Robotic Augmentation may affect Human Brain


Human sensory experience, physicality, and cognition will be extended to unprecedented levels thanks to fundamental developments in robotics. The future human will be stronger, faster, less prone to injury, and more productive thanks to augmentation technology.

Future technology will not only compensate for human impairment, but will also push human capabilities beyond physiological limits, allowing humans to undertake a wide range of tasks using both anthropomorphic and non-anthropomorphic expanded bodies.

Augmentation technology has sparked a lot of curiosity in recent years. But, as Paulina Keiliba, the study’s first author and a fellow researcher, points out, “we still don’t have answers to some really basic concerns, such as: Can the human brain handle an extra body part?”

Robotic augmentation can influence human minds, according to new research from University College London. The research team elaborated on how they fitted an extra robotic thumb on 36 people to watch how they adapt and use it in a report published in the journal Science Robotics.

The widely held belief is that simply because robotic augmentation is conceivable, it does not imply that we, humans should pursue it. Before making such a significant decision, the psychological toll should be assessed. The findings of this study revealed that robotic augmentation alters our brain’s perception of our bodies.

Right now, having a robotic body part may seem interesting and something to brag about, but robotic augmentation may become vital for labor-intensive employment in the future. Future research teams should delve deeper into this concept. Will laborers be able to re-adapt to their natural body movements if they had to wear an extra arm for their job?

Participants in the study quickly adjusted to their new thumbs and demonstrated increased productivity. But, according to Keiliba, this progress is accompanied by concern. “Using a robotic thumb as a second thumb is not beneficial to the brain.

People must adapt the way they use their natural fingers to use augmentative technology efficiently, build new movement synergies, and update the way their body is represented in the brain by doing so,” she explained.

The research team scanned the participants’ brains after the experiment to check if any alterations had occurred. They detected a considerable “shrinkage” in how individuals cognitively imagined their own hands, which is not the case when a person loses a limb.

While the study does not address the psychological effects of robotic augmentation with larger body parts, it will be vital in the future to explore these changes, particularly their impact on children and adolescents.

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