HXD | Human by Design

Play Sizzle Reel Video about Human by Design PLAY MOVIE
Replay Sizzle Reel Video about Human by Design REPLAY
Play Sizzle Reel Video about Human by Design PLAY MOVIE

The Conference

Human by Design is a one-day conference that explores the world of human augmentation with two goals: First, to bring together the top minds to debate, question, and challenge what it means to be human; and second, to create an Ethical Framework that can serve as a way forward for augmentation guidelines.

About The Game

In 2029, mechanically augmented humans have been deemed outcasts and segregated from the rest of society. Adam Jensen, an elite covert agent armed with state-of-the-art weapons and augmentations, must choose the right approach, along with who to trust, in order to unravel a vast worldwide conspiracy.

  • Panel 1 1


    Should augmentation be accessible to
    everyone on the planet? YES


    E. Christian Brugger is the Cardinal Stafford Professor of Christian Ethics at John Vianney Major Seminary in Denver, Colorado. He has a Ph.D in moral philosophy from Oxford and master’s degrees in philosophical and theological ethics from Seton Hall, Harvard, and Oxford Universities. Brugger has published over 200 articles in scholarly and popular periodicals and appeared on PBS covering numerous topics in ethics.


    Dr. Natasha Vita-More, is a designer, researcher, and scientist who explores the intervention of biological limited lifespans, selective enhancement, and related socio-political issues. She prototyped the Whole Body Prosthetic, which includes omni-directional existence of the Substrate Diverse Person. She has been featured in more than 24 televised documentaries. She introduced the idea of a “Super Olympics” at the SportAccord Convention for Olympic and non-Olympic sports in St. Petersburg, Russia.


    Adam Arabian, Ph.D PE is a technical director of multiple nonprofits and a professor of engineering at Seattle Pacific University, focusing on supporting refugee and underserved communities globally. He performed cutting-edge research and development for commercial prosthetic devices, was lead engineer on the early development of the DARPA RP2009 prosthetic arm, and was director of R&D for Orthocare Innovations.


    Steve Mann, chief scientist at California-based startup Metavision, is widely regarded as "The Father of Wearable Computing.” His work as an artist, scientist, designer, and inventor made Toronto the epicenter of wearable technology in the 1980s. In 1992 Mann founded the MIT Media Lab's Wearable Computing project. Mann also invented the smartwatch videophone in 1998 as well as HDR (High Dynamic Range) imaging.

  • Moderator

    Arthur Caplan

    Arthur Caplan, Ph.D. is the founding head of the Division of Bioethics at New York University Langone Medical Center and currently serves as the ethics advisor to Department of Defense/DARPA on synthetic biology. Caplan has authored and edited 32 books and over 600 papers in peer-reviewed journals. His most recent book is Replacement Parts: The Ethics of Procuring and Replacing Organs in Humans (Georgetown University Press, 2015). Caplan has received numerous awards for his work in healthcare, biotechnology, ethics and science.


In the shadow of some recent high-profile medical cases being battled in U.S. courts comes the increasingly relevant question: Do we own our bodies? If the answer is yes, then is that right of ownership inalienable to the point that we can augment it without limits? These core questions will be debated in a panel discussion featuring the top thinkers on both sides of the issue. Transhumanist philosopher Dr. Natasha Vita-More and augmentation pioneer and former U.S. Navy engineer Adam Arabian, along with Christian ethicist and moral philosopher E. Christian Brugger and Dr. Steve Mann, victim of the first cyborg hate crime, will delve into the morality and ethics of human augmentation. Their discussion will be a launchpad for the day’s conversations and the larger issues surrounding human rights and augmentation.

Meet Asem Hasna

Play Movie about Asem Hasna PLAY MOVIE
Replay Movie about Asem Hasna REPLAY
Play Movie about Asem Hasna PLAY MOVIE
  • Panel 2 2


    How far is too far?
    Where do we draw the line?

    Neil Harbisson is a British-born contemporary artist and cyborg activist best known for having an antenna implanted in his skull to detect infrared and ultraviolet colors via sound waves. He is the first human to be officially recognized as a cyborg by a government body. His art investigates the relationship between color and sound, as well as the use of artistic expression via sensory extensions. In 2010 he co­-founded the Cyborg Foundation with Moon Ribas.


    Dr. Chorost is the author of the groundbreaking “cyborg memoir,” Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human about getting a cochlear implant. It won the PEN/USA Award for Creative Nonfiction. His second book, World Wide Mind, is about the science of enabling direct communication from one brain to another. He also writes for Wired, New Scientist, and Slate, among others.


    Samantha Payne is a freelance journalist and the co-founder of Open Bionics, an award-winning startup developing low-cost bionic hands for amputees or those born without a hand. She was recently named one of the top 25 women in robotics by Robohub and Marie Claire's “Top Women In Tech.” She has been a guest speaker and panelist at the UKTI Brazil Wearables Conference, Geek Picnic Technology Conference Russia, and 3D Print Show's Medical Conference Berlin.


    Dr. Kazerooni is a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also serves as the director of the Berkeley Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory. He earned a doctorate degree from MIT and is a leading expert in robotics, control sciences, exoskeletons, and human-machine systems. Dr. Kazerooni is also the founder and CEO of SuitX, a company that provides accessible, affordable exoskeletons for the industrial, medical, and military markets.

  • Moderator

    Anna Wexler

    Anna Wexler is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society at MIT, and a visiting scholar at the Center for Neuroscience and Society at the University of Pennsylvania. She studies the ethical, legal and social implications of emerging neurotechnologies, with a particular focus on the use of do-it-yourself brain stimulation for cognitive enhancement. She is a former science writer and documentary filmmaker who co-directed and co-produced the feature documentary film Unorthodox (2013).


Though permanent body augmentation is often thought of only in the context of corrective prosthetics, this is also the age of the voluntary cyborg. For thousands of years humans have sought to permanently modify their bodies with tattoos, piercings, and implants—pushing the boundaries of the human body. But now technologists seek to enhance the capability of human anatomy without a preexisting condition. On this panel, well-known contemporary artist and cyborg activist Neil Harbisson will join author and “cyborg memoirist” Michael Chorost, 3D-printed prosthetic CEO Samantha Payne, and roboticist and UC–Berkeley professor Dr. Homayoon Kazerooni. They will discuss and debate the issue of medical vs. non-medical augmentation as well as the onset of cyborg culture.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Play Movie about Deus Ex: Mankind Divided PLAY MOVIE
Replay Movie about Deus Ex: Mankind Divided REPLAY
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided PLAY MOVIE
  • Panel 3 3


    Where is the future of
    human augmentation heading,
    and how will we get there?

    Will Rosellini is an IP expert, serial entrepreneur, and former minor league baseball player. He has three companies in progress, all of which focus on repairing the nervous system using active electrical devices that will ultimately hook directly into the virtual world to increase health, happiness, and wealth.


    Lucy McRae is a science-fiction artist, director, body architect, and TED Fellow probing the frontiers of the body, health, and human adaptability. Trained in classical ballet, McRae’s artistic study of technology began during her years at Philips Design, where she led the technology company’s research lab. She has developed stretchable electronics, an electronic tattoo, and a range of emotion-sensing dresses.


    Zoltan Istvan is a futurist and author of the bestselling philosophical novel, The Transhumanist Wager. He is also the 2016 U.S. presidential candidate of the Transhumanist Party. He's a former journalist with the National Geographic Channel and now writes for Motherboard, TechCrunch, Gizmodo, and The Huffington Post. He appears frequently on TV and radio as one of America’s leading transhumanists.

  • TAN LE

    Tan Le is the founder and CEO of Emotiv, a bioinformatics company advancing the understanding of the human brain through electroencephalography (EEG). She is a technology innovator, entrepreneur, business executive, and speaker. Her company has won a number of design awards, and Tan herself was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer as well as Fast Company's Most Influential Women in Technology and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

  • Moderator

    Erica Orange

    Erica Orange is the executive vice president and COO of The Future Hunters, one of the world’s leading futurist consulting firms. She evaluates emerging cultural, technological, economic, political, demographic and environmental trends for Fortune 500 companies, trade associations and public-sector clients. Orange is a frequent speaker on a wide range of global trends and has authored numerous white papers. She also tracks major disruptive technologies and advancements in science to understand how both are shifting our current understanding of our own biology.


Today’s cutting-edge prosthetics and augmentation technology allows human bodies to run faster, jump higher, record interactions, and see colors previously unseen. But what’s next? What is the vision for human augmentation in the future and how far are we from that reality? In this exciting look forward, medical technology entrepreneur Will Rosellini, science-fiction artist and TED Fellow Lucy McRae, writer and presidential candidate for the U.S. Transhuman Party Zoltan Istvan, and bioinformatics entrepreneur Tan Le will offer a glimpse of the road ahead. Their insights will show the deeper implication not only for developers and makers, but also for doctors, lawmakers, and society at large.

Meet Steve Sanchez

Play Movie about Steve Sanchez PLAY MOVIE
Replay Movie about Steve Sanchez REPLAY
Play Movie about Steve Sanchez PLAY MOVIE

Human by Design
An Ethical Framework for Human Augmentation

The diverse board of experts was carefully selected by conference organizers following an international search for leading thinkers in the fields of Human Augmentation, Bioethics, and Technology. The authors have collaborated to create the framework, unaffiliated with the conference organizers and sponsors, both of whom had no input into the final document.

Nadja Oertelt

Moderator and author

Nadja Oertelt is a documentary filmmaker and science media producer with a background in neuroscience. She creates media at the intersection of culture, technology and science as a way to engender scientific agency and scientific literacy. Nadja most recently comes from Mashable where she worked as a Senior Editorial Producer creating science series and documentaries. She worked for over three years at Harvard creating an interactive, multimedia, episodic, open neuroscience course for hundreds of thousands of learners around the world. She received her BS in Neuroscience at MIT, and worked for many years in visual neuroscience labs at Cambridge University, MIT and Harvard. She did graduate work in paleoanthropology and paleoarchaeology at UCL in London. Nadja has worked as both a scientist and filmmaker for over ten years.


Adam Arabian

Nita Farahany

Will Rosellini

Samantha Payne

Michael Chorost

Christian Brugger

Adam Arabian

Nita Farahany

Will Rosellini

Samantha Payne

Michael Chorost

Christian Brugger