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    Bereaving Hand: Digital Loss of Manual Dexterity May Alter Mankind's Future

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    Aristotle considered the hand to be "the instrument of instruments," Isaac Newton saw the thumb as "proof of God's existence," while Immanuel Kant regarded the hand as an "extension of the human brain" and a link between the body and the soul. However, the hand's importance in the modern world is dwindling due to automation.

    As the world becomes increasingly digitized, man is becoming less clever with his hands. Swedish professor and surgeon Göran Lundborg, one of the country's leading neurology specialists, has argued that if people lose their grip in this respect, it may have a drastic impact on mankind's future.

    "Today, manual dexterity is being deprioritized. To put it simply, a single finger is enough to press a key on the computer. Many of the tasks previously handled manually, today are performed by machines, robots, 3D printers, and more. It leaves you wondering what the consequences will be," professor Göran Lundborg told the daily Dagens Nyheter.

    In his book "Hands and Brains: From Lucy's Thumb to the Thought-Driven Robot Hand," Göran Lundborg illustrated how manual dexterity hands became the foundation of human culture. Among other things, Lundborg stressed that evolution-wise the hand developed far ahead of the brain and provided an impetus for the further progress of mankind. Today, he is working a sequel to "Hands and Brains," where he intends to dwell on the repercussions of the digital society.

    "For millions of years, the hand has developed 'knowledge' and the ability to improvise, which is unique," Göran Lundborg said, suggesting that the brain and the hand were mutually dependent.

    Already four million years ago, members of the proto-human species Ardipithecus ramidus developed a moving thumb, which laid the foundation for future handicraft and technology and became a pinnacle of evolution. Lundborg stressed that hands have until today been extremely significant in enhancing mankind's chances of survival. The surgeon also stressed the importance of "manual memory" which makes it possible to perform tasks automatically.

    ​"A violinist practicing eight hours a day is improving his skills. At the same time, playing the violin games make a great demand on the fine motor skills, boosting the 'hand' area of the brain. At the same time, neighboring cells are also affected," Lundborg explained.

    Today, however, much of the old craftsmanship and professional skills have been gone or are about to be lost to the digital society. Although Lundborg himself jokingly admitted that it is unlikely to cause man to shed "unnecessary" fingers, it still cannot go unobserved.

    "I'm not a doomsday prophet, who says that the reduced importance of the hand will lead to the fall of mankind. The digital revolution is inevitable and has contributed to a lot of positive things. However, it is important to find balance. We are biologically created to use our hands, and should not forget their existence, Lundborg said.

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    The professor stressed that crafts used to be a big part of the school curriculum. Today, the have been mostly replaced with subjects facilitating adaptation to the digital society. Therefore there is a great risk that the hand's "intelligence" is not taken seriously, Lundborg concluded.

    Over his illustrious career, spanning several decades at Skåne University Hospital in Malmö and Lund University, 74-year-old professor Lundborg has repaired many injured hands and is considered one of the country's leading surgeons.

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    Tags:
    future technologies, future, automation, digital, Scandinavia, Sweden
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