The cognitive science perspective on Converging Technologies

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1 The cognitive science perspective on Converging Technologies Daniel Andler Department of cognitive science, Ecole normale supérieure & Department of philosophy, Université de Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV)

2 1. What cognitive science isn t and what it is What cognitive science is not: the/a science of knowledge, as in the knowledge society It is narrower: It is concerned only with the most basic and general aspects of knowledge, as a state in which an organism can find itself under certain circumstances (what distinctive sort of state? which circumstances?) It is broader: Knowledge is but one special case within the huge space of possible states of an organism which cogsci wants to investigate.

3 What cognitive science is The science of mind (processes, functions, components) (Something akin to) psychology But freed from some of the constraints operating on previous paradigms in psychology; transformed (transfigured?) by the intervention of disciplines with equally strong claims to a window on the mind

4 What disciplines? The formal sciences Psychology Neuroscience Linguistics Philosophy The social sciences

5 : the transformation of cognitive science Artificial intelligence (AI) no longer central, and blends into an array of modelling techniques. Neuroscience claims leadership. Cognitive psychology expands (from cold, normal, adult, individual cognition to hot, impaired, developing and/or social cognition); partly fuses with neuroscience: cognitive neuroscience, with quasi-compulsory recourse to functional brain imagery. Linguistics expands (several paradigms; also historical and comparative). Philosophy expands (huge increase, many more themes, phenomenology contributes...). Economics, social psychology, sociology undergo a cognitive turn. Evolutionary thinking becomes prevalent. Psychiatry, medecine, law, art, science (as process) become topics for cogsci.

6 Cognitive science and CTEKS Cogsci, purporting to be the science of man as cognitive system, all but surrounds the target of CT. Cogsci/CT = Pure science/applied science? or Science / Technology? Not always: in some cases, the specific cognitive properties are filtered out; also, areas such as health and environment are only indirectly connected to human cognition.

7 Import of cogsci on specific areas of CT Information science: AI broadly construed (incl. HCI, human-centered computing, cognitive engineering, and the standards NLP, computer-aided decision, design, instruction..., artificial vision, classical robotics) Neuroscience: integrative NS and (indirectly) cellular and molecular, pharmacology, medecine (Combining IS and NS) Neurocomputing, tools and foundations of brain imagery, neurobotics, neural chips, implants, prostheses)

8 Implication of cogsci in CTEKS at the general level Why it is important: Human-centered orientation = CTs for wo/man. De-emphasing the artefact, reemphasing its use and effects on human life. What it contributes: The scientific stance as (i) enhancing chances of success in the long run; (ii) only protection against permanent threat of unwanted consequences, perverse effects, irreversible damage.

9 What does the scientific stance result in? It creates a scientific image, distinct from the manifest image (Wilfrid Sellars s phrases). The notion that there is such a thing as a scientific image, and that it may be at considerable variance with the manifest image, is a familiar and wellaccepted idea regarding natural phenomena/entities. By contrast, it is unpopular as regards human realm. The very idea of naturalisation is deeply unsettling to some.

10 (1+1) +1 kinds of psychology Psychology (in any sense) as knowledge of our mental toolkit, cognitive apparatus, tacit knowledge, skills, know-how... Psychology-1: naive, lay, spontaneously acquired through unsystematic reflection, informal education... Psychology-2: learned, systematic, philosophical, deliberately acquired and transmitted by the means of higher culture Psychology-1+2: commonsense psychology (two intermingled layers) Psychology-3: scientific

11 Which kind of psychology works for what? Commonsense psychology generally good for everyday dealings with world/people, thanks presumably to natural selection (of psychology-1) and cultural selection (of psychology-2). How good is it beyond those tasks?

12 The bone of contention Opinion A: Commonsense psychology (possibly systematized) is all we need [all we have, adds the skeptic] in all circumstances and for all applications. Opinion B: Commonsense psychology, though successful in some areas, fails drastically in others [and there is something to put in its place, pace the skeptic].

13 Areas where CS fails and S may succeed Cases where CS doesn t have a clue: subpersonal, nonconscious processes; Cases where CS is suspected of being prey to a massive misconception; Cases where CS is promoted out of its depth: non- ecological situations (natural/cultural boundaries crossed: complex systems, blackberry syndrom in adv d countries, hightech in traditional cultures, etc.)

14 Does anyone defend Opinion A? Yes! Who? A large part of social science A large part of the IT community A large part of the general public A large proportion of decision-makers

15 Why is Opinion A so entrenched? Superficial systematization or formalization, giving an impression of scientificity which mercifully preserves the manifest image and makes it seem as if it can do the work. The tabula rasa/constructivist thesis: man has no nature, and can be taught / enculturated into (just about) anything. The fear of losing something essential by letting the scientific image replace the manifest image.

16 The fundamental contribution of cognitive science The very idea of a texture of the human mind. Pretty solid evidence that this texture is fairly specific, so that not everything goes (can be learned or assimilated by culture), for reasons going beyond mere quantitative limits (resources, memory, attention-span, lifespan, noise...). A growing body of scientific knowledge about that texture.

17 What about the social dimension? Cognitive science must and can provide the social sciences a manageable summary of the texture of the mind, relevant to their goals. Cognitive science directly contributes to the understanding of man as social being: social cognition distributed cognition

18 Why is the social-cognitive interface so important to CTEKS? CTs, if as successful as we hope (/fear), will presumably profoundly affect some of our notions and practices regarding self/others, human/humanoid, real/virtual, communities, constituencies, networks... CTs, if insufficiently informed by socialcognitive science, run the risk of perverse effects, misuse or rejection.

19 What can CTEKS do for cognitive science? In general, technology is ahead of science on some fronts, and directly taps commonsense, skills, tacit knowledge; thus providing motivation and heuristics to fundamental science. Specifically, CT can direct cognitive science towards socially essential issues, and enforce a higher degree of precision and operativity.

20 Scientistic threat on humankind? It may be thought that if CT rests on a well-developed cognitive science and cognitive science is naturalistic and reductionistic, then CT will contribute to the dehumanisation of our lives.

21 Scientistic threat... But that is a big mistake: the clearer our scientific image becomes, the better our chances of discovering human solutions pursuing the scientific image does not mean giving up on the manifest image, nor renouncing tacit knowledge, skills and know-how to develop and refine our technological toolbox.

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