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Placebo effects in technical applications increase risk-taking behavior

Placebo effects in technical applications increase risk-taking behavior


Human augmentation technology refers to technical assistance that enhances human capabilities. This includes things like augmented reality headsets, as well as exoskeletons. A study by LMU’s Human-Centric Ubiquitous Media Chair found that users have high expectations of the effectiveness of these technologies. As soon as they believe AI is improving their cognitive abilities, they start taking risks. And it does this regardless of whether the AI ​​is actually assisting it or not.

The hype around AI applications affects user expectations. This can lead to more dangerous behavior. ”

Steven Villa, Postdoctoral Fellow at Human-Centric Ubiquitous Media Chair and lead author of the study

Exclusion of placebo effect

In this study, participants were informed that they would be assisted by an AI application that enhanced their cognitive abilities during a virtual card game. There was actually no such AI enhancement. Nevertheless, participants were willing to take higher risks as soon as they believed they were benefiting from AI.

This study points out that in this kind of technical application there may be placebo effects similar to well-established placebo effects in pharmaceuticals. “As people interact more and more with intelligent systems, it’s important to understand the potential placebo effect so that we can build systems that provide real support,” he said. Professor Albrecht said his Schmidt. Before releasing an AI application, researchers recommend evaluating its real-world benefits, given possible placebo effects. Additionally, they advise technology companies to involve users and their expectations more deeply in the development process.


Ludwig Maximilian University Munich

Reference magazines:

Villa, S. other. (2023) Placebo Effect of Human Augmentation: Anticipation of Cognitive Augmentation Increases Risk-Taking Behavior. Computer in human behavior.




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