The human body is a remarkable example of the process of evolution which ultimately created a sentient being with cognitive, motor, and information-processing abilities. The body can also be thought of as an amazing feat of engineering, and specifically as an example of molecular nanotechnology, positioning trillions of cells throughout the body, and creating the billions of unique individuals that have existed since the beginning of humanity. On the other hand, from an engineering perspective, there are numerous limitations associated with the human body and the process of evolution to effect changes in the body is exceedingly slow. For example, our skeletal structure is only so strong, our body is subject to disease, and we are programmed by our DNA to age. Further, it took millions of years for Homo sapiens
to evolve and hundreds of thousands of years for hominids to invent the most basic technology. To allow humans to go beyond the capabilities that evolution provided Homo sapiens
, current research is leading to technologies that could significantly enhance the cognitive and motor abilities of humans and eventually create the conditions in which humans and technology could merge to form a cybernetic being. Much of this technology is being developed from three fronts: due to medical necessity, an interest within the military to create a cyborg soldier, and the desire among some people to self-enhance their body with technology. This article discusses the processes of biological evolution which led to the current anatomical, physiological, and cognitive capabilities of humans and concludes with a discussion of emerging technologies which are directed primarily at enhancing the cognitive functions performed by the brain. This article also discusses a timeframe in which the body will become increasingly equipped with technology directly controlled by the brain, then as a major paradigm shift in human evolution, humans will merge with the technology itself.
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