Technologies of Human Enhancement


Human enhancement technologies (HET) are techniques that can be used not simply for treating illness and disability, but also for enhancing human characteristics and capacities. The expression “human enhancement technologies” is relative to emerging technologies and converging technologies. In some circles, the expression “human enhancement” is roughly synonymous with human genetic engineering, it is used most often to refer to the general application of the convergence of nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science (NBIC) to improve human performance.

Existing technologiesHuman Enhancement

  • Reproductive technology
    • Embryo selection by preimplantation genetic diagnosis
    • Cytoplasmic transfer
    • In vitro-generated gametes
  • Physically:
    • Cosmetic enhancement: plastic surgery and orthodontics
    • Drug-induced: doping and performance-enhancing drugs
    • Functional: Prosthetics and powered exoskeletons
    • Medical: implants (e.g. pacemaker, magnetic implants) and organ replacements
  • Mentally:
    • Nootropics, drugs, neurostimulation devices, supplements, nutraceuticals, and functional foods that improve mental functions such as cognition, memory, intelligence, motivation, attention, and concentration.
    • Computers, cell phones, Internet, and any pieces of technology that enhance the human condition in ways that make it more efficient. For example, making schedules, keeping a list of phone numbers, communication with others, general information storage, etc.

Emerging technologies

  • Human genetic engineering
  • Neural implants
  • Nanomedicine
  • Brain–computer interface
  • Neurotechnology
  • Cyberware
  • Gene therapy
  • Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence
  • Blind Navigation Devices

Speculative technologies

  • Mind uploading, the hypothetical process of “transferring”/”uploading” or copying a conscious mind from a brain to a non-biological substrate by scanning and mapping a biological brain in detail and copying its state into a computer system or another computational device.
  • Exocortex, a theoretical artificial external information processing system that would augment a brain’s biological high-level cognitive processes.
  • Endogenous artificial nutrition, such as having a radioisotope generator that resynthesizes glucose (similarly to photosynthesis), amino acids and vitamins from their degradation products, theoretically availing for weeks without food if necessary.


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