Please forgive me while I argue with myself…
Currently it appears that within the Transhuman community, the terms “Augmentation” and “Enhancement” are loosely interchangeable, and are more readily defined as needed within the rhetoric itself
The subjectivity of the english language may be instrumental in alleviating the tensions that bio-luddites harbour again biohacking or transhumanist.
I hate to blindly submit to argumentum ad populum, but if dictionaries are indeed descriptive and not prescriptive (i.e. popular usage dictates meaning) then in everyday conversations we have opportunities to nudge syntax in an amenable direction, at least in the English language.
Without postulating about synaptic associations, neuroplasticity, and the malleability of human language I would posit that,
“Regarding Experimental Biohacking technologies; Augmentation should be the preferential term over Enhancement”
I justify this considering both shortcomings of usage and effect regarding the word Enhancement.
Descriptive weakness of Enhancement: Whether the technology is enhancement or not would be more reliably concluded in retrospect. 10 years of electromagnetism vs 15 years of heavy metal poisoning may not qualify as enhancement. I.e. leave it to the anthropologists.
Exacerbations of hostility towards Other: Unfortunately, it seems a recurring pattern in human nature that the ‘other’ generally spooks the mainstream population.
In theory, an Other under the description “enhanced” implies a difference wherein the ‘enhanced’ party is better. This undeniable this will subliminally exacerbate the negative effects of the divide.
I’ve pondered this for a while and intuitively I agree with the posit.
This makes me suspicious. Am I pushing a bias?
Considering this I should like to make a case for Enhancement and subsequently, explore the divide between the words. My first posits seemingly just discredit Enhancement in favour of Augmentation – surely Enhancement has some pros!
So. Why use would the word Enhancement be better regarding usage and effect?
I would posit…
Inseparability of H+ and STEM field: Enhancement is already in usage within stem fields to refer to Human Enhancement Technology. It already has practical definition. I would not posit this on the basis of traditionalism and time immemorial – but for the sake of consistency and non-convolution. If the developers of what we would class ‘transhuman technologies’ refer to them as HET – then it seems logical it is continued to avoid any confusion between the developer and user considering the importance of interaction between the two parties.
Descriptive Philosophical disposition: it could be argued that using Enhancement in regard to the Homosapien species is more amenable to Augmentation when considering individual bias towards change.
Enhancement implies the improvement of Humans. Change as Improvement.
Augmentations implies the changing of Humans. Change as Difference.
To extrapolate the point, it cultivates a shift toward being better humans as opposed a shift from being human. It is arguable that Enhancement more accurately represents the overall goals of transhumanism – to improve the human condition.
Within consideration of both words, my main focus appear to be the practical usage of the word, and subsequently the sociological effects.
As far as practical usage of these terms, the problems with the division are raised through the ambiguity and interchangeability of the words.
The definition of Enhancement technologies within STEM fields should have some continuity between the developer and the user – its practical – engaging in rhetoric where there is an unaddressed divide between academic usage and prescriptive definitions; often feels like a shifting of the goal post or a bait-and-switch.
Admittedly, as someone who studied at a tertiary level, I am guilty of this as well.
However, this particular difficulty of discernment between the two definitions can be addressed in a question,
If I referred to HET as Human Augmentation Technologies to academics and developers- would this impede the rhetoric?
I would posit it would not, on the grounds there is a higher probability that the academic would understand what the layman meant, but a lower probability of the layman understanding the wider academic context.
Everyone has been a layman, not everyone have been an developer. Academic definition within rhetoric may be useful, but not as practical in everyday usage.
In regard to a wider effect on society, the former arguments appear to imply
Augmentation fosters less of a sociological divide via the implication of being ‘different’, not ‘better’.
Enhancement fosters the spirit of long-term Transhuman goals to be better ‘humans’.
Putting these two together, whilst I hate reductionist behaviour, I believe we can reduce it to a simple psychosociological premise –
Is it more apt for the rhetoric to placate fears and reduce friction or to encourage and inspire Transhumanism?
Unfortunately, I can’t objectively answer this and evidently, it’s all conjecture. From my position (postulating that Transhumanism is an process or action not an ideology of belief that it is inherently good) I would posit that the former is a ‘better’ use, on the grounds that,
The main obstacle of Transhumanism is not it ‘happening’ – it’s already happening – those inspired and encouraged will the inspired or encouraged regardless. The main obstacle is ‘fear’ of it happening which I would be so bold to say distills hate and subsequently persecution.
Following this premise, the most amenable and efficient development for both parties (forgive the false dichotomy of Transhuman enthusiasts and Bio-luddites) would involve working together to minimise risk and maximise potential.
The implicit meaning behind Augmentation facilitates neutral ground more than the word Enhancement.
In conclusion – I am somewhat partial to Augmentation over the word Enhancement.
I can understand the usage of the word can be used interchangeably, however if we are not explicit in an academic context for definition – it should be accurate to the lowest common denominator (the layman) and furthermore, should outline what it is not what we want it to be. Augmentation should precede Enhancement on the grounds that change must occur before it can be deemed good or bad.
Regarding wider psychosociological ramifications of the word – I stand by the posit that Augmentation fosters more neutral grounds for rhetoric and development than the word Enhancement, as when used as an adjective, Enhancement has implicit hierarchical functionality whereas augmentation simply outlines difference.
[If anyone can provide the legitimate source for the Display Image I would greatly appreciate a link – to attribution and to explore the artists work]