Machine learning & AI

Blind trust in augmentation technologies drives risk-taking, even if the technology is a hoax, according to a study.

According to a new study that was published in Computers in Human Behavior, when people expect that augmentation technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) will improve their performance, there may be a phenomenon known as the “placebo effect.” The specialists found that people with exclusive standards for these innovations take part in less secure directions, which could be an issue as individuals embrace these advancements without appropriately figuring out their advantages and cutoff points.

It is now commonplace to use augmentation technologies that improve our physical, cognitive, or sensory performance. Some are used so frequently that they are no longer visible—for instance, spellcheck—and new technologies are emerging that have the potential to surpass human capabilities, such as exoskeletons and AI-based vision enhancement. However, the hype surrounding these technologies also creates expectations, which have the potential to alter behavior.

According to Robin Welsch, an assistant professor at Aalto University, “individuals are more inclined to take risks when they believe they are enhanced by cutting-edge technologies like AI or brain-computer interfaces.” This happens regardless of whether genuine innovation is involved, demonstrating that it’s about individuals’ assumptions as opposed to any perceptible improvement. A strong belief in improvement based on a false system, according to the findings, can alter decision-making.”

“This occurs even when no actual enhancement technology is used, indicating that it is more about people’s expectations than any discernible improvement.” The findings also suggest that a strong confidence in improvement based on a fictitious system can influence decision-making.”

 Robin Welsch, assistant professor at Aalto University.

Don’t put your faith in the processor. Welsch and colleagues from LMU Munich, HU Berlin, and Aalto University used the well-known Columbia Card Task to measure decision-making and risk-taking behavior. In the examination, members win or lose points by turning over cards with stowed-away qualities. By employing binaural sounds to track the loss cards, the 27 participants were led to believe that the placebo, a brain-computer interface controlled by AI, would improve their cognitive abilities.

However, the game was rigged because participants almost never encountered a loss card, and the augmentation provided no real benefit. However, the majority of participants believed that the augmentation had improved their performance, leading them to take on greater risks. These results demonstrate that fictitious cognitive enhancements can have real effects on taking risks.

Steeven Villa, a doctoral researcher at LMU Munich, asserts, “People’s expectations are skewed by the hype surrounding these technologies.” It can lead individuals to make more dangerous choices and ideal client assessments, which can have genuine outcomes.”

Innovation is rarely impartial.
Present-day artificial intelligence-based vision improvement apparatuses are opening up so that firemen might see through smoke, and assembly line laborers are now exploiting exoskeletons to deal with loads that resist human build. Knowledge workers could benefit in a similar way from the gradual effects of generative AI systems. The authors are concerned that erroneous expectations could lead to a greater appetite for risk in entire professions.

According to Thomas Kosch, a professor at HU Berlin, “AI-based technologies that enhance users are increasingly common and play a role in real-life decisions that impact people’s lives, well-being, confidence, and safety.” To guarantee the adequacy of new advancements past the publicity, fake treatment-controlled examinations are essential for precise assessment and approval to differentiate fake relief from genuine development.”

More information: Steeven Villa et al, The placebo effect of human augmentation: Anticipating cognitive augmentation increases risk-taking behavior, Computers in Human Behavior (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2023.107787

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