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Majority of Europeans would consider human augmentation, study finds

The survey exposed a huge divide between northern and southern Europe

Almost two-thirds of Europeans would consider augmenting their bodies with tech, according to new research from cybersecurity firm Kaspersky.

The survey of more than 14,000 people in 16 countries showed views vary widely between different demographic groups. People in southern Europe and Morocco — the only non-European country in the survey — were far more open to the prospect than their northern neighbors.

A whopping 81% of Italians said they’d consider human augmentation — despite more than half thinking it’s dangerous for society — compared to just a third (33%) of Brits.

Credit: Kaspersky
Just 9% of Spaniards were against human augmentation, compared to 36% of Britons and 30% of French adults.

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Unsurprisingly, the respondents’ ages had a strong link to their specific desires. Older people had more support for augmentation that would improve their health,  while younger respondents were more focused on enhancing their appearance and sporting abilities.

There were also significant differences in gender perspectives. Almost half (48%) of men felt it was “completely” or “mostly” acceptable to augment a body with technology, compared to 38% of women.

Men were also more likely to desire greater strength (23% compared to 18% of women), while women were keener on getting a more attractive body (36% versus 25%). But only 2% of women would like to enhance their genitals, compared to just over one in (11%) ten men.

However, all supporters of human augmentation shared the same priorities: improving their physical health and quality of life.

Risks and rewards

The respondents also had major concerns about our cyborg future. Almost seven in ten (69%) of them expect only rich people will be able to enjoy access to human augmentation technology, while 88% fear their augmented bodies could be hacked by cybercriminals. But those risks won’t prevent everyone from embracing the tech.

“As with other technology, we’ll see early adopters who are willing to compromise their security for the perceived benefits of augmentation,” said Kaspersky’s Marco Preuss.

Credit: Kaspersky
Women (21%) were slightly more likely than men (15%) to be more concerned than excited by augmentation.

The study also found that people were far more likely to support existing human augmentation, such as pacemakers, than potential future augmentation.

But Professor Julian Savulescu of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at Oxford University believes that could rapidly change.

“With human augmentation, we’ll need a few pioneers and some success stories,” he said. “Once it’s proven to work, people will vote with their feet.”

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Published September 18, 2020 — 15:27 UTC