we’re wired to augment our world and our selves

Humans are driven to augment our reality, and to augment our own capabilities. It’s the way we’re wired; it’s what we do. From the earliest cave paintings to modern day urban graffiti, we overlay our world with expressions of our inner selves. Architecture, street signs, billboards, fashions — these are all visual and functional augmentations of the physical world. We extend our sensory and cognitive capabilities as well, creating tools that allow us to perceive phenomena beyond the ken of our normal senses — at extremes of scale, distance, time, frequency, complexity, sociality. “Augmented Reality” is simply the next technological framework for expressing the natural human propensity to augment our world and our selves.

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2 Responses to “we’re wired to augment our world and our selves”

  1. Joe McCarthy says:

    Interesting to think about augmented reality as a natural evolutionary step. Your references to “augmenting our selves” reminded me of some extreme examples of what might be called “augmented corporeality” that I saw – and blogged about – at ETech 2007:

    Quinn Norton shared some examples of – and insights into – body hacking, which she defined as “acting on yourself, with or without assistance, to enhance the function of your body or your perceptions”, and in keeping with other forms of hacking, noted that body hacking is [simply?] another form of volition: the freedom to enact your will upon a system.

    • Gene says:

      Joe, I guess the urge to “extend our senses” has been one of the key drivers of scientific and technological development for several centuries. The combination of the physical sciences, traditional turf of sensors and measurement tools, with distributed computation and communication is going to foster some pretty interesting stuff over the next several years.

      And yes, I love Quinn’s first person experiential reporting from the front lines of hacking the sensorium. I wonder where she will draw the line…