Scientists say advancements in human augmentation could give us robotic arms, wings, or...


Posts: 8,797   +110
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Forward-looking: With artificial intelligence making huge advancements over the last few months, what's the next step toward humanity's cyberpunk-like dystopian future? According to scientists, it will be human augmentation involving robot parts being attached to our bodies, from an extra arm to help with everyday tasks to wings and tentacles that turns us into supervillains, maybe.

Before we have a vision of Cyberpunk 2077-style augs that can take out gangs of criminals or let us jump on top of houses, Tamar Makin, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the MRC cognition and brain unit at Cambridge University, explained to The Guardian that the current approach to human augmentation is focused on increasing productivity.

"If you want an extra arm while you're cooking in the kitchen so you can stir the soup while chopping the vegetables, you might have the option to wear and independently control an extra robotic arm," she said.

Scientists have been experimenting in this field for years. One of the most famous examples is the 3D-printed 'third thumb' created by Dani Clode, a colleague of Makin's at Cambridge University. It's designed with various workplace applications in mind, including helping waiters carry extra plates and construction workers hold joists in place while hammering a nail.

Another difference from the augmented humans in sci-fi media is that the brain doesn't control these robot parts. In the case of the thumb, it's controlled by pressure sensors underneath a wearer's two big toes, a method that could cause issues.

"We're doing a lot of research at the moment to see what it does to your nervous system if you start reappropriating your toes to become an extra finger – how much [does] it affects your ability to use your toes as a toe?" Makin said.

While there has been research into using electrodes in the brain or spinal cord to control external robotic devices, Makin believes this invasive approach is ethically unjustifiable when performed on healthy humans.

Makin also said adding wings and tentacles was a possibility. "Control is the real issue. So wings are actually really simple because it's just one degree of freedom – up and down. But when you're doing something more complicated, like a tentacle, we need a lot of control."

These types of robotic attachments have been around for years. The thumb was unveiled in 2017, and you might remember the robotic tail from 2019 that's designed to improve agility and balance. The technology behind them is advancing - the recent self-healing robot finger with living skin and Raspberry Pi-powered exoskeleton is proof of that – but it could be a while before we're flying off to work and picking up cups of coffee with our tentacles.

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Posts: 16   +55
"Modern" world can't find solutions for basic problems, worse, its solutions for basic problems create more problems. Since the 90's, I'd say that they find solutions to non existing problems.

So true! Is the world getting any better? Nut really… war on every continent, cancer rates, asthma, autism, mental health… loneliness… junk food and pollution… destruction of nature… deforestation…. But hey we can watch endless videos on TckTock…


Posts: 4,216   +4,995
Advancements somewhere could possibly improve something. Thanks, scientists!


Posts: 765   +508
So true! Is the world getting any better? Nut really… war on every continent, cancer rates, asthma, autism, mental health… loneliness… junk food and pollution… destruction of nature… deforestation…. But hey we can watch endless videos on TckTock…

Yes. And that's on purpose. Somewhere around 1960'es or 1970'es already it was decided by some powerful b'stards that money for civil science and inventions should be dispersed into irrelevant projects, to slow down the development of real science. At least for general population.

And that's visible today on the global scale, in almost every country. For example, EU will grant funding for any kind of crap, I mean totally useless crap, but not if you want to research something really important.

Of course, things are different when private corporations and organizations are spending money for their secret projects. They use proper scientists on proper projects and get proper results. Which are then not released publicly. But they DO act on them.


Posts: 154   +43
Augmentation is something I certainly welcome, if it would be something like a memory chip. One of the most tragic things about today's living is that someone who is intellectual but who doesn't have a legendary memory wastes a huge amount of time learning only to forget a huge portion of it. I would also welcome the ability to understand advanced math and other subjects that don't come to me easily.

I don't want to forget what I've learned, although there has to be a way to jettison the irrelevances. Of course, because humanity is controlled by corruption, any memory chip will have severe baked-in drawbacks. Censorship anyone? Ads? Irrational ideologies masquerading as common sense?

Augmentation may be the thing that saves us from extinction. Clearly, we're not capable of being responsible without it, AI running things, or both.

At this time, also, science doesn't have a solution for the problem of cancer developing around foreign objects like memory chips. The immune system is still much too out of our control.