Ending physical disability: Human augmentation could end physical disability in humans


Ending physical disability: Human augmentation could end physical disability in humans

Ending physical disability: Human augmentation could end physical disability in humans

Subheading text
Robotics and synthetic human body parts could lead to a promising future for people with physical disabilities.
    • Author:
    • Author name
      Quantumrun Foresight
    • May 8, 2022

    Human augmentation devices, such as assistive robotics and brain chips, may help people with physical disabilities to live more independent lives. 

    End of physical disability context

    People suffering from disabilities may benefit from technological advancements in robotics, human-assistive artificial intelligence (AI), and synthetic systems. These systems and platforms are collectively referred to as assistive technologies, which aim to replicate the function of specific human body parts so that people with physical disabilities can live with greater mobility and independence.  

    For example, an assistive robotic arm can assist a quadriplegic who uses a wheelchair. The robotic arm can easily be attached to an electric wheelchair and help such individuals eat, go shopping, and move around in public spaces where applicable. Another example is walk-assist robots or robotic trousers, which help paraplegics regain the ability to use their legs and enhance their mobility. These robotic devices are equipped with sensors, self-balancing features, and robotic muscles so they can provide their users with as much natural movement as possible.  

    Disruptive impact

    According to the World Bank, approximately one billion people worldwide suffer from some form of disability. Human augmentation through technology could lead to a more inclusive workforce because it may allow people with physical disabilities—who have proper qualifications—to accept jobs that they were previously restricted from due to their physical limitations. However, such innovations may also become popular among the able-bodied in society.

    Additional research has suggested that as these types of technologies develop, in addition to other AI-driven technologies, segments of the general population may become increasingly dependent on them. Increased human intelligence, automation, and physical strength can lead to a more productive workforce and economy, with robotics over the course of the 20th and now 21st century paving the way for the increased automation of human society. Studies show that exoskeletons made of robotic systems could make humans stronger and faster. Similarly, brain chips could aid memory improvements through integrated AI software. 

    Furthermore, the use of human augmentation may lead to the creation of immense amounts of healthcare data. For example, devices implanted into a person’s brain could collect physiological data that could one day be used to change or enhance a person’s physical and mental attributes. Governments and regulators may need to create regulations and pass laws that stipulate to what extent these types of devices can augment a person’s physiology, who owns the data produced from these devices, and eliminate their use in specific environments, such as in competitive sports. Overall, innovations that can support people with disabilities may also contribute to advancements in transhumanism.

    Implications of ending physical disability through technology

    The implications of applying novel technologies to end physical disabilities may include:

    • A more inclusive workforce where people with disabilities will face fewer limitations in spite of their mental or physical disabilities.
    • Reduced national healthcare costs as people with disabilities can gain greater independence, no longer needing 24/7 support from caregivers.
    • The greater maturation of tech to augment the human form, itself leading to the growing acceptance of a synthetic society.
    • New sports being created specifically for augmented humans.

    Questions to comment on

    • What technologies have you seen (or are working on) that may prove beneficial to persons living with disabilities?
    • What do you believe should be the limit of human augmentation through technology?
    • Do you think the human augmentation technologies noted in this post may be applied to animals, such as pets?