The action or process of making or becoming greater in size or amount.
"The augmentation of the curriculum with new subjects."
For most people, the idea of brain and body augmentation remains firmly in the realms of science fiction. However, for scientists across the globe, it is fast becoming reality—with the possibility of humans with super-intelligence and metal built 'shells' edging ever closer.
In laboratory experiments on rats, researchers have already been able to transfer memories from one brain to another. Future projects include the development of possible telepathic communication and the creation of 'cyborgs,' where humans have advanced abilities both physically and mentally thanks to technological augmentations or implants. There is also the prospect of changing our individual abilities through the use of gene therapies or viruses, locking in increases to intelligence or changes to muscular-skeletal properties, much like in the 'Bourne' books and films. With the likes of Elon Musk, Professor Maciej Henneberg, and Dr. Arthur Saniotis and many others, stating that the future evolution for humanity is a melding of organic material and technology, the prospect for this eventuality is far more real than most would acknowledge.
At the mention of 'cyborg' or 'cybernetics,' most people's minds would delve into the fiction-rich environments of futuristic dystopian novels, films, and video games such as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?Bladerunner, 'Deus Ex,' and Ex Machina. These worlds show a dysfunctional society where there is a stark difference between the rich and the poor but note that there is a huge market for human augmentation or robotic advancement within these spheres.
If you cut then to the present you will see that, with our current technology, we are not far from the technological knowledge required to make such scientific marvels a reality. We already have cybernetic prosthetics for those missing limbs, or implants to aid with the battle against Parkinson's Disease and stem cell research to combat multiple sclerosis. Even the cochlear implants used by hundreds of hearing impaired individuals worldwide could be considered a part of the human augmentation or the 'transhuman' movement. Transhumanism is the belief or theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of science and technology. Transhumanists believe that our intellectual, physical, and psychological capabilities can, and should, be enhanced by any and all available emerging technologies. Ranging from genetic modification to make us smarter and live longer, to enhancing our physical capabilities through bioengineering and mechanical implants. Transhumanists see our future as one where we transcend our physical bodies with the aid of science and technology, becoming something beyond human.
This prospect causes a mixture of hope and fear. Many people are now excited at the future for our species, with the possibilities being near endless. However, there are those who will oppose this change, opening questions that really do need considering. For example, if we were to begin a journey of augmentation for betterment, will we still be able to be called human? At what point do we differentiate between human and machine? What if we lose our humanity in the process?
With this consideration, my question posed is simply this. How will we evolve next? Will it be in line with Elon Musk and his belief that humanity will become a combination of man and machine or will we allow the fear that people might experience at the prospect of becoming more than human keep us from moving forward?
The most important question for us all to consider, before we can rationally decide where our future lies and how to achieve it is this:
What is it that actually makes us human?