What we learned at Kaspersky NEXT 2021

As technology moves forward, questions are being raised about augmentation, privacy and security.

At the recent Kaspersky NEXT 2021 debate, talk focused around the imminent augmentation issues, particularly around privacy, security, regulation and changing attitudes to bionics.

Held online, the debate was hosted by technology journalist and presenter, Kate Russell, and featured a range of experts, including:

  • Tilly Lockey – bionic model, presenter, speaker and all-round disruptor
  • Bertolt Meyer – professor of Work and Economic Psychology at Chemnitz University of Technology in Germany
  • Viktoria Modesta – bionic pop artist, creative director and futurist
  • Hannes Sjöblad – managing director and Co-founder of DSruptive Subdermals
  • David Jacoby – deputy head of Global Research and Analysis, Europe at Kaspersky
  • Marco Preuss – director of Global Research and Analysis, Europe at Kaspersky

Kicking off the discussion, the panel spoke about everyday life for augmented people and how values and opinions have changed around the topic over the years – what was once seen as odd is now accepted by the vast majority of people.  Tilly and Bertolt went on to discuss the value that their arms have given them, along with how their confidence and mental well-being has been positively impacted by having prosthesis.

“It’s the little things, they’re what make the difference in everyday life, [Augmentation] changes how people feel about you and also how you feel about yourself. People treat you differently, people say, ‘oh wow, that’s cool, can you show me how that works?'” Dr. Bertolt Meyer

Indeed, a new report from Kaspersky shows that attitudes have changed drastically over the years, with more than a third (35%) of Europeans saying they have “always been accepting” of augmented people and 17% which say they are more accepting now than they were ten years ago.

Connectivity and security in human augmentation

Moving from how things are today to how things could change in the future, the panel looked at how devices are currently connected to the internet and how things might change in the future.  Marco Preuss also warns that ‘augmentation isn’t just a security issue, it’s about human rights and privacy too.’

To regulate or not regulate…

The next part of the discussion moved quickly onto regulation: where security and privacy spring up, regulation usually follows – but whose job will it be to regulate smart prosthesis?  The government or industry?  All sides had a take on this, with some, such as David Jacoby saying that by working together, the development process would become that much easier. “The community must tell vendors ‘this is what we want, this is how we’ll use it,’ and we need to build security [into] that.”

Wrapping up

Wrapping up, the panellists discussed how the future may look, with augmentation technology becoming ever more advanced as technology continues its never-ending march forward.  Will people become tempted to remove healthy limbs or organs, in order to upgrade to a “superior bionic limb/ organ?”  Current legislation doesn’t allow this, but things could very well change as time goes on.

To learn more about what was discussed, you can check out the report here.