It takes a human baby a year to get a basic comprehension of language and learn words, while it takes three years to get a level of proficiency where they can speak intelligible short phrases. But it looks like humans have a particular affinity for learning machines and controlling them as if they were part of their own bodies.

According to research conducted by the folks over at Queen Mary University of London, Imperial College London, and The University of Melbourne, it takes a person only an hour to learn how to control robotic limbs.

Mankind has been obsessed with cybernetics for a while.  Think Robocop, or Jax Briggs from Mortal Kombat, or Cyborg from DC, but with extra robotic appendages than the usual two bestowed upon us by evolution. Take a look at how a company is offering functionally cool cybernetic arms called MetaLimbs in the video below:

"Supernumerary robotic arms have been proposed as a way to allow people to do these tasks more easily, but until now, it was not clear how easy they would be to use," says the lead author of the latest research.

The team found that working with an extra pair of robotic arms was as practical and rewarding as working with a human partner on a designated task. In case you feel like hurting a few thousand neurons, the full research paper published in the IEEE Open Journal of Engineering in Medicine and Biology is here.

If you're interested in knowing how it feels to live with a robotic arm, read this excellent profile story published in MIT Technology Review. Also, I am not sure when – and how – robotic arms will become as mainstream as phones, but when they do, just don't become this guy:

Doctor Octopus from Marvel film universe.
Credit: Sony Pictures

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