In Western tradition, thinking has been commonly seen as a very secluded activity. The processes of our minds are often thought to be very different from the processes within our bodies and the surrounding world. Even though the sharp mind-body dualism of Descartes is proven to be unsustainable with a high degree of agreement, a strong separation between the mind and the world is still actively present in our culture.
In more recent years, there have been many efforts to bridge the gaps between the mind and the body and world. Within new conceptual frameworks such as Embodied, Distributed or Extended Cognition, our mental processes are more integrated with our bodies and environment. Within these frameworks, the perception and motor functions of our bodies are seen as more than mere peripheral input and output devices for our brains. The world is not merely a background of intelligent behavior, but instead can form an active part of our cognitive processes.
By viewing the mind as a phenomenon that emerges within the active interactions between the brain, body and world, we can clearly see the huge influences of technological developments on our cognitive capabilities. Our smartphones give us transparent access to all the information of the world. Our brain signals can be measured to control robotic arms. Smart lifelogging systems can help us in remembering all the information that is important to us. Augmented Reality headsets allow us to augment our perceptions of the world with all sorts of extra information.
Questions, ideas and discussion
As our environment is becoming more and more saturated with technologies, many questions arise about the way we think. Can we know things that are (partly) stored outside our brains? What does it even mean to know something? Can thinking technologies help us to understand more complex problems? What does it mean when technology enters the brain? Can we decode our brain activity to such extent that we can actually read people’s thoughts? Does the use of technological aids affect what we should learn? How should this change be incorporated in our education system?
The Mind Extensions blog aims to create an environment where ideas around these matters are created, collected, exchanged and discussed. These ideas can come in many different shapes and sizes: from essays to interactive artworks and from poems to web lectures. We hope to build an active community with various people from different disciplines who read, write, share and discuss posts.
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