Touch, sight, taste, hearing, and smell. The human organism is nothing short of a sensory marvel. Engineered over many millennia, it has adapted to interface effectively with its environment through these five primary senses.
Survival is perhaps the most widely believed reason for why our senses came to be. However, with modernity, another underlying reason has surfaced: to facilitate nuanced human interactions and to forge new and profound connections with our world. These connections have been enhanced by our current technological epoch. Yet, as we proceed into a more interconnected world, what effect will these technological advancements have on our innate sensory abilities, and could they contribute to the erasure of our human faculties?
To answer these questions, we must first recognise that in our relentless pursuit of innovation, we are now advancing towards the era of a technological “sixth sense”—an integrated and ubiquitous technology, capable of carrying out essential human functions. In this quest, we must not forget the five basic human faculties that have brought us to our current point in evolution.
As we proceed into a more interconnected world, what effect will the technological advancements have on our innate sensory abilities, and could they contribute to the erasure of our human faculties?
Why do we sense? Simply put, it is our primal method of comprehending and navigating the world. Each of our senses provides unique information that allows us to understand, interpret, and respond to our surroundings. Collectively, they are the bedrock of our cognition and shape our perceptions, whilst guiding the interactions within our immediate environment.
Take sight, for example. In the great civilisations of antiquity, the human ability of sight was limited to our genetic makeup. Today, biomedical advancements such as laser eye surgery, contact lenses, and glasses have enhanced our eyesight to near perfection. Clearly, when it comes to sight, technology is already enhancing our capabilities. Coupled with the rapidly advancing sensor industry, the vision of an all-encompassing “sixth sense” comes into focus.
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