Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Tech Trends in 2020: Human Augmentation

November 08, 2019 by Stefanini

Glasses. Prosthetics. Cochlear implants. Humans have been augmenting parts of their bodies for years – so why not utilize human augmentation at your business?

The fourth of Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Trends, human augmentation, refers to the use of technology to improve the cognitive and physical experiences of humans.

According to Gartner, augmentation falls into two categories: physical augmentation and cognitive augmentation.

Physical augmentation

Physical augmentation alters the person’s inherent physical capability by implanting or hosting a technology within their bodies. This falls into four categories:

1.       Sensory augmentation

Sensory augmentation involves hearing, vision, and perception. Examples include virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR). We are witnessing several companies delve into human augmentation, whether it be smart contact lenses that are able to detect glucose levels in tears and intraocular pressure, or an “electronic nose” that is identical to the human nose.

2.       Appendage and biological function augmentation

In appendage and biological function augmentation, exoskeletons and prosthetics are used to replace or enhance such capabilities. We can see this in various forms, including surgical augmentation of the eyes of professional golfers and cochlear implants replacing nonfunctioning auditory nerves.

Both the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries are prime examples of what this type of augmentation looks like. Passive implants are used to enhance nails, hair, and even reshape body parts. Nootropics involves the use of natural or synthetic substances that has the potential to enhance a human’s mental skills, which sparks controversy.

3.       Brain augmentation

In addition to treating seizures, brain implants are being used for extraordinary things, such as memory storage, decoding neural patterns, and synthesizing speech. The ability for anything to alter the human brain in such a way was once unheard of, so this is a major turning point in the technology world.

4.       Genetic augmentation

With genetic augmentation, somatic gene and cell therapies are used to treat children with severe combined immune deficiency. CRISPR technologies may soon become more easily accessible and affordable, which will enable broad genetic engineering. This raises various ethical concerns.

 

Cognitive augmentation

Gartner advises that cognitive augmentation improves the human thought and decision-making process, and carries technological elements of the brain augmentation category “as they are physical implants that deal with cognitive reasoning.”

In addition, Gartner mentions that “cognitive augmentation can occur through accessing information and exploiting applications on traditional computer systems and the emerging multiexperience interface in smart spaces. This includes augmented intelligence scenarios, where humans and artificial intelligence work together to enhance cognitive performance, including decision making and learning.”

 

Culture and Ethics

Some of the ethical concerns of human augmentation were mentioned earlier, like the use of CRISPR technologies and Nootropics for example. These are important discussion points considering that people are integrating “more of their lives into one intelligence-amplifying human augmentation.” As a result, companies must not ignore issues related to data transparency, privacy, and autonomy.

Gartner points out five key areas that organizations should look into when implementing human augmentation technologies:

1.       Security

If organizations wish to implement human augmentation technologies, they need to be aware of the possible security risks, which may travel with the human that is being augmented instead of a device. 

2.       Privacy

People’s intimate knowledge and data can be threatened with human augmentation, making it easily accessible.

3.       Compliance

Compliance can be challenging for organizations as government and regulatory agencies are frequently issuing regulations and providing compliance requirements. What makes it more difficult is the fact that there is still so much to learn about human augmentation technologies.  

4.       Health Impact

Human augmentation poses major health risks for humans, causing long-term mental and physical issues. This can be extremely concerning for people considering that these implications are not fully understood yet.

5.       Ethics

According to Gartner, human augmentation can lead to a whole host of ethical issues, including “ethical considerations and assessments for determining specific vulnerabilities, risks and moral issues.” Gartner wants you to consider the “digital divide” between humans, as affluent people have the “luxury” of augmenting themselves and their children, while less affluent people may not.   

While it may seem like human augmentation is a technology of the future, according to Gartner, it’s closer than we think. Nowadays, AI and ML are increasingly used to make decisions in place of humans.

For example, Sophie, Stefanini’s omni-channel virtual assistant, capitalizes on our expertise in analytics, integrating with the most advanced analytics platforms to make your data easier to access. Sophie can save you time by answering your questions about your analytics data, rather than hunting through dashboards to discover the information you need. With better data understanding, you can make better decisions for your business and cater to your users.

Integrated with predictive modeling, Sophie will interface with the data analytics to communicate early warning signs of failures, alert end users of issues, and prevent problems with self-healing skills. Your enterprise will run more efficiently with fewer issues and a more proactive approach.

Want to learn more about how AI platforms like Sophie can be implemented at your business? Call us today for more information.

 

References:

Gartner: Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020

Gartner: Gartner Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020 

 

With over 30 years of expertise in the technology market, Stefanini drives business in companies of all sizes. 

Contact us today to take advantage of the latest technology trends and apply them to grow your business.

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