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What Is Augmented Humanity–And Why You Should Care

This article is part of our March 2019 series about emerging technology. Click here for more.

Technology continues to play a key role in the customer experience. The developments we’re seeing have the potential to transform fundamental aspects of the way we live.

This has brought into focus the relationship between technology and humans. At Isobar, we refer to this as “augmented humanity.” More specifically, we define this as “what happens when humans work in harmony with technology and machine intelligence to expand and enrich life, helping us to experience more, and in deeper ways, to make better decisions and to fulfill our potential as humans.”

Augmented humanity impacts everything, from how we work and travel, to how we shop and engage with our favorite brands. Importantly, it changes the time we spend on repetitive manual tasks that can be automated, optimized, or digitized.

But that’s just for starters. Here are five key themes about augmented humanity that we believe will have implications for businesses going forward.

1. The Evolving Interface
The way humans interact with technology is changing dramatically. One of the key drivers is voice technology, which removes the physical layer and enables us to access information as quickly as we can think about it. This has implications across the whole digital ecosystem. Meaning that brands now need to think about how they survive in an environment where optimization for voice search is vitally important.

A key driver of developments in the human/machine interface is the desire to remove friction. This trend can be seen strongly in the physical retail space, where the concept of unattended retail–for example, Amazon Go stores–is challenging traditional notions about how we shop.

2. The Human Algorithm
As we become increasingly reliant on digital technology, these interactions will be producing a wealth of data. Organizations are increasingly finding ways to put our secure personal data to use to augment their understanding of us and transform experiences. Powerful developments are being made across the health and wellness sector (think: health-care professionals monitoring the data coming from an IoT device), as well as in the financial services and insurance sector, offering services tailored to an individual level based on our behavioral data.

3. The Fluid Vs. The Collective Self
Advances in digital technology have enabled two very different realities to flourish.

On the one hand, we now enjoy more choice in almost everything we consume, with the ability to obtain it at the click of a button. As a result of this drastically expanded range of choices, we now have the opportunity to behave in more fluid, unpredictable ways–making us increasingly hard to pin down and categorize.

On the other hand, digital technology has also facilitated group experiences, making it easier for us to connect with large, like-minded groups of people wherever they are in the world. This powerful capacity to appeal to the human need for a sense of belonging lets brands reach a mass market.

As a result of this duality, brands are facing fundamental questions about their operating and marketing strategies. Brands need to understand where they sit when considering the balance between doing things for everyone and engaging in personalization at scale.

4. The Trust Paradox
The rise in the creation of questionable content is making it increasingly difficult to distinguish between what is and what isn’t real. To help us decipher the truth, machines will need to augment our own ability to recognize the small details that raise our eyebrows–identifying patterns that act as signals of a false reality that perhaps we can’t identify ourselves. Blockchain, which addresses issues of transparency, privacy, and fraud, is one of the technologies that potentially can help.

5. The Transformed Experience
At Isobar we use the term “extended reality” (XR) to capture the possibilities offered by augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality. XR demonstrates how advanced technologies and creative processes are changing our own realities. It allows us to temporarily inhabit and experience a world that may normally be closed to us or impossible to imagine otherwise. From a creative perspective, this is genuinely revolutionary, opening up the possibility of truly augmented art forms.

The changes we’re seeing have the potential to transform fundamental aspects of our human existence, helping us to live better lives. It is our job to harness its power and potential for our businesses.

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