The sense of agency in emerging technologies for human–computer integration: A review

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Human–computer integration is an emerging area in which the boundary between humans and technology is blurred as users and computers work collaboratively and share agency to execute tasks. The sense of agency (SoA) is an experience that arises by a combination of a voluntary motor action and sensory evidence whether the corresponding body movements have somehow influenced the course of external events. The SoA is not only a key part of our experiences in daily life but also in our interaction with technology as it gives us the feeling of “I did that” as opposed to “the system did that,” thus supporting a feeling of being in control. This feeling becomes critical with human–computer integration, wherein emerging technology directly influences people’s body, their actions, and the resulting outcomes. In this review, we analyse and classify current integration technologies based on what we currently know about agency in the literature, and propose a distinction between body augmentation, action augmentation, and outcome augmentation. For each category, we describe agency considerations and markers of differentiation that illustrate a relationship between assistance level (low, high), agency delegation (human, technology), and integration type (fusion, symbiosis). We conclude with a reflection on the opportunities and challenges of integrating humans with computers, and finalise with an expanded definition of human–computer integration including agency aspects which we consider to be particularly relevant. The aim this review is to provide researchers and practitioners with guidelines to situate their work within the integration research agenda and consider the implications of any technologies on SoA, and thus overall user experience when designing future technology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number949138
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Cornelio, Haggard, Hornbaek, Georgiou, Bergström, Subramanian and Obrist.

    Research areas

  • action, body, human-computer integration, human–computer interaction (HCI), outcome, sense of agency (SoA)

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