Rage against the machines? Europeans reveal their hopes and fears for a cyborg future
March 2021 by Kaspersky
New research carried out by security company Kaspersky unveils disparity across Europe over a future shared with augmented people – in their family, workplace, and even personal life. The study finds that a lack of understanding around human augmentation could be holding back exciting developments.
Nearly half (46.5%) of European adults believe that people should be free to enhance their own body with human augmentation technology, but many harbour concerns about the longer-term societal impact of such tech. This is according to a new pan-European study from global cybersecurity expert, Kaspersky.
Human augmentation comes in two forms: it can either required due to health grounds – such as the use of bionic limb – or people can choose to augment themselves, for example, by inserting radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips.
Kaspersky’s wide-reaching study of 6,500 adults across seven European nations finds that just 12% of Europeans would be opposed to working with an augmented person because they feel they have an unfair advantage in the workplace. However, nearly two in every five (39%) European adults have concerns that human augmentation could lead to either future social inequality or conflict. Overall, nearly half (49%) of Europeans are either “excited” or “optimistic” about a future society that includes both augmented and non-augmented people.
According to Kaspersky’s study, more than half (51%) of Europeans say that they have met someone with an augmentation. When it comes to personal life, nearly half (45%) of Europeans would have no issue dating someone with an augmentation, and 5.5% of Europeans say that they have already dated an augmented person.
More than a third say they have “always been accepting” of augmented people and 17% say that they are more accepting now than they were ten years ago. Half of European men (50%) say that they are either “excited” or “optimistic” about the future shared by both augmented and non-augmented people, compared to 40% of women.
If a family member required augmentation technology on health grounds, people would be most comfortable if a family member had a bionic arm (38%) or leg (37%), with the UK most accepting. When it came to voluntary augmentation, adults in Portugal (56%) and Spain (51%) are the most likely to say that people should do as they choose with their body, with the UK least likely to agree at 36%. Nearly three in ten (29.5%) Europeans would support a family member who decided to augment themselves, regardless of their choice, with the Portuguese most supportive at 46% and French least supportive at 19%.
Just 16.5% of Europeans view choosing to augment oneself as “weird”, ranging from just eight percent in Portugal to 30% in the UK, while nearly a quarter (24%) view self-augmentation as “brave”.
Just over a quarter (27%) believe that augmented people should have special representation at a governmental level, compared to 41% who oppose the idea. The results are unveiled to coincide with Kaspersky’s online debate with leading augmentation experts on 17 March as part of the company’s Kaspersky NEXT 2021 event* and builds on Kaspersky’s Future of Human Augmentation 2020 report.
Marco Preuss, Director of the Global Research & Analysis Team, Europe, for Kaspersky, commented:
“While we find broad support and interest in human augmentation across Europe, there are understandable concerns around the implications of human augmentation for society. Governments, industry leaders and augmented people must come together to help shape the future of human augmentation together, so we can ensure that this exciting industry develops in a way that is regulated and safe for everyone.”
Hannes Sapiens Sjöblad, Managing Director and Co-founder of DSruptive Subdermals, added:
"Human augmentation technology should not be thought of as high-end, high-tech solutions for the few and privileged. It must be affordable and accessible to all - everyone should be able to enjoy the benefits of augmentation.”