Augmented humanity can be defined as “a human–computer integration technology that proposes to improve capacity and productivity by changing or increasing the normal ranges of human function through the restoration or extension of human physical, intellectual, and social capabilities” . The term was first coined in 2010, at the Internationale Funkausstellung conference, and has since been the subject of research mainly in the fields of “computer science and automation and control systems” . However, the integration of human and artificial agents suggested by augmented humanity is hardly a technological issue. It has a strong impact on economies, social processes, and culture.
This book seeks to explain the implications of “close collaboration between human and artificial agents” for individuals, groups, and collectives, focusing on the challenges of augmented agency “due to the differences between human and artificial capabilities and potentialities” that might lead to dysfunctional patterns of thought and behavior .
To this end, the book builds on current models of agency from cognitive theory to define the parameters and mechanisms that describe agentic form and function. These are used to guide the analysis of the impact of digital augmentation on human capabilities, namely modality, problem-solving, cognitive empathy, self-regulation, evaluation of performance, learning, and self-generation.
The recurring topic throughout the book: when human and artificial agents combine in augmented agency, the result can be capability divergence or convergence. In the first case, human functioning might conflict with artificial functioning. On the other hand, convergence may lead to artificial agents dominating the collaboration, thus encouraging docility and dependence, or to human biases affecting artificial agents, thus amplifying human limitations. The challenge is joint supervision of the augmentation in ways that exploit new capabilities while respecting human choices and commitments. This, according to the author, requires the development of a multidisciplinary approach that joins human and computer sciences as well as neuroscience and related fields of human science and engineering.
Overall, this book provides an insightful introduction to the social and behavioral implications of human-computer integration, aimed at a wide audience from both human and computer sciences. The proposed conceptualization of augmented agency can provide a structural basis for exploring intelligence augmentation and promote further research in the field.