Human augmentation: Homo programmable
You’re not so special
In many respects, humans are nothing special. We are playing the same game as all other lifeforms, ie. to stay alive long enough to create the next generation. Everything else is a detail. To play we need to acquire resources in an energy efficient manner. In other words, the cost of acquiring those resources must be less than the resources acquired.
Living organisms have come up with ingenious ways of doing this. Spiders build webs, beavers create dams and we build ‘invisible’ intelligent, supersonic jet fighters.
Crabs and tortoises must look on in awe at such a high-tech exoskeleton.
Proud of your past?
Of course, it wasn’t always like that for humans. There was a period of time when our body and mind was all we had by way of protection. Encounter another hunter gatherer who was in pursuit of the same prey as you and your options included:
- Be the better person and let them pursue the prey. Unfortunately being the better person would be a very transient state, given that foregoing nutrition is unsustainable.
- Square up to your opponent and if your stare down doesn’t work, then a dust up it is. Whilst that is happening, the prey pauses for a moment to give thanks to the stupidity of the bipeds and then scurries off. Nobody eats.
- Wait for your opponent to expend their energy in catching the prey and then ambush them. Given the importance of energy conservation, in order to avoid a drawn-out brawl (rumble in the savanna), you augment yourself with a rock. One strike and she’s out.
Your ancestor chose the third option and that’s why you are here today. So much for equality. On that day, humanity decided to augment itself. On that day, the technology industry was created.
Us, only better
Since then we have seen all manner of augmentations, including the wheel, the printing press and the original exoskeleton, excluding clothing, the car. More recently, we have augmented ourselves with desktop computers and smartphones.
The Internet enabled us to communicate and collaborate at scale. The Internet of Things (IoT) allowed devices to join the conversation.
As portables, became wearables and as wearables become embeddables (think Wi-fi 6 enabled pacemakers), IoT is becoming the IoT in People (IoTiP).
We have long been on a convergence course with technology. Many of us live primarily digital, rather than physical lives. Ask yourself, what is the ratio of time you have spent doing things that do not involve technology (eg. walking without using Spotify to noise-cancel nature) versus your time in front of a screen.
You are beautiful, yet wasted
We are beautifully engineered. That’s what millions of years of research and development yields. So consider to what extent you utilise your ability to brachiate, climb or vault. If your body is something you primarily use to get your brain to meetings or to leave the Zoom breakout room, you are underutilising your natural gift.
You might argue that these are modern times and Zoom meetings are simply the new medium for ambushing opponents in the acquisition of resources.
You might also argue that we live much longer today than our hunter gatherer ancestors. Compelling arguments, but I hope you sense something isn’t quite right.
It’s for you!
Let’s turn to your mobile phone. Other species must marvel at why we spend so much time engaging with this device. Neuro-exploitation is not new. Power dressing and/or a come-hither countenance exploits our neuro-chemistry around sexual attraction. Smartphones are essentially dopamine dispensers.
Notifications are dopamine pellets and there is no doubt that we like being rewarded. These pellets draw us deeper into the digital realm. A realm where seduction scientists are the new ‘quants’.
Occasionally, I reflect on why I feel mildly excited when a new stapler arrives. This is not because I am a stationery addict or even taking my first steps into self-harm. It is because Amazon has programmed me to anticipate receipt of my order in the same way a child gets excited by the prospect of a parent arriving home with a birthday present. Anticipation is the pellet.
Amazon has thus taught me a new trick. Much like the dog owner who can make their pooch salivate on demand. In essence, Amazon has programmed me. And of course its not just Amazon. And hopefully it’s not just me.
You as a service
So the natural extension of our augmentation is for us to become fully programmable. And this is much easier if we spend significant time in the digital realm. This is human sophistication at its highest. I laid out three options above in the original battle for resources. There is a fourth. You capture the prey and gladly hand it over to me. This is in effect what these emotional architects have constructed. The Facebooks and Amazons of this world are exemplars in this respect. But it is not limited to commerce and social media.
Homo sapiens appears to have become ‘Homo programmable’.
So to finish up this post. Take slow even breaths. Become increasingly sensitive to the sounds and smells around you. Count one hundred breaths. Pause. Then click here to become an early investor in my new Kickstarter project. It’s called, ‘My Retirement Accelerator’.