Documenting the Coming Singularity

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Call for Human Augmentation is Beginning

There have been innumerable occasions during my lifetime when I have wondered what it must have been like to be part of the beginning of something big. The 60s, for example. The sexual revolution. The birth of personal computing. I was not there at the beginning of many important, transformative periods. But this time, I am there. Or here.

I have written before about the absence of a hue and cry for technologies to augment the human animal. The last time I posted on this topic, a reader commented that cosmetic surgery was a kind of augmentation, but even there the goal is to bring people up to the standards of the super-beautiful, not really to go beyond what it means to be human. And I'm not talking about machines that exist outside of and separate from the body; we already have lots of those. I'm talking about enhancements to our senses that take us far beyond normal human ability, and to our powers of cognition, our durability, our ability to live underwater, etc. Almost no one in the mainstream of business or science is calling for that kind of augmentation. It is heartening, therefore, when someone with influence issues just such a call.

Ed Boyden, Assistant Professor in the MIT Media Lab and MIT Department of Biological Engineering, has written an excellent article called In Pursuit of Human Augmentation
The journey toward making "normal" obsolete. His central point:
It's arguably time for a discipline to emerge around the idea of human augmentation. At the MIT Media Lab, we are beginning to search for principles that govern the use of technology to augment human abilities--that make the idea of normal obsolete. As a codirector of the Center for Human Augmentation, I lead a lab, the Neuroengineering and Neuromedia Lab, that is developing devices that will hopefully eventually allow us to enhance memory, creativity, and happiness in humans.
Will his determination to be at the forefront of such a discipline catch on? I certainly hope so. Stay tuned.

Source article.

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Unknown said...

I am tuned and ready... If you think about it humans know they need to be augmented. But as you have stated the how much and in what way is the real issue.