Square Enix and CNN to Produce Conference on Human Augmentation


The the upcoming release of Square Enix’s Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the publisher is teaming up with CNN’s brand studio Courageous to produce the first ever conference on human augmentation called Human by Design, which will be held at the Paley Center for Media in New York City on August 3, 2016, and “explore the intersection of technology and humanity with the objective of bringing together top minds to debate, question, and challenge what it means to be human.”

While the conference will be promoting the latest Deus Ex sequel (out on August 23, 2016), which the game focuses on the a story where the world that has become so divided by hatred, prejudice, and fear that many countries are enacting harsh laws aimed at segregating mechanically augmented humans and “Naturals” from each other. Much of the conference will focus on the similarities of the game’s universe and the similarities it has with ours, particularly around how technology is rapidly shaping the human condition and the ethics of self-regulation.

“Since the launch of Courageous, we have been committed to pioneering the evolution of branded content to help brands tell more powerful stories,” said Otto Bell, vice president and group creative director of Courageous. “Human by Design greatly embodies this approach, as we’ve assembled a group of thought-leaders across the fields of science, technology, ethics, and cyborg activism who, for the first time, will come together to discuss the cutting-edge technologies and innovations that are shaping human augmentation.”

“Human by Design goes beyond bringing to life the key themes of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. This conference is a special opportunity for a video game to take pause from the limitless world we play in, and to drive the conversation around what is really happening in the space of human augmentation,” said Jon Grant, senior product marketing manager at Square Enix. “Our hope is that the gaming world tunes into the conference and is inspired to get involved as well.”

Square Enix announced the following panels to be featured at Human by Design:

Is Augmentation a Human Right?: How can augmentation be accessible to everyone on the planet?

  • E. Christian Brugger, Cardinal Stafford Professor of Christian Ethics at John Vianney Major Seminary in Colorado and author of hundreds of articles on topics in bioethics, natural law theory and the interdisciplinary field of psychology and Christian anthropology.
  • Dr. Natasha Vita-More, Designer, researcher, and scientist who explores the intervention of biological limited lifespans, selective enhancement, and related socio-political issues.
  • Adam Arabian, Ph.D PE, Technical Director of multiple nonprofits and Professor of Engineering at Seattle Pacific University, focused on supporting refugees and underserved communities globally.
  • Dr. Steve Mann, Chief Scientist at California-based Metavision, Inventor of HDR (High Dynamic Range) imaging, Founder of MIT Media Lab Wearable Computing project and widely regarded as “The Father of Wearable Computing.”

Selective vs. Therapeutic Augmentation: Who should have the final say on augmentation procedures — doctors or individuals?

  • Neil Harbisson, British-born cyborg artist and activist best known for having an antenna implanted in his skull to perceive visible and invisible colors such as infrareds and ultraviolets via sound waves.
  • Dr. Michael Chorost, Author of Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human, the groundbreaking “cyborg memoir” about getting a cochlear implant.
  • Samantha Payne, Co-Founder of Open Bionics, an award-winning startup developing low-cost bionic hands for amputees or those born without a hand.
  • Dr. Homayoon Kazerooni, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also serves as Director of the Berkeley Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory.

The Future of the Far Far Next: What will medical advances enable 10 years from now?

  • Will Rosellini, IP Expert and serial entrepreneur with three companies in progress that focus on repairing the nervous system using active electrical devices.
  • Lucy McRae, Science-Fiction Artist, Director, Body Architect, and TED Fellow probing the frontiers of the body, health and human adaptability.
  • Zoltan Istvan, Futurist, Author of best-selling philosophical novelThe Transhumanist Wager, and 2016 U.S. presidential candidate of the Transhumanist Party.
  • Tan Le, Founder and CEO of EMOTIV, a bioinformatics company advancing the understanding of the human brain through electroencephalography (EEG).


The conference will end with the presentation of The Code of Ethics on Human Augmentation, which will be drafted by the Human by Design Board, which is comprised of conference speakers. The Code is meant to engage a deeper conversation around the issues of human augmentation, while reflecting the specific views of the authors, in an effort to help shape the future of the industry.

Luckily, Courageous will broadcast the conference which will be distributed in across CNN’s digital and social channels, including CNN’s Snapchat Discover channel and Turner’s social distribution platform, Launchpad. The conference will also be streamed live on Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/deusex for anyone interesting in learning the future of Human Augmentation.