Colloquium Cognitive Systems

Amplifying Human Abilities: Digital Technologies to Enhance Perception and Cognition

Albrecht Schmidt, University of Munich 


Abstract. Historically the use and development of tools is strongly linked to human evolution and intelligence. The last 10.000 years show a stunning progress in physical tools that have transformed what people can do and how people live. Currently, we are at the beginning of an even more fundamental transformation: the use of digital tools to amplify the mind. Digital technologies provide us with entirely new opportunities to enhance the perceptual and cognitive abilities of humans. Many ideas, ranging from mobile access to search engines, to wearable devices for lifelogging and augmented realty application give as first indications of this transition. In our research we create novel digital technologies that systematically explore how to enhance human cognition and perception. Our experimental approach is to: first, understand the users in their context as well as the potential for enhancement. Second, we create innovative interventions that provide functionality that amplifies human capabilities. And third, we empirically evaluate and quantify the enhancement that is gained by these developments. It is exciting to see how ultimately these new ubiquitous computing technologies have the potential for overcoming fundamental limitations in human perception and cognition.

Bio. Albrecht Schmidt is a professor for User Centered Ubiquitous Media at the University of Munich. He studied computer science in Ulm and Manchester and receive in 2003 a PhD from the Lancaster University in the UK. The focus of his work is on novel user interfaces to enhance and amplify human cognition. He is co-founder of the ACM conference on Tangible and Embedded Interaction (TEI), initiated the ACM conference on Automotive User Interfaces, co-chaired the ACM SIGCHI program and is on the editorial board of ACM ToCHI. In 2016 he received a ERC Consolidator Grant to work on the Project “AMPLIFY: Amplifying Human Perception Through Interactive Digital Technologies”.