The video game “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” features Adam Jensen, a cop who was forced to undergo electronic augmentations after he was injured. Some of his augmentations allow him to do things like see through walls or fall unhurt from great heights, things that normal people can’t do – yet.
That’s where Will Rosellini, CEO of a medical device research company called MicroTransponder, comes in. He was a fan of the first “Deus Ex” game and wanted to help make the game believable. His company works on developing electrical implants to control nerve impulses in the human body.
Rosellini’s insights into human augmentation and his predictions for the future of prosthesis ended up lending credibility and authenticity to ‘Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s’ world said Mona Hamilton, vice president of marketing for Square Enix Inc. Eidos Montreal and Square Enix are the companies who create "Deus Ex" and they enjoy a fruitful, ongoing relationship with Micro Transponder.
Rosellini and Eidos Montreal specifically wanted to predict what neurotechnology would be like in the year 2027, the setting for “Deus Ex: Human Revolution.” Designers presented him with about 25 player abilities they wanted to use and he extrapolated out current day technology to make the skills believable.
For example, with his new augmented arms, Jensen can punch through walls. Rosellini said there is a $100 million program with the U.S. Department of Defense producing prosthetic limbs, which can withstand that kind of force when development is projected into the future.
“If the military decided that it was important for soldiers to have that kind of strength, it’s not too far to imagine they could enhance the energy requirements in that arm and you could easily punch through a wall,” Rosellini explained.
Rosellini admitted there are some augmentation abilities, like invisibility or floating to the ground using an energy buffer, that may be possible 20 years down the road, but don’t have any current basis.
“Social enhancers, where you can manipulate the brain to be better socially, is pretty far away. A lot of the cognitive enhancements in the game are pretty far away.”
“Deus Ex: Human Revolution” also explores the schism between people who embrace augmentations as the future of humanity versus those who believe electronic implants are an abomination – the haves and the have-nots.
Rosellini said this is also based in current times.
“That is the biggest debate in our country today, which is how is healthcare delivered?,” he said. “Companies like us have shown that (neurotechnology) therapy works in the clinic, but unfortunately, Medicare has said we’re not going to pay for that technology.”
“This is an argument that is going to be happening over the next 20 years for sure.”
Could people begin to seek electronic augmentation to enhance their abilities rather than just treat an illness? Rosellini said the increased use of steroids and the demand for Viagra are just the tip of the iceberg.
“The appetite for self-improvement is there. We want to be prettier, faster, stronger, bigger, younger,” he said. “Can a medical device deliver that? Today, not really.”
But in the year 2037? The world will be a much different place.