New Tech and HR: Bio Augmentation, Bio Hacking – Seriously

There are a number of emerging technologies that will be coming to commercial reality in the next 3 to 5 years that are going to pose some interesting challenges to the world of Human Resources. This will be the first of several articles to discuss some of these amazing new technologies, that really do exist, and the potential implications for Human Resources.

Bio Augmentation and Bio Hacking. 

Bio Augmentation and/or Bio Hacking is the idea of using technology to enhance one’s physical capabilities. This can occur in a wide range of capabilities such as increased physical capabilities (e.g. think Iron Man suit) to increased mental capabilities. The neural bio-hacking community has known for many years about transcranial Stimulation (tDCS) – which is essentially the idea of passing a smaller higher voltage to portions of the brain for increased performance. While oversimplifying a bit, this is the equivalent of putting a 9-volt battery on certain parts of your skull to gain increased focus, etc. There is a company called Thync that sells a commercial kit that allows the user to get enhanced concentration skills by using their technology.

But this is just the beginning! Facebook just announced some of their secret Building 8 Programs and they are working on a number of brain-interface technologies. They want to make it so someone can type 100 words a minute, and also be able to hear via their skin. Elon Musk is also in the fray too – as he started a company called Neuralink that is working on building high bandwidth safe brain interfaces.

Do we like you or your tech? 

Take a minute to reflect on this, in the very near future – we are going to have individuals in society who will be “enhanced” and will be able to perform differently due to their integration with technology. Think about a manager who shows enhanced empathy, or a data scientist who has increased focus, or a journalist who can type 100 words a minute – all due to some sort of tech. This, of course, brings about some very interesting Human Capital questions that we will have do develop positions on:

  1. Interviewing and Assessments – What will we do when individuals show up to interviews and assessments with transcranial enhancers? Realize that these aren’t permanent so someone could borrow their friend’s and be able to perform great in an interview.
  2. Productivity and Performance Management – Think about someone who will have the Musk interface (e.g. brain connection to the internet). I can’t even imagine what that looks like from a productivity standpoint! But at what point, do companies offer to provide such tools for their employees?
  3. BYOD? Just for fun – if you think some firms have had issues wrapping their heads around a Bring Your Own Device to work policy – imagine when some young college graduate comes to you asking for the network password so he can connect his brain to the network!

Even in writing this, it sounds very strange to contemplate but go back to Elon Musk’s site. These are not just interesting Science Fiction ideas, but companies are hiring true scientists to work on this and Facebook has some versions of working prototypes.

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