What happens when humans become digital? This is the question that Dr. Divya Chander – a physician and neuroscientist who trained at Harvard, UCSD, UCSF and the Salk Institute – delves into during her DLD20 talk about human augmentation, “a new movement of neuro body design.” While this movement began as a way to help people with disabilities, she says it has since expanded beyond that.
From a cyborg artist that has an antenna-like sensor implanted into his skull to people who are inserting RFID implants with medical records into their body, Dr. Chander gives the audience a rundown of the many kinds of augmentation practices that are being developed right now. Of course, augmenting the human body also leads to ethical questions and more controversial issues, like what happens when people start designing the babies that they want?
“What are our digital ethics around humanhood? If we are digitizing the neural code and we are digitizing the genetic code, we open to ourselves reading humans without our permission, writing humans without their permission and manipulating them,” she says. “As we are augmenting them and treating their diseases, we are forcing humans to evolve beyond homo sapiens and potentially making them a target for hacking.”
A physician and neuroscientist, Dr. Chander is Chair of the Neuromedicine Faculty at Singularity University. Her goal is to understand neural mechanisms of consciousness and eventually utilize this knowledge to develop improved algorithms to create better brain monitors. She is currently working on applications of neural wearable devices to crossover consumer and medical markets.