Level Up Human

Gill Haddow

Friday 8th April 2016

I don’t get out very often (as most people I know will agree with) but last night I went to an event at the Edinburgh International Science Festival called ‘Level Up Human’.  Simon Watt (President of the ‘Ugly Animal preservation society’ http://uglyanimalsoc.com/ ) does a fantastic job of helping the panellists and audience think about what it would mean if ‘evolution was prodded;’ that is, with a little bit of extra help from xeno- or cybernetic enhancements.  It was a light-hearted look and so the two panellists Eli Sheppard – studying brain-computer interfaces and automatic speech recognition (http://www.edinburgh-robotics.org/students/eli-sheppard and Michael Wheeler,  a philosopher, http://www.hdc.ed.ac.uk/prof-michael-wheeler were invited to pitch to Gemma Flynn comedienne and criminologist (http://www.law.ed.ac.uk/people/gemmaflynn) so that she could choose her favourite ‘level up human’.

Despite the winner being a language chip for pets; other proposals included night vision (for environmental reasons); implantable nano-bots; additional limb prosthetics to reach the items on the supermarket top-shelf or synaesthesia-type vests so that you can feel what is being said to you.  I enjoyed the evening; what was not to like?  It was fun, light-hearted and not to be taken too seriously although issues such as gender inequality, data security, consent, interpretation and translation, and the Turing test were actually all in there.

Tweet your ideas for levelling up to @LevelUpHuman

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