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Superhuman News 🤖 - The Off-Piste Boulder

Peter Joosten MSc.
Peter Joosten MSc.
Hey there,
Wouldn’t it be great if you could control an exoskeleton with your mind? With an external skeleton, you would be able to run much faster and longer, jump higher and lift more weight. Or maybe you can even download additional modules, such as ‘play soccer like Lionel Messi’ or ‘snowboard like Shaun White’.
Every month, I write a future scenario to amaze, inspire, frighten, and make you think about the increasing role of technology in our lives.
In this month’s scenario, I explore controlling an exoskeleton with your thoughts.
Enjoy reading!
Peter
P.S. Let me know what you think of this new format and/or the scenario! It is my ambition to become better in making future scenarios, also for clients, so every bit of feedback is greatly appreciated!

Scenario: The Off-piste Boulder 🏂
After waking up, Dennis lifts his numb legs into the exoskeleton. On the bedside table lies the neural interface Liviu Alpha. The interface translates the brain signals into data for the computer in the exoskeleton. The computer uses algorithms to translate this data into instructions for the little motors and tiny engines that sustain equilibrium and realize movement.
He likes it. After a few weeks of training and calibration, the control of his exoskeleton works seamlessly. It almost feels like the old days. He doesn’t even consciously think about walking. The intention is enough. He feels the small engines spinning, and his right leg moves forward. Exactly at the speed and distance he had envisioned.
Three years ago, Dennis woke up startled in the hospital of Innsbruck, Austria. A sudden crash against a boulder off-piste had left him paralyzed from the fourth vertebra down. After the disbelief, the anger, the sadness and the shock, he is now quite used to walking with his exoskeleton.
This morning he walks to his favorite coffee shop. Multitasking is not a problem. He listens to the illustrious jazz musician Chet Baker, unconsciously controls his exoskeleton, and meanwhile thinks about the offer he has received.
Liviu sent a newsletter about a new module yesterday: snowboarding with your exoskeleton. The Shaun White edition looks really slick. But he has doubts: snowboarding feels like part of his identity before the accident.
Not the new Dennis. And above all: is going down the slope any fun when a machine does all the work?
In the writer's room
I wrote this short story as an assignment for the Clingendael Institute. The story is part of a longer article on brain-computer interfaces. In addition to Dennis, I have also written short future stories about stockbroker Olivia and fighter jet pilot Alison. These stories will also be featured in my newsletter in the coming months.
With Dennis’ story, I explore the combination of two technological developments: exoskeletons and brain-computer interfaces.
Because this is what surprised me when I started researching exoskeletons. The skeleton will only start walking when the wearer presses a button. Not very refined or adapted to the driver’s intentions.
But a future where the thought of walking is quickly followed by actions of an exoskeleton is (hopefully) near. For example, I read this article about a 2019 project by French researchers, where subject Thibault could control his skeleton with his thoughts.
In Dennis’ case, you feel that this combination dramatically increases his quality of life. But you also notice his doubts about the snowboard module. Does a perfect descent where the exoskeleton performs all the movements provide the same sense of accomplishment as learning and performing it yourself?
My video about brain-computer interfaces.
My video about brain-computer interfaces.
Into the Rabbithole
Articles, books, podcasts, videos, documentaries and more on this theme:
1) Dennis’s story is loosely inspired by my conversations with Dennie Jager. He has a spinal cord injury and trains a lot to walk in an exoskeleton. In my (Dutch) book Supermens, he is the main character in one of the chapters.
Every time I speak to or see him, I am impressed by his enthusiasm, optimism and ambitions. Next to his walk training, he studies Industrial Engineering and Management, works a full time job, sports on a high-level with his hand bike, is involved with a start-up ExoDevo, and is active with his foundation Walk On. Awesome!
2) In the book The Future of the Mind, the exuberant scientist Michio Kaku discusses the future of neuroscience. Based on physical boundaries, he explores visions such as telekinesis, controlling avatars, and telepathy. His views sometimes feel exaggerated, but he backs up his claims with principles of physics.
3) Reminiscence is a poorly received 2020 film starring Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson. Nick Bannister (played by Jackman) accompanies customers who want to relive their favorite moments. For this, they put on a headband that locates their memories.
Despite the lukewarm reception, I quite liked the film. For example, the director beautifully portrays the cities of Miami and New Orleans flooded by the climate crisis. The film raises an interesting question. For example, would you like to relive your favorite memories? Or should they stay memories?
Trailer of Reminiscence starring Hugh Jackman
Trailer of Reminiscence starring Hugh Jackman
Webinars & Keynotes
I give lectures (online and offline) about human augmentation, technology ethics, and health care innovation. These are upcoming events where I will give a talk or webinar, in Dutch or English. Great to see you there!
  • Keynote Politieacademie Apeldoorn - 7 april 2022
  • Workshop Graafschap College - 14 april 2022
  • Keynote Facility Matters - 14 april 2022
  • Gastcollege Hogeschool Windesheim - 28 april 2022
  • Keynote bdKo - 16 juni 2022
  • Keynote provincie Flevoland - 22 juni 2022
  • Keynote Verbindingsfestival Zwolle - 7 juli 2022
  • Webinar Digital Innovation in Mental Health - 19 juli 2022 (English)
  • Keynote Biohacker Summit Amsterdam - 13 augustus 2022 (English)
  • Workshop Masterclass Diemen & Van Gestel - 12 oktober 2022
  • Keynote Unica Hengelo in 2022 (datum n.t.b)
Last month I gave a talk at Pivot Park in Oss, the Netherlands. It is a hub for companies and start-ups in pharmacy and medicine. So it was a great place to talk about nootropics and superhumans!
Last month I gave a talk at Pivot Park in Oss, the Netherlands. It is a hub for companies and start-ups in pharmacy and medicine. So it was a great place to talk about nootropics and superhumans!
Thank you
Thank you for reading! This newsletter is free, but not cheap to make.
You can help me in a number of ways: forward it to someone who likes it, subscribe to my YouTube-channel, apply for the Masterclass, hire me to speak, for a webinar, or consultancy. 😘
Hugh Jackman can dance too!
Hugh Jackman can dance too!
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Peter Joosten MSc.
Peter Joosten MSc. @PeterJoostenOrg

A monthly newsletter about human enhancement, biohacking and transhumanism. I share the latest news, in-depth pieces, and my own articles and videos. Website: https://www.peterjoosten.org

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