Younger age groups were primarily interested in how brain-computer interfaces could be used to enhance healthy individuals. However, although most of the discussion is positive, mRNA vaccines, particularly their use in experimental gene therapies, face scepticism in Europe and North America. People in Africa are more focused on social inequality and conflict arising from human augmentation, while in Central and South America, concerns centre around cyber threats to the body. Discussions of the high costs of gene therapies dominate in Asia.
It is worth noting that our new emerging topics for 2022 — future therapeutics and organoids — received more negative sentiment than other fields within Human Augmentation. The COVID-19 pandemic (and in particular mRNA COVID-19 vaccines seems to have overshadowed the acceptance of new treatment innovations involving synthetic biology.
Within the sentiment analysis clouds below each node represents one article and the linkages between dots show relations between topics in the analysed data.
Negative sentiment is centered around:
- Medical conditions and diseases for which there aren’t many treatment options available, as well as next-generation treatment possibilities.
- Fear of COVID-19 vaccination and its expedited approval process.
- Fear of institutions and authorities; this is apparent in conspiracy theories and discussion about the “Great Reset”, “Experimental Gene Therapy” and Bill Gates.
- Fear of losing mental autonomy through BCI, HMI, changes in brain plasticity and the susceptibility to cyber threats.
Neutral/mixed sentiment is centered around:
- Application possibilities of using light and genetic engineering technologies (optogenetics) to control and monitor cells (discussions around human applications were more cautious than more fundamental applications, such as controlling insects or nematodes).
- Personal experiences with immunotherapy treatments and the discussion surrounding the benefits, side effects, complexity and length of such treatments.
- Using electrical stimulation to regenerate nervous systems and treat spinal cord injuries or restore sense of balance through in-ear implant.
- Brain stimulation and its application possibilities in cognitive diseases including depression, autism, Parkinson’s, OCD, essential tremor, alleviating consequences of strokes or elevating human mental capacity.
- Market reports on biotechnology growth prospects, partnerships and mergers & acquisitions.
- The use of BCI/HMI for military applications as a “necessary evil”.
Positive sentiment is centered around:
- Research and development efforts underway in immunotherapy, and in the use of organoids and bioprinting for personalised regenerative medicine and to study human evolution.
- Current market developments in therapeutics, such as the collaborations between smaller and large players to realise next-generation treatments and set up their pipeline for future success, and the recent approval of a multitude of new treatment options targeting different cancers.
- The first successes in clearing legal/ethical hurdles for technologies in selected geographies, such as China and Chile.
- The prospect of using Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI) to “augment” humans and prolong life.
- The potential for using Human Machine Interfaces (HMI) in business processes and consumer products.
- The promise and reported success of using gene-based treatments to treat a multitude of diseases and conditions.