National Intelligence Council Predicts Mechflesh

The NIC expects that mechflesh will exist in the next twenty years:

Spanning a wide gamut of technologies, ranging from implants and prosthetics to powered exoskeletons, human augmentation enhances innate human abilities, or replaces missing or defective functions such as damaged limbs. Prosthetic limbs have now reached the stage where they offer equivalent or slightly improved functionality to human limbs. Brain-machine interfaces in the form of brain-implants are demonstrating that directly bridging the gap between brain and machine is possible. Military organizations are experimenting with a wide range of augmentation technologies, including exoskeletons that allow personnel to carry increased loads and psychostimulants that allow personnel to operate for longer periods.

Human augmentation could allow civilian and military people to work more effectively, and in environments that were previously inaccessible. Elderly people may benefit from powered exoskeletons that assist wearers with simple walking and lifting activities, improving the health and quality of life for aging populations. Successful prosthetics probably will be directly integrated with the user’s body. Brain-machine interfaces could provide “superhuman” abilities, enhancing strength and speed, as well as providing functions not previously available.

As replacement limb technology advances, people may choose to enhance their physical selves as they do with cosmetic surgery today. Future retinal eye implants could enable night vision, and neuro-enhancements could provide superior memory recall or speed of thought. Neuro-pharmaceuticals will allow people to maintain concentration for longer periods of time or enhance their learning abilities. Augmented reality systems can provide enhanced experiences of real-world situations. Combined with advances in robotics, avatars could provide feedback in the form of sensors providing touch and smell as well as aural and visual information to the operator.

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