Don't believe me. Ask Gartner. A recent press release introducing the 2018 version of their well-known hype chart contained a powerful and unsettling headline.
Gartner Identifies Five Emerging Technology Trends That Will Blur the Line Between Human and Machine.
I had to read it a couple of times. And as you dig a bit deeper into the document, you find another unquestionable reference to this monumental claim.
Over the next decade, humanity will begin its “transhuman” era: Biology can then be hacked, depending on lifestyle, interests and health needs. Biohacking falls into four categories: technology augmentation, nutrigenomics, experimental biology and grinder biohacking.
Now take a deep breath.
We have both an event and a timeline that clearly puts transhumanism front and center of our changing world. Over the next decade, yes a decade, health technology will emerge as both profound and functional—saving lives, extending lives and even redefining life. The Gartner report pushes the bounds of our "human sensibilities" with the introduction of even a contemporary lexicon that includes "nutrigenomics" and "grinder biochacking". I don't know about you, but I had to look them both up to get a solid understanding of these terms. Of course, these ideas aren't new. And the brave new world of biohacking, I mean grinder biohacking, is fodder for edgy and future forward media outlets as well as the nightly news. What interests me is the shift to a more commonplace reference like Gartner report. Their analysis of over 2,000 innovations from quantum computing to augmented reality, lead them to choose that fine line between man and machine. It's important and a bold wake-up call to humanity.
Beyond the technical realities of human transformation lies another and perhaps deeper concern.
However, questions remain about how far society is prepared to accept these kinds of applications and what ethical issues they create.
It's clear that the moral and ethical issues—real and imagined—will be inexorably connected to each other. Further, these emotional hot spots will impact movement forward. The proverbial inflection point chart for human transformation may actually steal the spotlight from the Gartner Hype Cycle and become the "big idea" slide that appears everywhere from Gartner to Meeker to even your PowerPoint slide.
What used to be something looming in the future and taking shape only from yesterday's science fiction movies, is now a very present reality. It's taking shape at the speed of life. The distinction between man and machine will redefine our world and lives. And it's beginning to take shape in a real and tangible way today.
A version of this article first appeared on Forbes.
John is the #1 global influencer in digital health and generally regarded as one of the top global strategic and creative thinkers in this important and expanding area. He is also one the most popular speakers around the globe presenting his vibrant and insightful perspective on the future of health innovation. His focus is on guiding companies, NGOs, and governments through the dynamics of exponential change in the health / tech marketplaces. He is also a member of the Google Health Advisory Board, pens HEALTH CRITICAL for Forbes--a top global blog on health & technology and THE DIGITAL SELF for Psychology Today—a leading blog focused on the digital transformation of humanity. He is also on the faculty of Exponential Medicine. John has an established reputation as a vocal advocate for strategic thinking and creativity. He has built his career on the “science of advertising,” a process where strategy and creativity work together for superior marketing. He has also been recognized for his ability to translate difficult medical and scientific concepts into material that can be more easily communicated to consumers, clinicians and scientists. Additionally, John has distinguished himself as a scientific thinker. Earlier in his career, John was a research associate at Harvard Medical School and has co-authored several papers with global thought-leaders in the field of cardiovascular physiology with a focus on acute myocardial infarction, ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.