life is improved thanks to these devices. An important part of this process will be the quality of the software used.
Any augmentation human beings develop for their body or brain will need to be tested thoroughly through strict quality assurance tests, just like a normal computer program would.
In order to guarantee quality Human Augmentation devices, whether for MedTech or other industries, it is best to always find a reliable software development partner who understands the importance of ethical concerns, the implications of using data, and most importantly, preserving the quality of life. Augmenting human capabilities is a serious task that should be done only by professionals.