Superhuman qualities are qualities that exceed those found in humans. Superhuman abilities are found in a few fictional characters, especially as superheroes in American comic books. Fictional characters have been portrayed as having psychic abilities, flying abilities, impossible strength, or exceptional proficiency beyond human capability. Superhuman can additionally mean something that isn't human, but considered to be "superior" to humans in a few way, e.g. a tiger might be described as having "superhuman strength".

Superhuman abilities might result from human enhancement by genetic modification, cybernetic implants, nanotechnology, radiation or from human evolution in the distant future.

Human enhancement and advancement

Human enhancement is any attempt to temporarily or permanently overcome the current limitations of the human body through natural or artificial means. Human enhancement might be through the use of technological means to select or alter human characteristics and capacities, whether or not the alteration results in characteristics and capacities that lie beyond the existing human range.

Some bioethicists restrict the term to the non-therapeutic application of specific technologiesneuro-, cyber-, gene-, and nano-technologies — to human biology.

According to transhumanist thinkers, a posthuman is a hypothetical future being "whose basic capacities so radically exceed those of present humans as to be no longer unambiguously human by our current standards."

Artificial Beings

Super-human is one of the stages in classification of progress in artificial intelligence where an entity of artificial intelligence performs better than most humans do in a specific task. Examples of where computers have achieved super-human performance include backgammon, bridge, chess, reversi, scrabble, Go and even Jeopardy!.

In fiction

Speculation about human nature and the possibilities of both human enhancement and future human evolution have made superhumans a popular subject of science fiction.

Beings with supernatural abilities are additionally common in fantasy fiction, but are quite rarely referred to as superhumans in that genre.

Science fiction

The concept of the superhuman is quite popular in science fiction, where superhumans are often cyborgs, mutants, aliens, telepaths, the product of ongoing human evolution or genetically engineered. The greatest publicity for the concept are comic book superheroes, such as Superman (an alien). The term is often used in discussions of comic book characters because of the considerable overlap between superheroes and superhumans is such that the archetypical comic book revolves around superhuman characters who become super heroes or super villains. Notwithstanding a large number of comic books outside of DC and Marvel rely on alternative terminology for both because the terms Superman and "Super Hero" (not the generic "superhero") are registered as trademarks. Superhuman characters in various comics, role-playing games and additional entertainment media have additionally been referred to as a metahuman, mutant, evolved human or superhuman, or posthuman.

One type of superhuman described in science fiction stories, particularly throughout the Atomic Age, derives from the concept of mutation or further human evolution. In such tales, a human would evolve into or give birth to a being that either has powers not yet exhibited by 'baseline' humans, or else motivations entirely different from those humans, or both. In a few stories, these humans are either unable to get along with "normal" humanity, or will ultimately supersede them entirely, causing the eventual extinction of the descendants of contemporary baseline humanity.

These metahumans are designated as a "new species" (or "successor species") of humanity. In a few fictional franchises, such as those of The Tomorrow People, Babylon 5 or the X-Men, they refer to themselves through use of the binomial nomenclature Homo superior, to distinguish them from Homo sapiens. Progress is inherently built into this science fiction subgenre, as it is assumed that they're the natural product of ongoing evolutionary adaptation to a new environment.

However, additional storeys turn this notion on its head, showing the disadvantages of a supposedly superior ability or quality; for example, the mutants of the X-Men are depicted as being unable to control their own powers, resulting in significant damage and catastrophe when their powers first activate. They must undergo rigorous training to make practical use of their powers and to coexist among others. In Briar Patch by Dean Ing, a group of ancient hominids were portrayed as a largely pacifistic, telepathic and highly empathic species who couldn't stand to inflict pain, even while hunting; they were eventually overwhelmed and exterminated by the less sensitive but more ruthless Homo sapiens.

Indeed, fear, persecution and interspecies 'racism' from non-metahuman humanity is a problem in the fictional universes of The Tomorrow People, X-Men and Babylon 5 alike. Military exploitation and abuse of telepaths, anti-mutant Sentinel technology and the repressive tolerance of Psi Corps in the latter universe parallels real-world versions of prejudice and discrimination.

Many additional types of superhumans are additionally portrayed in science fiction. For example, the Dune series contains several varieties of superhumans, ranging from those produced by selective breeding to chemical enhancement or lifelong training in as yet uninvented mental and physical disciplines, a nearly-immortal human-sandworm hybrid, and artificial lifeforms such as the Face Dancers. The Dune prequels additionally describe nearly-immortal brain-in-a-jar cyborgs called Cymeks and advanced artificial intelligence.

The CoDominium universe has superhumans produced by artificial and natural selection and by genetic engineering; for example, the alien Moties have been bred for thousands of generations to be far better than humans at their caste's specific job, such as Engineer or Mediator. Many additional fictional aliens, such as Vulcans, Kzinti and Mork from Ork have greater than human abilities or powers, at times simply for the purpose of making them seem more advanced or more "alien", additional times simply for dramatic reasons (particularly if they're the antagonists of the story).

Classification in fiction

In Marvel Comics the term superhuman is part of a "power classification system" and applies to aptitude (usually physical) far beyond the range attainable by normal humans. An athlete is a normal human in extraordinary physical condition, such as a weight lifter or boxer. Peak human is applied to physical abilities that are nearly, but not quite, beyond the limits of the best of humans, such as an olympic-grade athlete. Enhanced human refers to superhuman abilities a few distance beyond the limits of humans, such as being able to lift a small car but not a tank, and is a term for "light" superhuman abilities. Then comes the level of the "superhuman." Characters with a superhuman attribute are far beyond normal human abilities. Next would be godlike abilities.