Our excitement with and rapid uptake of technology – and the growing opportunities for artificial brain enhancement – are putting humans more firmly on the path to becoming cyborgs, according to evolution experts from the University of Adelaide.
In their new book The Dynamic Human, authors Professor Maciej Henneberg and Dr Aurthur Saniotis chart the full scope of human evolution, with a look at the past, present and future development of our species.
And while they believe that future humans will more readily combine their own organic material with technology, the authors caution that such enhancements must not ignore humans’ highly complex biology.
Professor Henneberg and Dr Saniotis are members of the Biological Anthropology and Comparative Anatomy Research Unit in the University of Adelaide’s School of Medicine. They are also associates of the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich, Switzerland.
Professor Henneberg says their underlying approach to the book is that the human species continues to evolve: “There is still a tendency by some to view the current form of human beings as static, and that we will stay as such into the future unless some catastrophe causes our extinction,” he says.
“The advent of brain-machine interfaces may force humans to redefine where our humanity lies; it will blur the boundary between human and machine,” Dr Saniotis says.
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Wearable devices that assist with disease control, health monitoring and all matter of information delivery are becoming more common place. All manner of questions arise.
What happens when (not if) artificial intelligence is delivered to help with decision making in business and private life? Will the notion of what is human shift? Are the programmers sufficiently trained to build “humanness” into their enhanced assistance? Is “humanness” something we should prize? What are the alternatives? Or will humanity continue to adopt the “new” new without giving a thought to any of this?