We’re finally getting Spider-Man and Batman!
Recent advances in artificial intelligence make you wonder what will be the next step towards a cyberpunk-like dystopian future for humanity? According to scientists, it will be human augmentation consisting in attaching robot parts to our bodies. From an extra thumb or arm to help with everyday activities, to wings and tentacles that will turn us into super villains. Maybe.
Before we get Cyberpunk 2077-style power-ups that can take down gangs or jump to the top of houses, Tamar Makin, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience in the MRC’s Cognition and Brain Unit at the University of Cambridge, explained in The Guardianthat the current approach to human enhancement focuses on increasing productivity.
If you want a helping hand while cooking so you can stir soup while chopping vegetables, you may have the option to carry and independently control an additional robotic arm.
Tamar Makin said.
Scientists have been experimenting in this field for years. One of the most famous examples is 3D printed “third thumb” created by Danielle Clode, a colleague of Makin’s at the University of Cambridge. It has been designed with a variety of workplace applications in mind, including helping waiters to carry extra plates or construction workers holding objects while hammering nails. Hitting the “third thumb” with a hammer is painless.
Another difference compared to the enhanced humans from sci-fi movies is that the brain doesn’t control the robot parts. In the case of the thumb, it is controlled by pressure sensors located under the two big toes, which can cause problems.
“Right now, we’re doing a lot of research to see what effect using your big toes as an extra finger has on your nervous system – how much [wpływa] Is it your ability to use your fingers as fingers?” Makin said.
While there have been studies of using electrodes in the brain or spinal cord to control external robotic devices, Makin believes this invasive approach is ethically unwarranted when performed on healthy people.
Makin also said that adding wings and tentacles is possible. “The real problem is control. So the wings are actually really straight because it’s just one degree of freedom – up and down. But when we have something more complicated like tentacles, we need a lot of control.”
So first Vulture, then Doctor Octopus. According to the canon. And for good measure, Poison Ivy.