Technology and cognition situated cognition2013


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Technology and Cognition

Just Because We Can, Should We?

Minds and Machines

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Technology and cognition situated cognition2013

  1. 1. Technology and Cognition Just Because We Can, Should We? Minds and Machines
  2. 2. Just Because We Can, Should We? • No! • Duh!
  3. 3. Just Because We Can, Should We? An Argument • Premise 1: If we can, we will • Premise 2: If we will, we should • Conclusion: If we can, we should
  4. 4. Just Because We Can, Will We? • No! • Duh!
  5. 5. We Control Technology, Technology does not Control Us • We don’t feel that we will, or are even more inclined to do something, just because we can. • We feel in control. We make the decisions, not the tools, technology, or situation around us. • Commonly Believed Corrolary: Technology is not good or bad. It is us who decide whether to use technology in a good or bad way.
  6. 6. The Neutrality of Technology • “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”
  7. 7. However … • “Why do people climb mountains? Because they are there” – H. Korman • "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad man.“ – Lord Acton, British Historian
  8. 8. From: “Drone Strikes Reveal A Lost Moral Compass” • Last year at this time, in preparation for the harvest feast, the children joined their grandmother […] in the field to pick okra. Though often aware of the intimidating drone of these robotic machines overhead, the family, secure in its own sense of innocence, was unprepared for the hellfire that descended on them unexpectedly when a drone fired missile struck them followed swiftly by a second. When the dust and the cries for help subsided, eight relatives, including the children, were found to be wounded and their grandmother […] dead, her body burned and torn beyond recognition.
  9. 9. From: “Drone Strikes Reveal A Lost Moral Compass” (Cont’d) • There is, I fear, an explanation. A compass has gone askew, the moral compass that when pointing true tells us when our worship of war as a substitute for wise foreign policy and its lethal ever-expanding soulless technology is leading us into a legal, moral, spiritual abyss.
  10. 10. From: “Drone Strikes Reveal A Lost Moral Compass” (Cont’d) • [J]ust as those poorly plotted maneuvers over our children's heads remind us that we are at war, the senseless murder of a grandmother […] should remind us that […] the horrors we model, condone and justify today are shaping a dystopian future […] where the commitments to human rights and law are quaint, outmoded notions that can be shredded and burned beyond recognition because ... well, because we can. – Albany Times Union, November 16, 2013
  11. 11. A Sobering Video Baghdad AirStrike July 17, 2007 (embedded video)
  12. 12. The Plan • I will use cognitive science to make an argument that tools, technology, and the nature of our environment can have an impact on our inclinations to do or not do something.
  13. 13. Traditional, Naïve, View of Cognition CognitionSense Act Environment Agent (Brain) Cognition = f(brain) Perception and Action are ‘mere’ input to and output from thinking, reasoning, problem solving, and decision-making
  14. 14. Catching a Fly Ball
  15. 15. The World as External Memory • Situated Cognition people say that the brain often uses the environment as a kind of ‘external memory’. Examples: – Taking apart your computer: how do you lay down the pieces to get it back together? – Notes you write to yourself – Planners, calendars, cellphones, laptops
  16. 16. Copying Blocks Experiment Original Copy Bins Task: Subjects have to make a copy of the configuration of blocks on the left by ‘grabbing’ individual blocks from the bins at the bottom and placing them on the right. Result: after grabbing block from bin, eyes would move to original to check position
  17. 17. ‘Epistemic moves’: Moves that are not part of a solution, but help find one Rotating Slamming
  18. 18. No Opposable Thumbs …
  19. 19. External Representations … VI / XLIV ??
  20. 20. Biological Being • We often think the boundary between ‘me’ and ‘my environment’ is my skin: – Me: heart, lungs, legs, bones, brain, etc. – Not Me: clothes, wallet, laptop, glasses, etc. • This distinction makes sense if I talk about genetics, diseases, growth, etc.: biology!
  21. 21. Physical Being • As a physical being I have: – Mass – Shape – Color • These properties allow us to explain and predict things such as: – How much weight I add to an airplane – How people can recognize me from other people • But note: things like clothes, glasses, wallet, are part of me. This is my physical being.
  22. 22. Cognitive Being • As a cognitive being, I: – See things – Remember things – Solve problems – Make decisions – Etc • According to situated cognition, I may need to refer to things that are outside of my biological (or physical) being in order to explain those capacities.
  23. 23. Situated View on Cognition ProcessingSense Act Environment Cognitive Agent (Brain) Cognition
  24. 24. Using Tools to create a new Cognitive System? Cognitive System A World Cognitive System A Tool World Cognitive System B
  25. 25. Our Best Tool: Language • Literacy • Numeracy • Science • Math • Logic • Language allows us to pass knowledge and skills along to others, through all of space and time. It is a huge part of culture.
  26. 26. Evolution Darwin Wallace ‘Discovered’ the theory of evolution independently. Coincidence? Did one look over the shoulder of the other? No. Many of the ingredients and basic ideas for evolution were already in place. Darwin and Wallace were both able to put the final pieces in and complete the puzzle. In fact, the history of science and inventions is full of such ‘multiple discovery’: it shows that ideas don’t originate from a ‘naked’ brain, let alone ‘pop’ up in a brain, but instead gradually evolve in the public domain.
  27. 27. Talk about Evolution: Next Step in Cognition? Think!Sense Act Environment Agent
  28. 28. No! Cognition will advance by incorporating more and more tools Process Sense Act Environment Cognitive Agent 1 Tool ActSense Cognitive Agent 2
  29. 29. OK, So What?
  30. 30. Exploration and Exploitation • As a controller, the brain has to figure out how what it controls is able to interact with the world. • That is, before it can ‘exploit’ its powers, it first needs to ‘explore’ its powers. • Thus, it has to figure out the action potentials of what it controls, as well as those of its environment. As such, the brain will figure out and classify things as: – walkable – reachable – graspable – movable – hammerable …?
  31. 31. Hammer-Man! Hammers don’t hit Nails, People Do! “If all you have is a hammer, everything becomes a nail” - Bernard Baruch
  32. 32. Copying Blocks Experiment II Original Copy Bins Same task as before. However, original is hidden by square, and you have to click on it to reveal the original. Moreover, it takes a certain amount of time for original to appear. Result: the more time it took for original to appear, the more subjects started to rely on internal memory (brain).
  33. 33. The Google Effect • The Google effect is that people forget those things that they can ‘Google’. • Some people lament this, saying that people have become ‘lazy’ or ‘stupid’, not unlike how the calculator has made people worse at basic arithmetic. • But in reality, this was in fact a very smart move of the brain. Incorporating the internet as external memory is not ‘lazy’, but efficient. And while brain alone = less smart, brain + internet = smarter! • Most importantly, the brain naturally integrates its environment if it makes sense: we don’t control this!
  34. 34. How our Brain Integrates Technology: Perception (Click on pic for vid)
  35. 35. How our Brain Integrates Technology: Action (click on pic for vid)
  36. 36. Monday, November 25 4-6pm EMPAC Theater Dr. Jonathan Wolpaw “Adaptive Neurotechnologies: Principles & Promise” Live Demonstration of Brain-Computer Interface!
  37. 37. Conclusion • Technology very much has the potential to change us as cognitive beings, affecting our capacities for perception, action, problem solving, reasoning, etc. i.e. all of cognition. • As such, they are anything but neutral, and we’ll have to be cautious in how we proceed with the development of these technologies.
  38. 38. Thank you! “With great power comes great responsibility” Voltaire, French Philosopher
  39. 39. Back to Drones: Confessions of a Drone Warrior Drone operator Brandon Bryant Was part of drone missions that killed 1626 people Suffers from PTSD November 2013 Issue of GQ
  40. 40. PTSD for Drone Operators? “There was no significant difference in the rates of MH diagnoses, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depressive disorders, and anxiety disorders between RPA and MA pilots.” - Pentagon Study
  41. 41. Why do Drone Operators get PTSD? • To some extent, their brain says: “I’m there” • Old theory: PTSD is caused by fear • Do drone operators fear for their lives the way soldiers do that are actually in the battle zone feel fear? Does the virtual presence become that real? Unlikely. • So, new theory: PTSD is caused by moral anguish of killing people
  42. 42. Solution to PTSD?!? • [R]esearchers have proposed creating a Siri-like user interface, a virtual copilot that anthropomorphizes the drone and lets crews shunt off the blame for whatever happens. “Siri, have those people killed.”
  43. 43. Just Because We Will, Should We? • Variants: • Just because we do, should we?
  44. 44. Technology will Change and Destroy Humanity! • If technology becomes more and more integrated with our brains and with our being, basically making us into a race of cyborgs, then that means the end of humankind! • So no, even if we will, that doesn’t mean we should.
  45. 45. Problems • Ought-From-Is or Naturalistic Fallacy: Just because humans are a certain way, doesn’t mean that we should be or stay that way.
  46. 46. Technology is Simply Speeding Up Evolution! • If technology is really going to change humanity and make us into a race of cyborgs, well, that’s just the next step of evolution: Homo Sapiens 2.0! • So yes, we will, and we should!
  47. 47. Problems • Naturalistic Fallacy again: just because evolution happens doesn’t mean it is good. • Only shows 1 line of evolution … but evolution is a tree! • Suggest evolution = progress. In particular: ‘smarter’ is better … but ‘tree’ of evolution suggests quite a different picture. Also, ‘progress’ is only increased ‘fitness’ to local environment … this is far cry from ‘fitness’ in any kind of absolute sense, let alone that this would be ‘better’ in any kind of moral sense.