Electronics and Computer Science (ECS), University of Southampton

Electronics and Computer Science (ECS)

Seminar: Distributed Cognition and the Socially-Extended Mind

Speaker: Dr Paul Smart
Time: 21/11/2012 11:00-12:00
Location: B32/3077


Whereas the traditional view in cognitive science has been to see mind and cognition as something that is the result of essentially inner, neural processes, the extended cognition perspective claims that at least some human mental states and processes stem from complex webs of causal influence involving extra-neural resources, most notably the resources of our social and technological environments. This perspective seems particularly relevant to research efforts that seek to understand the way in which cognitive processes are influenced by social contexts. In this talk, we will examine the profile of information flow and influence associated with extended cognitive processing at both the individual and collective levels. We will then examine the extent to which the capabilities of the (current) Web could be said to provide to the material grounding for socially-extended cognitive systems. Finally, we will review some of the recent computer simulation work within the WAIS group that seeks to shed light on the relationship between social networks, individual cognitive processing and collective cognitive performance. I will aim to present (and at least partially defend) the claim that individual cognitive 'shortcomings' can sometimes play a productive role in collective cognitive processing; i.e., that individual cognitive biases and processing limitations can sometimes work towards the collective cognitive good.