The Mind-Technology Problem - Investigating Minds, Selves and 21st Century Artifacts
We invite chapter contributions for the volume “The Mind-Technology Problem – Investigating Minds, Selves and 21st Century Artifacts” forthcoming in the book series Studies in Brain and Mind (Springer). This book explores the relation between philosophy of mind and emerging technologies. Technologies that only recently seemed to be science fiction are becoming part of everyday life. Our life is increasingly saturated with 'smart' artifacts. The ubiquitous and mobile Internet amounts to a radically new epistemic and cognitive environment which we already inhabit. This smart environment is saturated with artificial intelligence systems that not only guide us to information on the Internet, but are transforming the way we inhabit the non-virtual realm: the home, the urban environment and beyond.
In the process, these technologies may be viewed as a form of rapidly evolving cognitive enhancement (Schneider, 2016, Heersmink, 2015). They may also be radically changing the human cognitive profile (Schneider and Mandik, 2016, Clowes, 2015; Clark, 2007) including the possibility of mind uploading (Corabi and Schneider, 2012). Some see these trends as deeply worrying, undermining a raft of our cognitive and social capacities (Carr, 2010; Turkle, 2011). Others see the relationship as a more of a continuum with the long history of artifactually led, cognitive evolution of human beings (Malafouris, 2013; Clark, 2003).
These technologies appear to have important implications for the human mind, sense of identity and even perhaps what we think human beings are. Other technological tendencies may stretch our ideas further toward super-intelligence, (within the skin) cognitive enhancements, and more distantly perhaps, machine consciousness. Yet while ideas of artificial general intelligence, cognitive enhancements and a smart environment are widely commented on, a serious analysis of their philosophical implications is only now getting started.
In this edited volume, we seek the best philosophical analysis of what current and near future 21st technology means for the metaphysics of mind. Some of the questions still open include: Should the adoption or incorporation of current technologies, such as smart phones or wearable gadgets be viewed as enhancements or diminishments of the human mind? Or is such a framework too restricted? Might they transform the sorts of self-knowledge available to us, or what self-knowledge is? Might the use of such gadgetry force us to rethink the boundary between human beings and technology, or indeed enduring philosophical questions such as personal identity or what the self is? According to various theories of personal identity, are radical cognitive enhancements even compatible with personal survival?
In thinking about minds, there is a common tendency to define the ontological status of the mind in terms of whatever is the latest technology. The computational model of mind has certainly been one of the most influential and is currently undergoing important challenges and challenging reinventions (Schneider and Mandik, 2016). Is the notion that the mind or self as a program, which often guides public and philosophical discussions, metaphysically well founded? Whether or not our minds are actually computational, our ability to interface with machines, from virtual reality technologies such as Oculus Rift to our smart-phones and wearable gadgetry, are undergoing a profound shift and are rapidly reshaping the metaphors and concepts philosophers use to think about minds and the conclusion they draw (Metzinger, 2009; Chalmers, 2007).
As a follow up of our “Minds, Selves and 21st Century Technology” meeting in Lisbon (http://mindandcognition.weebly.com/mind-selves-and-technology.html), we seek high quality submissions that investigate the philosophical implications of the engagement between 21st century technology, metaphysics and the philosophy of mind. We are especially interested in submissions that do not indulge in extensive futuristic speculation but focus on current or near-ready technologies which are already changing the shape of the human (and machine) cognitive landscape and our philosophical understanding of mind. Research question include the following:
Extended Mind, Extended Cognition, Distributed self:
· How should we think of distributed and extended memory in the context of 21st century technology?
· Can artifacts make possible new forms of extended self-knowledge? What are the consequences of artifacts—for instance, the ubiquitous smart-phone—for notions such as the minimal self, the narrative self, or the distributed self?
· What is the role of cognitive artifacts in the cognitive enhancement debate?
Metaphysics of the mind:
· Does the current state of the art of machine consciousness, brain enhancement or smart ambient technology warrant predictions and extrapolations on questions like personal identity, privacy, super intelligence, etc. many want to make?
· Does current work in this realm tell us anything about phenomenal consciousness? The organization of mind? The possibility of artificial minds?
· Do hierarchical predictive processing systems support the theoretical literature on the metaphysics of mind (mind, big data, minds online, deep minds)?
Radical Brain Enhancement and Uploading:
· Would an uploaded mind be me? Is mind uploading a myth?
· Does radical brain enhancement challenge our sense of self, personal identity and / or humanity?
Susan Schneider (University of Connecticut)
Gualtiero Piccinini (University of Missouri – St. Louis)
Mark Bickhard (Lehigh University)
Paul Smart (University of Southampton)
Richard Heersmink (Macquarie University)
Ron Chrisley (University of Sussex)
Georg Theiner (Vilanova University)
Keith Frankish (University of Crete)
Gerald Vision (Temple University)
Papers should not exceed 8,000 words.
We especially encourage researchers who are women and/or underrepresented minorities to submit
For further questions please contact the editors: Robert W. Clowes (firstname.lastname@example.org), Klaus Gärtner (email@example.com), or Inês Hipólito (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Please send your contributions to email@example.com.
Deadline: 31st of January, 2018
Carr, N. (2010). The Shallows: How the internet is changing the way we think, read and remember. London: Atlantic Books.
Chalmers, D. (2007). Forward to Supersizing the Mind Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action and Cognitive Extension. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Clark, A. (2003). Natural Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies and the Future of Human Intelligence. New York: Oxford University Press.
Clark, A. (2007). Re-inventing ourselves: The plasticity of embodiment, sensing, and mind. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 32(3), 263-282.
Clowes, R. W. (2015). Thinking in the cloud: The Cognitive Incorporation of Cloud-Based Technology. Philosophy and Technology, 28, Issue 2,(2), 261-296.
Corabi, J., & Schneider, S. (2012). Metaphysics of Uploading. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 19 (7):26.
Heersmink, R. (2015). Extended mind and cognitive enhancement: moral aspects of cognitive artifacts. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 1-16.
Malafouris, L. (2013). How Things Shape the Mind: MIT Press.
Metzinger, T. (2009). The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self: Basic Books.
Schneider, S. (Ed.). (2016). Science fiction and philosophy: from time travel to superintelligence. John Wiley & Sons.
Schneider, S., & Mandik, P. (2016). How philosophy of mind can shape the future. Philosophy of Mind in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. London: Routledge.
Turkle, S. (2011). Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Basic Books.
For an amazing adventure of 4 years of study. This is possible by virtue of the great generosity of the University in offering me a full scholarship to develop a project on Mind and Cognition.
Couldn't ask for more, nor be more excited!
This is Wollongong,
I am finally sitting down to write a paper I am for long aiming for. Hopefully, It will appear in a forthcoming book João Pereira and I are editing for Vernon Press. The basis ideia is to explore and attempt to overcome the fact that both the traditional and the contemporary understanding of schizophrenic condition manifest what one might call the two main tenets of neurobiological reductionism. The assumption, of an exclusively brain-to-mind direction of causality, implies that cultural or social factors can be no more than merely “pathoplastic” importance (see Kleinman, 1987; Sass, 1992, p. 358). While the assumption of lowered mental level implies that the subjectivity of such patients lacks real complexity and can readily be described in quantitative and pure deficit terms: as a mere dimming of diminishment of higher or more reflective forms of conscious life.
What seems problematic is the often unreflected-upon ways in which the underlying nature and experience of these symptoms are being conceptualized, and in which their pathogenic role is being conceived. Too often, psychiatric discussion of schizophrenia and culture has taken place in a kind of phenomenological and theoretical vacuum⎯ without careful consideration of the qualitative specificity of schizophrenic experience or a sufficiently focused and coordinated appreciation of the sociocultural order. Here we shall claim the importance of taking the patient’s subjective experience of the disorder into account ⎯ acknowledging the limitations of a reductive explanation of such experiential dimension, we should attempt to open an effective dialogue with psychopathology and the sociocultural environment, and the means by which the later affect the former. Cultural forms and practices, understood as “patterns of meanings embodied in symbols”, seem to set of control mechanisms guiding experience and behaviour within a certain culture. To partake this cultural framework means thus, to sense solidarity or trust in others, or to speak, think, and gesture with that easy synthesis of spontaneity and convention that identifies one as a member of a given social group. Such developments may have, thus, consequences on everyday cognitive functioning.
Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) was a well known Portuguese poet, who lived closely the industrial turn, and whose work is a valuable poetic contribution to the Futuristic poetry in Europe. As it is known, Pessoa was diagnosed with dementia praecox, and in his poetry, he indeed manifests the lived dilacerations of self-experience,
I don’t know how many souls I have.
I’ve changed at every moment.
I always feel like a stranger.
I’ve never seen or found myself.
From being so much, I have only soul.
A man who has soul has no calm.
A man who sees is just what he sees.
A man who feels is not who he is.
Through the heteronym phenomenon, Pessoa creates a plurality of biological narratives, that I shall explore, in the upcoming paper, to illustrate that our capacity to understand intentional actions in terms of reasons has a decidedly sociocultural basis.
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