TTM 2014 - Future of Humans

There are eye implants today, will they become common in the future? Credit: InfiniteEnigma

Have you ever wondered if we "have "too much" technology? Wherever you look there is technology and even where you don't see it, it lays behind the scene, hidden to our perception.

On October 21st and 22nd a discussion will take place in San Jose, California, at IEEE Technology Time Machine 2014 on the future of humans, and this kind of questions is going to surface for sure.

Technology is no longer just "outside" it is becoming symbiotic with ourselves augmenting our capabilities. Through our smartphones we have access to information anywhere but it is much more than this. It has become "normal" to pick up our phone to know something. Our brain and cognitive processes are getting used to this "memory" extension. Move one step forward and get Google glass. With that on your nose you have the possibility of getting information seamlessly, and the risk, as one might say, is to become so used to it that you no longer perceive a difference between you and you with the glass.

Technology has made artificial eye possible, although it is still a poor imitation of an eye. But move forward twenty years, it is not preposterous to imagine significant progress. Bio-engineering has made feasible to pick up signals directly form the brain cortex and is now making progress in "decoding and understudying" them. The other way from computer to brain is also moving from science fiction to science.

Artificial limbs are reality and artificial muscles are on researchers bench. Protonic chips promise communication between prosthetics and nerves with uncanny accuracy promising a "cure" to palsy within the next twenty years. 

The dream, or nightmare, of a symbiotic life between human and machine is now rooted on science although it is several decades away. But there are lots of greys in between what we are now and a symbiotic, trans-human "species". 

Looking at technology evolution is also looking at new questions that never before had any sense to ask.

In a way these questions have to be asked now, because today we are already facing, possibly, a different sort of human evolution. For at least fifteen years we have been talking about the "digital generation" but, as a matter of fact, till a few years ago the contact with the digital world happened once kids have already learnt to talk and ... think. In these last few years we are really seeing a new generation that is learning to interact with computers as they are learning to walk. We already know that the brain of a newborn uses the first years to "adjust" to the world. This is the first time that the human species is actually shaping its brain in synch with the cyberspace. I might be stretching the point a bit, but surely this is something new and this might be a flavour of trans-humanism that was not expected and that is happening right now, although we will be seeing its effect in the next decade.

These are really amazing time to look at the future as the future is being created among us.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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