(A scene from Black Mirror - The Entire History of You, where every wealthy individual owns a device that lets them relive their memories from any time, any where).
Intelligence is a gift - available to every wealthy person to purchase and flaunt.
Imagine a future where we didn't interact with our technology, but merely interfaced with it, as it became an inherent part of our mental and social processes. We already live in a world where the vaguely wealthy own devices allowing them to be constantly connected to their information streams and social networks.
People walk around typing on their phones, befriending new people is done via a network, where: "Hey, I saw you at John's party last night!" is a reason to know someone, rather than a meaningful conversation or shared interest.
Now, this isn't augmented intelligence, but it is a good example of what I'm trying to explain.
Not sure why you're here? Check out my last post on The Singularity (machine intelligence, self improvement and self-awareness) to see why I'm looking into giving humanity the edge.
I need to upgrade my brain
Augmented intelligence (or Intelligence Amplification), is the futurist school of using technology to augment (or amplify) our natural intelligence, so that we can 'raise the bar' on our own potential.
This could take many forms, from having a built in web browser in our brains (creepy) or merely purchasing the ability to possess total recall.
The latter is how 'The Entire History of You', an episode of Black Mirror, demonstrates the principle. Every yuppie owns a device known as a 'Grain', which is embedded in their skull, behind the ear. It records what they see and hear, taste and touch, and allows them to peruse their experiences at will.
Much as those with eidetic (also known as photographic) memory are idolised and considered blessed for their ability to remember things clearly, you'd think that the episode would portray the young adults as thriving and succeeding, constantly learning new things, yet this is not so.
They use this perfect recall to relive sexual misadventures and feed their own jealous paranoia, the lead protagonist re-watches a scene where his girlfriend laughs at her ex-boyfriend's joke repeatedly, reading more and more into it. The ramifications of this ability on mental health is a theme covered by the episode, and I can recommend you check out 'Black Mirror' if you have a chance (and especially if you find social media interesting, as every episode has some focus on technology and social interaction)!
Back to the real stuff: if we were able to purchase mental capacity and intelligence, then would everyone be uplifted, or would it be like the Universities of old, where the elites get an education that permits them to continue to be elite, and the poor prop them up in their success? The educated and wealthy becoming more educated, and as a result, more wealthy?
This intelligence amplification should not be confused with artificial intelligence (the creation of self-sufficient technological devices that we can use to provide us with better information and services), as it it is wholly concerned with improving our own 'innate' ability, giving us tools to better employ our abilities and learn more.
Identify weakness - correct it
It could be argued that every major technological breakthrough is an example of intelligence amplification, from the abacus to the book, to the smart-phone (the personal computer probably being the most important developing tech in our lives thus far).
Imagine having a little module installed in your skull, that connects with your brain and allows you to think faster, remember better, increasing your short term memory to last over days, rather than seconds and minutes (you'd never lose your car keys, at least).
(Imagine your eye being a camera, allowing you to film and capture moments for future perusal.)
Technological is becoming more amazingly complex, and our understanding of our own bodies and minds has never been clearer, it's more likely that these two fields will combine than we will create a self-aware AI entity.
A paper published in 1960 by J.C.R. Licklider (a psychologist and computer scientist) hypothesised that AI was going to become irrelevant because of "Man-computer symbiosis". Was he right, has his prediction already come true?
What do you think? Robot overlords, or cyborg populations?