Augmentation, the Fallacy of Same-ness, and Capabilities

Lueg, Christopher (2016). 'Augmentation, the Fallacy of Same-ness, and Capabilities' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.

topics: Inclusion and Exclusion, Technology and Innovation, Diversity

abstract: We tend to assume that human bodies are somewhat similar, at least sufficiently similar to treat them as if they were the same ("everybody"). There is a whole literature on gender issues, including Nussbaum's work in the context of CA, but the argument holds regardless.   With this poster we wish to challenge the assumption that everybody is the same or that everybody experiences the world the same way which we argue is an assumption underlying the market forces driving human augmentation, a market expected to reach up to $1135 million by 2020 [Markets&Markets, via www.augmented-human.com].   We wish to challenge the CA community to consider as to how technical progress in technological augmentation--which will take place primarily in the developed world due to required infrastructure and affordability--will impact on development work.   In turn, we wish to challenge, and engage with, the Augmented Human (AH) community to think beyond augmenting "typical" humans. What does the community aim to achieve in the long run? Amplify already existing differences in how we experience the world? Like running twice as fast or hearing twice as good? Or create a uniform experience for all? Being aware of these and similar questions may greatly influence how AH will contribute to human development, and humanity, in the long term.   We set out to challenge the assumption that everybody is the same or that everybody experiences the world the same way, and to challenge the AH community to think beyond augmenting typical humans as there are no typical humans: "[...] every human thought and action is adapted to the environment, that is, situated, because what people perceive, how they conceive of their activity, and what they physically do develop together" (Clancey 1997). In fact the argument could be extended to the once popular fallacy that genotypes determine phenotypes (Lewontin 1991).    Does augmenting specific aspects of human perception or only the perception of specific people change existing power relationships? Create different power relationships? Does it create inequalities that do not exist yet or amplify existing ones? These questions link CA and AH communities and we believe establishing a dialog would benefit both sides.  

scroll to top