As technology continues to evolve, we’re bound to see innovations that would dramatically influence the way we conduct our daily activities and perform our jobs. In the past few years, we’ve seen the widespread use of artificial intelligence (AI) in various sectors, and workers have so far adapted well. We’ve gotten so used to AI-powered technologies that taking them away could have a tangible impact on our productivity and well-being.
Humans indeed have become deeply entwined with their devices, whether at work or play. In this article, we’ll take a look at the burgeoning concept of augmented humanity, as it shines a spotlight on the relationship we have with technology.
What is Augmented Humanity?
Adobe defines augmented humanity as “what happens when humans work in harmony with technology and machine intelligence to expand and enrich life, helping us to experience more, and in deeper ways, to make better decisions and fulfill our potential as humans.” Simply put, augmented humanity refers to a technology-enhanced way of living and working.
The term, coined by then Google CEO Eric Schmidt in 2010, initially described the theory that devices are an extension of a human’s way of thinking. As such, augmented humanity devices should behave and make predictions based on a user’s preference. Today, augmented humanity has slightly taken on a different meaning. It is commonly used these days in the context of work and refers to the various ways next-generation technologies can expand a person’s physical and psychological potential.
Augmented humanity, in a sense, aims to remove the barriers that prevent humans from doing good and productive work. Additionally, it seeks to arm employees and leaders with data-driven insights so they can make better decisions.
So what are some examples of augmented humanity devices? If you own a smartwatch that urges you to get moving after sitting at your desk for an hour—that’s an augmented humanity device. Wearable technologies such as Google Glass and virtual reality (VR) headsets are prime examples of augmented humanity devices as well. That’s because they heighten their users’ senses and perceptions. Implantable technologies, such as near-field communication (NFC) chips that take the place of access cards, are also part of the augmented humanity spectrum. Software that automates research and data analysis are also considered augmented humanity devices.
Learn more about human augmentations in this video.
Limitations of Augmented Humanity
Like other forms of technology, implementing augmented humanity is not without challenges. Augmented humanity has the potential to cause biases and discrimination in the workplace since augmented humans have an advantage over those who are not. Enhanced individuals, for example, could accomplish their tasks faster than those who don’t utilize devices to enhance their performance. At the same time, individuals who don’t rely on augmented humanity technologies can discriminate against those who need “boosters” to make up for shortcomings.
Augmented humanity may also impact the recruitment or promotion process. Human resource professionals may develop a preference for augmented individuals as they can do more than their non-augmented counterparts. Hiring managers and leaders, on the other hand, may also prefer the “real” skilled candidate over augmented ones. Thus, new workforce or hiring policies may have to be introduced in organizations with augmented humanity in mind.
A productive life is a happy life, and today’s innovations have proven their ability to aid that. Augmented humanity technologies may be lacking in emotional capabilities and could tip the balance in the workplace. However, it’s undeniable that they do add value to human endeavors. So, will we ever see the day when the lines between AI and human capabilities are entirely blurred? We’ll never know, but it’s not hard to get behind that idea, given the potential of modern devices to contribute positively to our lives.