Imagine this: a social media company produces a cut-price bionic eye, offering sight to those who would have otherwise struggled to afford it.
But there is a catch - the company gets to see what eye recipients see and can play advertisements directly into their vision.
It is this type of scenario that will be discussed when The Rise of Cyborgs and Post Human Beings, an official National Science Week event, brings together some of Australia's top researchers to consider the very future of human kind.
The brainchild of science broadcaster and long-time Canberra Times "Ask Fuzzy" science columnist Rod Taylor, the event will be held at the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University on 18 August.
ANU academic Bob Williamson is a group leader in machine learning at National ICT Australia and part of a collaborative project looking at new technologies and their impact on Australia's future, which is sponsored through the office of Australia's chief scientist.
He said the uptake of technology would depend not just on its availability, but also people's willingness to use it.
For example, the video telephone was invented in the 1960s, he said, but it soon became clear many people did not want to see the person on the other end of the line.
But Professor Williamson was sure information and communication technologies would continue to progress, with a closer integration with biology.
“You can imagine all manner of things that you can implant into a human body that are empowered by being able to have clever computers in them, a modern heart pace maker for example has a computer chip in it, the original ones did not, they could become increasingly sophisticated,” he said.
Mr Taylor said the idea of a social media company marketing a bionic eye that screens advertisements was still a very remote possibility, but it fit a pattern they commonly used of offering a seemingly free service, with a hidden cost.
"The motivation is clearly there for social media companies to do these types of things," he said.
Mr Taylor said that while he did not make a judgment about whether the scenario was good or bad, he was concerned about a great concentration of power vested in a small number of companies.