Brain-machine interfaces can help to augment human consciousness in three different ways.16
First, augmenting the sensory inputs that define existing consciousness could redefine the resulting consciousness. Restoring and augmenting sensory inputs to consciousness is already done by gene therapy, cochlear and retinal implants. Secondly, interfacing with a different type of body could augment consciousness by expanding the human body map. Robotic appendages with different, non-human degrees of freedom are already at work in factories and in surgical suites. These make their operators navigate the world with a different body plan thereby altering their mental model of the world. While all brain machine interfaces start out in the therapeutic space, these will not make a big societal impact until they are in mainstream use. As more occupations and leisure activities incorporate such devices, future brain machine interfaces could couple humans to exoskeletons with different numbers of limbs or entirely different body plans, or to virtual environments. Third, altering the environment we experience in virtual reality could change our perception of and relationship to the spatial world by, for example, putting us into several places at the same time.