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What does human augmentation mean for the tech industry?

Human augmentation is the application of science and technologies to improve human performance temporarily or permanently – through medicine, genetic engineering, and increasingly, neural technology. The human augmentation market was worth almost $90 billion in 2020 and looks set to reach $400 billion by 2027 according to Report Ocean. And it’s not necessarily about literal cyborgs. 

Human augmentation means the ability to perform actions (mental or physical) with the help of tools integrated with our bodies. The aim is to enhance productivity and to work as an extension of human capabilities. That might mean integrated into our bodies – or it might not. Your phone is an example of human augmentation.

The transhumanism future seemed like a sci-fi scenario. However, this can now be found on an everyday basis and it is no longer the realm of science fiction.

Types of human augmentation


Perhaps the most essential type of human augmentation, replicating technologies replace lost human abilities or parts. Examples of tech companies making a tremendous difference include Naked Prosthetics, which builds realistic, working finger prosthetics for people who have lost digits, and MotionSavvy, who are translating sign language into speech and the other way round, acting as a translator.


Supplementing adds to our abilities, for example through hear aids/implants, devices to enhance our vocabulary, or smart glasses that allow us to make eye contact remotely with people far away. This technology exists and has been bought by Google. Supplementing pushes us beyond our natural limits or boosts intelligence. The human enhancement that strengthens our physical or mental limitations has revolutionary potential.


The most exciting category is the one that could make us “superhumans” or “Human 2.0” which focuses on creating cognitive and physical improvements. These technologies allow us to exceed human potential. One example is Elon Musk’s Neuralink, which is crossing the boundaries between the human mind and a computer. Neuralink has created a self-contained neural implant that can wirelessly transmit comprehensive brain activity without needing any external hardware help. The main objective behind creating such a device is to sync up the human brain with A.I., which will ensure humans control computers, prosthetic limbs, and other machines using only their thoughts.

But it is not only the giants that are getting involved in human augmentation. Small and medium-sized businesses are too, as well as startups like MindPortal, which recently raised $5 million in venture capital for its project to develop a wearable device that would allow the brain to create fully immersive realities we could share with others.

If a career in human augmentation interests you, there are several directions it could take. Check them all out below. 

Uses for human augmentation:

1. Biomedical solutions

As well as prosthetics, exciting biomedical solutions include bioprinting, constructing human organs and tissues in the laboratory. Research and Development Engineers are needed in this field. Or you could work in ageing tech, enabling humans to lead full lives well beyond threescore years and ten.

2. Wearables

It’s not just about smart glasses, smartphones, and smartwatches. What about exoskeletons? An exoskeleton, as the name suggests, is an external frame that can be worn to support the body. Exoskeletons are employed within the construction industry. These exosuits are metal frameworks that can be fitted with motorised muscles to multiply the wearer's strength. The suit aims to minimise strain and injury by providing lift support, weight dispersion, posture correction, and other capabilities. Construction workers are using them to boost their performance already, and the market should be worth $1.9 billion by 2025. Data scientists will be in high demand here. Or if you have design skills, consider working for a company like Timekettle, whose pocket translators are about to make the Babel Fish a reality.

3. Brain-computer interfaces

Brain-computer interfaces (BCI) can increase the brain's potential by allowing unmediated interaction between humans and computers and have successfully been used to treat depression. Besides Neuralink, look at startups like NextMind and Kernel, whose technologies work without surgical implants.

4. Artificial Intelligence

One of the most promising AI applications in the field of human augmentation is DeepMind, acquired by Google in 2014. If its AI Alphafold succeeds in predicting the shape of a structured protein, it will solve a 50-year-old riddle and help humanity fight diseases. Many industry industries, including the energy sector, are moving into AI. Machine learning (ML) algorithms can identify patterns and insights within large data sets, and predict outcomes given certain data inputs. This would allow energy companies to anticipate energy demand. For end-consumers, AI-based models may help reduce utility bills through the optimisation of home solar and battery systems, while also shifting loads to periods when electricity grids are less congested.

5. Legal and Ethical Support

Lawtechs use human augmentation technology and machine learning to create custom solutions for law firms, cut red tape in legal proceedings for the final client, and crunch data to help lawyers make more informed decisions.

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