March 10, 2024 at 11:41 am

Neuropsychology Professor Warns AI Could Atrophy Our Brains Because It’s A “Cognitive Prosthesis”

by Trisha Leigh

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There is no shortage of arguments when it comes to AI – both for and against – and neither side is anywhere close to finding common ground.

Now this new neuropsychology professor is weighing in with another big con when it comes to humans using AI.

There is a history of research that suggests when we don’t use a part of our brain, it’s skills start to fall away. And in the same way that using GPS,. our sense of spatial cognition and memory, Professor Umberto León Domínguez says using AI chatbot could harm our cognitive functioning overall.

He’s grown concerned about how many students are using tools like ChatGPT on a regular basis. So, he set out to study how AI chatbots could “interfere with higher-order executive functions to understand how to also train these skills.”

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It’s not going to be easy.

“I began to explore and generalize the impact, not only as a student but as humanity, of the catastrophic effects of these technologies could have on a significant portion of the population by blocking the development of these cognitive functions.”

His paper was published in the American Psychology Association’s journal Neuropsychology. In it, Domínguez calls AI a “cognitive prosthesis.”

This isn’t a new theory. It was first put forth by Falk Lieder, an AI researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in 2019, basically supposing that AI would form synthetic mental limbs. Eventually, our brains and bodies will be unaccustomed to problem solving without them.

Where Lieder supposed this might be a good thing, Domínguez doesn’t agree. He’s worried about “cognitive offloading,” meaning the use of AI for thought processes may weaken our minds, eventually leading to atrophy.

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If you want to get deeper into the rabbit hole, he even worries that chatbots could be capable of “planning and making decisions on your behalf.”

“Just as one cannot become skilled at basketball without actually playing the game, the development of complex intellectual abilities requires active participation and cannot solely rely on technological assistance.”

When we consider how technology like GPS and cell phones have already re-written our brains, it’s not out of pocket to assume AI could do that.

And maybe a whole lot more.

If you enjoyed that story, check out what happened when a guy gave ChatGPT $100 to make as money as possible, and it turned out exactly how you would expect.