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The rise of cyborgs is only a matter of time – a look at human-computer integration

While we might be a few years away from fully-functioning cyborgs, the interplay between humans and computers is already present in the world around us.

robots fighting humans
Image: Corridor/Youtube

The symbiosis between humans and computers has existed solely in the pages of science-fiction novels for decades. However, now with technology evolving at a rapid rate, the connections between us and the digital world are becoming increasingly more tangible.

Indeed, from the study of human-computer interactions, we’re now moving into an era of integration. Described by Umer Farooq and Jonathan Grudin as a symbiotic relationship between humans and computers, integration is changing the way technology behaves.

In their 2016 study, they wrote on ‘the broad sense of a partnership or symbiotic relationship in which humans and software act with autonomy…’ and stated that ‘…integration is already well underway’.

Computer operation as a mimic of human behavior

While we might be a few years away from fully-functioning cyborgs, the interplay between humans and computers is already present in the world around us. Online trading is great example not only of human-computer interaction but integration.

In discussing her life as an online trader, Renee Mu highlights the role of intuition. Even though the latest trading software provides empirical data, logic can always be supplemented by human gut feeling according to Mu. Indeed, when we spoke to her, she suggested that successful trades come down to a symbiotic relationship between humans and computers.

“I prefer to combine both intuition and logic… When I feel something is wrong, I don’t ignore my feeling; instead, I look into it. My logic, on the other hand, helps me to interpret the information, or say, to decode it,” Mu explained.

From these connections, trading algorithms are becoming more complex. As well as reading market data, the latest programs use artificial intelligence to make assumptions. Much like a human using intuition, computers can combine logic and what could be considered a ‘gut feeling’ to make predictions. Although this may not be human-computer integration in the strictest sense, it’s an example of how computers are moving towards a less binary way of operating.

Interaction will lead to integration

At the University of Hamburg, these interactions are being taken to even deeper levels. Although current research is focused on human-computer interactions, the ultimate aim is to use the findings to support integration projects. For example, Dennis Krupke and Frank Steinicke have been working on the functions of a robotic gripper.

The experiments use a heterogeneous, extendible and immersive system that allows a human to control a robot arm remotely. The aim is to evaluate the interactions between human movements vs. the movements a robot is capable of. Much like trading algorithms using some form of intuition, the researchers want to see what a robot can do and, in turn, what new behaviors might emerge through human-computer interaction.

The end goal is to create human-robot technology that integrates the two in order to perform various tasks. While that may sound like a fantasy right now, many tech experts believe it’s inevitable. As computers become more advanced, we’re finding more ways to interact with them, and as these interactions evolve, the natural next step is integration. For tech fans, that’s an exciting prospect and, perhaps, a sign that cyborgs will soon become a reality.

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Chris has been blogging since the early days of the internet. He primarily focuses on topics related to tech, business, marketing, and pretty much anything else that revolves around tech. When he's not writing, you can find him noodling around on a guitar or cooking up a mean storm for friends and family.

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