New technologies could both help and hinder the workplace, experts claim

Performance enhancing technology could have both a positive and negative impact on the way people do their jobs in the years to come, a new report claims.

Steps forward in science aimed at boosting people's abilities could see major changes in employment by 2022, according to researchers from four major institutions.

The report says technology ranging from bionic limbs to implants to improve sight could improve the career chances for those with disabilities.

And it may also make it easier for older people or those affected by poor health or injury to continue in their jobs for longer than initially planned.

But researchers warned that it could also lead to staff feeling they have to take steps to improve their performance or risk being overtaken by their colleagues.

And as the wealthy will be in a better position to afford the technology, it could increase inequality in the workplace, it is feared.

Professor Genevra Richardson, from King's College London, said technology of this kind could make workers better at learning and doing their job.

It could also make staff more motivated and better able to work after suffering ill health, becoming disabled or reaching the retirement age.

Prof Richardson led a workshop on the subject, hosted by the Academy of Medical Sciences, the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society.

But she warned that thought needs to be given to the potential negative consequences of using measures to enhance human performance as well as the possible benefits.

The report said many students and people in stressful careers already commonly take drugs intended to keep them mentally alert or to help them to remember important things.

Other advances in technology which could be incorporated into the workplace include high tech hearing aids, equipment to improve vision and mechanical limbs.

One example given in the report was sight enhancing implants or goggles which give the user improved night vision or allow them to see ultraviolet light.

Copyright Press Association 2012