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About the Lab

The Augmentation Lab is a Harvard student-led lab exploring & engineering the human condition.

Vision

Technology is about humans. From fire and stone tools to the modern day internet, new technologies and inventions have always augmented the human experience. Yet the development of technology has often been disconnected from its human impact, resulting in both ethical dilemmas and technical challenges at the human-technology interface. Our modern era is marked by both great technological advancement and deep social-cultural-spiritual dissatisfaction. 

As human engineering algorithms get increasingly sophisticated, we must align technological development with human interests. 

If applied thoughtfully, we have seen technology be magical. Therefore, at the Augmentation Lab we want to focus on bringing out magical technology, counteracting systems that addict, subjugate, and exploit, with systems that protect, empower, and enhance the innate magic of being human.

 

We believe that the thoughtful design of augmentation systems can reveal, enhance, and transform the latent magic within and between us. We research, develop, and facilitate discourse around systems that augment our sense of purpose, interpersonal connection, embodiment, learning, creativity, communication, and actualization

Areas of Focus

Our work tends to cluster around five major themes:

  • Artificial & Cyborg Minds explores cognitive augmentation and the complex communication, collaboration, and convergence dynamics of human-computer systems in the age of increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligences. 

  • Transhuman Forms explores physical augmentation and the mechanisms of extending, enhancing, or otherwise altering physical properties of the human experience, through bionics, wearable technologies, and other body-machine interfaces.

  • Worlds of Imagination explores environmental augmentation and human experience of the spectrum between reality and unreality in the era of immersive virtual, augmented, and mixed worlds.

  • Wearable Devices to develop everyday interfaces for enhancing sensory experiences, more meaningful interactions, and more.

  • Affective Augmentation deals with our interpersonal relationships and emotions of the human. This is mostly related to the area of living with technology and how technology can assist us in living a more profound and meaningful life.

STGs (Sustainable Technology Goals)

We are currently developing a framework for sustainable technology development. If you are interested in joining the working group, email us or write in the discord.

Forms & Methodologies

Our work consists of research, engineering, and creative projects. Project lifecycles generally resemble the following:

  1. Project idea and team are formed.

  2. Relevant literature review is conducted.

  3. Project end goals (e.g. publication) & roadmap are established.

  4. Project is proposed at a lab-wide meeting and undergoes cross-examination. If other lab members approve the project, the project becomes official.

  5. Faculty mentors are onboarded.

  6. Funding applications and (if applicable) necessary approval processes (e.g. IRB) are submitted.

  7. Prototyping leads to development of a proof-of-concept (PoC).

  8. Evaluation (e.g. at lab-wide meeting, through pilot testing, etc.) leads to iteration in prototyping for a minimum-viable-product (MVP) and (if applicable) experimental design begins.

  9. User testing is conducted (varies in formality depending on end goal).

  10. Final output is created (paper, open-sourced SDK, open-sourced guide, etc.)

History

The Augmentation Lab started as a group of friends who enjoyed building projects together. We started off tinkering with small, hacky projects — punch-activated flamethrowers, hand-controlled skateboards — and then started pursuing more ambitious projects focused on making fundamental innovations. To support these ambitious projects, we started finding faculty mentors, expanding our teams, and building rigorous practices and infrastructure for our work. From here, the Augmentation Lab was born as the common vision and infrastructure for the work our teams do.

Join us

If any of the above resonates with you, we would love to meet you. Join our Discord community and email us at contact@augmentationlab.org.

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