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As we stand on the precipice of science fiction into science fact, people say: Hell yeah, I want to augment my eyesight!
They're called glasses, look it up
Dude. Imagine, like, if you had – bear with me – a smartphone, right? But, like, in your HEAD?!
Disregard the fact we already have nature's most powerful known computer sitting inside our noggins, with processing power that not even a million Arm cores running in parallel can replicate, a study from Kaspersky suggests folk are fairly keen on the cyberpunk dream of human augmentation.
Opinium Research surveyed 14,500 adults across 16 countries in Europe and North Africa on behalf of the security firm and found that while 92 per cent would change a physical aspect of themselves, 63 per cent said they would consider improving their bodies with technology.
Retractable 4cm blades under each fingernail? Leg implants that allow you to jump over a house? Nothing as fun as that unfortunately – respondents seemed fixated on physical health (40 per cent) and eyesight (33 per cent).
So sealing one's eye sockets with Molly Millions-style chrome isn't totally off the books, but we're pretty sure this class of technological augmentation is already known as "glasses" or "contact lenses".
Interestingly, Italians were the most receptive to the idea at 81 per cent approval, compared to 33 per cent from the perennially gloomy and sceptical Brits. Some even said they wanted to connect smartphones to their bodies – as though carrying the information superhighway perilously close to the crotch all day every day doesn't count as augmentation.
Just over half of those surveyed said augmentation should be used to be improve quality of life, though 69 per cent expressed concerns that it would only be within reach of the rich, and 88 per cent were worried that bodily tech upgrades would leave them exposed to hackers.
Other key findings include:
- Adults in the UK and France appear to be most sceptical about human augmentation, with 36 per cent of Brits and 30 per cent of French adults against the concept
- More than half of adults in France (53 per cent) and the UK (52 per cent) believe human augmentation will be dangerous for society, way above the study average of 39 per cent
- Being able to augment to create a more attractive body appealed to more than a third (36 per cent) of women and just a quarter (25 per cent) of men, while men are more interested in improving their strength (23 per cent) than women (18 per cent)
- Nearly half (47 per cent) of those interviewed believe governments should regulate human augmentation. The UK is most in favour of government intervention (77 per cent) and Greece is the most resistant (17 per cent)
- A third of people (33 per cent) are "excited" by the idea of human augmentation, but women (21 per cent) are slightly more likely than men (15 per cent) to say they are more concerned than excited by augmentation
Kaspersky analysis chief Marco Preuss commented: "Human augmentation is one of the most significant technology trends today. We're already seeing a wide range of practical applications being deployed across the everyday areas of our lives like health and social care, sport, education and transport. Exoskeletons for fire and rescue or the bioprinting of organs are a couple of examples.
"But people are right to be wary. Augmentation enthusiasts are already testing the limits of what's possible, but we need commonly agreed standards to ensure augmentation reaches its full potential while minimising the risks."
With multibillionaire mad lad Elon Musk out there stuffing silicon into live pigs in pursuit of brain-computer interfaces, perhaps we are indeed on our way to the cyberpunk future.
Anyway, when and if we get there, I'll have the one with the extendable [that's quite enough of that – ed]. How about you? ®