Like a lot of you I’ve been playing through Deus Ex: Human Revolution lately, and I couldn’t help thinking about whether or not I’d opt to get augmented. There are quite a few different ways characters are augmented in the game, many much more subtle than the half-machine protagonist. The thought of consciously choosing to replace a limb with a cybernetic seems crazy, but a number of characters seem to have chosen to do just that. Of course, it might be difficult to see an arm as “perfectly good”, when you can buy one that is “perfectly better”.
One of the most interesting concepts in the game though isn’t the arms, legs, and eyes- its the brain implants. At one point you might end up talking to a girl who has bought a chip to help her with analysis, so she can compete with other augmented brokers. This idea is much more scary than the thought of simply getting high-powered arms. The thought that “regular” humans might no longer be able to compete in business and education is not something touched on often in sci-fi. It takes the “bump” that an Ivy League education, or being president of an organization in college gives you and magnifies it. Imagine writing a resume where you list augments rather than skills! “I possess a Mitsubishi Advanced Calculations Unit, an Intel Statistical Analysis Engine, and an ARM Writing/Speaking Package”.
The game portrays augmentation at a stage of evolution where there is no question that augmented individuals are “better” than their normal counterparts. An interesting view though would have been to watch the debate as augmentations were right at the threshold of pushing that boundary. At what point did an ADD correcting chip give a student an unfair advantage, or an arm replacement give a person the ability to start punching through walls? The game’s narrative involves this debate, but far enough in the future that the issue is very black and white.
I for one hope this particular part of the future holds off longer than 2027. I doubt I’d opt to get a new limb or four, but an implanted chip could be crucial to compete. What about you? Would you choose to become less than 100% human to get a boost in one area or another?