A human hand augmented with a range of different technologies (antenna, wires, cogs, needles, etc), alongside the words "THE HUMAN MACHINE"

Everyone in the world is dependent on technology. From hearing aids to spectacles, drugs to prosthetics, smartphones to contraceptives–human existence is a cycle of inventing things to shape life, and, in turn, be shaped. There is no “natural” state for humans, not since we mastered fire.

Humans and machines are not actually opposites of each other; the binary of “natural” and “unnatural” is a construct that can mask what’s really happening. Our technology is really an extension of our humanity, and we are all human machines of some kind. This series explores what that means in the near future.

Note: This series ran between August and November 2017, with new episodes published every two weeks. There was also a newsletter book club that ran alongside the series–its archive is available here here.

1 - an augmented human hand

Episode 1: Introduction

Welcome to the Human Machine

2 - a human eye augmented with additional camera technology

Episode 2: Sense Hacking

Jane Hu meets real-life cyborgs who want to change how they experience the world

3 - a pile of tablets and smartphones

Episode 3: Connected Brains

Kieran Yates on smartphones as a kind of brain augmentation, and moral panics about them “rewiring our brains”

4 - stylized illustrations of IUDs

Episode 4: Birth Control

Hannah Harris Green on the consequences of the first contraceptive pill–and what to expect from the version for men

5 - a helix of DNA being altered by a small clamp, which is moving standes around.

Episode 5: Gene Editing

Corin Faife looks into the excitement around CRISPR gene editing, and why the people who need its potential most will likely be the last to receive it

6 - a series of images of different machines and prosthetics that recreate human bodies and motion.

Episode 6: Prosthetics & Exoskeletons

Jane Hu looks at the economic and social issues around the next generation of prosthetics–including body augmentation and powered exoskeletons

7 - a person walking along, wearing a number of augmented technologies over their body.

Episode 7: The Future Human Machine

A look at some of the more underrated innovations coming over the next decades that will alter the relationship between humans and technology

A grid of the other illustrations on this page.

Episode 8: The Human Machine Reading List

What comes next


How We Get To Next was a magazine that explored the future of science, technology, and culture from 2014 to 2019.