The Ethics of Extended Cognition: Is having your computer compromised a personal assault?

January 5, 2015 in Ethical Considerations, New Research, News, Uncategorized by Orestis Palermos

Adam Carter and Orestis Palermos recently gave a talk about the ethical and legal ramifications of extended cognition at the 2014 IT Futures Conference, University of Edinburgh.

Abstract: According to a recent and increasingly popular position in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science — namely, the hypothesis of extended cognition (e.g. Clark & Chalmers 1998; Clark 2008) — parts of the world that lie outside one’s organism (e.g., pen and paper, smartphones, tablets, PCs, etc.) can feature as proper parts of a person’s cognitive economy. Such a position has generated a lively debate about the bounds of cognition, the progress of which can have far-reaching implications for the future of cognitive science. One aspect of cognitive extension that has been largely overlooked, however, is the ethical ramifications of this hybrid picture of human cognition. Against this background, we shall draw attention to one very important such implication, which (as we shall argue) motivates a profound rethinking of what may count as personal assault. Specifically, could the hypothesis of extended cognition support the idea that having, in certain conditions, our personal gadgets compromised is actually a personal assault that is on a par with compromising a part of our biological cognitive systems?

Here is the talk: