From computers to smart phones to complex digital signage on electronic billboards, technology inundates all aspects of our lives, making for a moderately more convenient existence and keeping us constantly connected to the world and each other, usually for the better.
With constant advancements, technology continues to improve our well-being, far beyond what we thought was possible. Let’s take a look at some cool tech that can potentially make us superhuman.
Thanks to Iron Man and the greater sci-fi action genre, most people hear “powered exoskeleton” and assume it involves battling large robots and shooting projectiles from their fingertips.
However, the current tech used in exoskeleton development is geared less toward giant robot battles and more toward restoring mobility or augmenting endurance. The Ekso suit, which was originally designed to give American soldiers superhuman strength, has been put to use in dozens of hospitals throughout the U.S. as an aid in therapy. The suit actually makes it possible for those who have suffered paralyzing spinal cord injuries to walk.
HULC, which stands for Human Universal Load Carrier, uses some of the same technology as the Ekso device. However, the HULC allows the average man to carry 200-pound loads at 10 mph without so much as breaking a sweat.
2. Brain-computer interface
Brain-computer interface, or BCI, creates a direct link between the human brain and a computer—or other external device. This type of tech has been the thing of science fiction for years, but it’s far from mere speculation. See, the brain operates by producing small electric signals, and it was suggested early on that those electric signals could potentially control a computer or mechanical device, and vice versa.
Why would you even want a computer interacting with your brain? Well, most theoretical applications involve restoration of sight, hearing, or movement. Through BCI, a paralyzed patient whom has lost the ability to speak could operate a computer with his mind to communicate his thoughts.
3. Brain preservation
This gets into the realm of transhumanism—the idea that we can enhance our human capacities to overcome human limitations and essentially become eternal, immortal beings. Initial brain preservation focused on suspending the brain in cryonics with extremely low temperatures. Today, preservation tends more toward the chemical variety. The science behind both is still pretty inexact—you can preserve the physical brain, but who’s to say that your thoughts, memories, emotions, and everything else that makes you you would get preserved as well? There’s still a lot of research to be done, but the idea remains interesting.
4. Brain uploading
But why preserve the brain when you can just upload all your thoughts and memories to a server or hard drive? That’s the question that many researchers pose. Some even believe that, by the year 2040, you will be able to upload your brain to a computer. It’s a super interesting idea. Sufferers of stroke or amnesia could regain all their memories with a simple download.
But that brings up a whole host of other questions. Can you really reduce your deepest thoughts—the memory of your first kiss, the first time you listened to your favorite song, the last thing you said to your mom—into a series of zeros and ones? Is human consciousness even a computable thing? Some suggest that an uploaded mind would actually be an entirely different entity from the person it was copied from.
Technology has certainly made things easier, and it will definitely get better as years pass. However, technology is making us question what being human really means, which is more important and valuable than all the computers and microchips in the world.