Part Two: The Bionic Brain at Work

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STEM school children building a robot

You can find part one, “Bionics Illuminating Workers,” here.

Soon, bionics will enable humans to achieve more not only physically, but also intellectually.

In New Equipment Digest, Robert Bates of Wipro notes that, if you include mobile devices, bionics is already ubiquitous in the workplace. We now carry the equivalent of a 1990s super computer in our pockets, using it to communicate and store important data. This so-called “Google effect” will only grow; in the near future, we will utilize more powerful computing systems to aid our work, perhaps without even having to handle a physical device.

Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, continues to push innovation in the bionic realm, particularly with brain bionics. He plans to create high-bandwidth interfaces between computers and human brains, allowing humans to upgrade their thought processes to artificial intelligence levels, Seeker reports.

While this example is decades away, CNN says that experimental versions of brain-computer interfaces, or BCIs, already let people control computer cursors via brainwaves.

As an editorial in The Guardian pointed out, bionics could produce a select class of “superbeings” who are stronger, faster and smarter than un-augmented humans. While this means enhanced production in, and potentially out of, the workplace, it is difficult to make precise predictions.

Preparing for the bionic brain

What is not difficult to do is embrace technology and prepare, at least to a certain extent. As brain bionics progress, it will open practical and legal questions for employers and employees. Here are some questions we anticipate:

  • At what cost will brain bionics come?
  • Could employers require that employees make use of bionics on the job?
  • Could bionic employees be pushed beyond normal human limits?
  • How will brain bionics affect un-augmented workers?
  • If two job applicants have equal resumes, but one can afford a bionics device, is it fair for that applicant to get the job?
  • Should employers support worker-supplied bionics similar to how they support personal mobile devices in the workplace?

Companies should not be blindsided by innovations in brain bionics, or bionics in general. I feel it is my responsibility, our responsibility at Adecco, to study the implications of bionics for employers and employees to help our clients prepare and eventually make the best of these innovations. Although this space will continue to advance, here are are our current recommendations:

  • Identify one or two areas within your business where bionics could imminently play a role. Look at both physical enhancements and data-supported decision-making. While true brain-computer interfaces are far in the future, other related technologies are already here.
  • Make dates with vendors. Startups are eager for beta testers and proofs-of-concept. Even if you are not ready, they can bring you up to speed on the latest technology and help put you in a positive, ready position.

I am personally excited about the impact bionics will have on businesses and their workforces. I know my fellow leaders share that sentiment. We look forward to providing strategic advice to our clients about bionics in their workforces today and tomorrow.


Federico is the CEO of Adecco General Staffing and Pontoon, North America, UK & Ireland.

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