Humans have always dreamt of augmentation. The quest for more advanced technology has been insatiable since the advent of electrical devices. Now, we are less bound by our own flesh and blood than ever before and there are many reasons not to be skeptical, as it is not only futurists and transhumanists who advocate the enhancement of human capacities through advanced technology, but medical professionals, too.
Robotics for the medical world
Robotic prostheses provide accident victims restored function for their distal limbs and sufferers of diseases like Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, have had some of their physical functions restored through thought-controlled wheelchairs and speech devices. There are thousands of medical conditions where neuro-controlled limbs could help individuals and there is no denying that their power to assist those in need is something that needs to be investigated for its maximum potential.
From replacement to upgrade
So what about actually upgrading the human form? For years now, robotics have been used to extend our own capabilities. There are robotic arms in factories and assembly lines which allow amazing precision when manufacturing small components. Why? Because robotics arms are more stable and precise than our own.
Exoskeletons are being used to enhance the strength of workers, why? Because exoskeletons enable greater strength and heavier lifting without injury. The premise is simple, upgrading ourselves can help us carry out difficult tasks more easily, efficiently, quickly and most importantly, safely.
From upgrades to transhumanism
Some say that in 200 years, we may live in a world where some have ascended into semi or even fully mechanical superhumans, perhaps even immortalizing themselves as demi-gods. Sounds scary to many who squirm at thoughts of invasive alterations to the body and very exciting to others.
But importantly, companies like Neurogress are refining non-invasive EEG methods for neurocontrol which don’t involve invasive procedures. Perhaps, then, there is some light at the end of the technological tunnel for skeptics, as we will have the option of integrating temporarily into our cyborg selves. This technological flexibility will allow us to live in a state of flux, where we can live our lives between our decidedly humanistic, biological selves, and our technologically advanced and upgraded selves.
Human upgrades could really be limitless. Many of your favorite sci-fi concepts are possible, ranging from the gift of flight, where human thoughts could seamlessly integrate with mechanical wings to enhanced muscular systems that don’t tire or injure. We could employ vast suites of augmented cells to repair our bodies from the inside, cleaning plaques and cholesterol.
From now to the future
For now, though, the principles, including Neurogress’, are developing a means to seamlessly integrate with upgrades as and when we choose to. Advanced EEG technology which uses wearable devices to read brain signals from the surface of the head gives us tremendous flexibility in adding modular equipment to our exoskeletons, ranging from neuro-controlled prostheses to seamless integration with exterior robots and other devices. This direct connection between brain and body through non-invasive brain-machine interfaces enables us direct control of the way around us.
Elon Musk explains, "We're already cyborgs. Your phone and your computer are extensions of you, but the interface is through finger movements or speech, which is very slow."
In time, we will seamlessly integrate with upgrades in a way that gives us rapid and direct control of the world around us. Transhumanists are already rubbing their hands in delight at the future potential, but the immediate practical and medical uses are undeniable.
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