Extended mind and the brain-computer interface. A pluralist approach to the human-computer integration

Federico Zilio


Abstract: This paper uses Extended Mind Theory (EMT) to explore Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs), demonstrating how this conceptual framework provides a wide-ranging interpretation of the potential integration of user and computer. After a preliminary analysis of first- and second-wave EMT arguments and other pragmatic criteria, I present BCI technology, addressing the issues that arise. Can BCIs extend our mental processes and to what degree? What EMT criteria should be applied to this technology? What is the role of the body in the process of integrating user and computer? What are current limits to complete cognitive and bodily extension by BCIs? In line with this discussion, I suggest a pluralist approach to BCIs, allowing for specific and appropriate application of the various models and paradigms. I also advocate greater focus on the integration of body and tool, primarily for clinical purposes, but also for applications that will meet daily needs in the future.

Keywords: Extended Mind; Brain-Computer Interface; Embodiment; Parity Principle; Cognitive Artefacts.


Mente estesa e brain-computer interface. Un approccio pluralista all’integrazione uomo-macchina

Riassunto: Il presente articolo fa uso della Extended Mind Theory (EMT) per indagare le Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs), dimostrando che questo framework concettuale offre un’interpretazione ad ampio raggio della potenziale integrazione tra utente e computer. Dopo un’analisi preliminare degli argomenti della EMT di prima e seconda generazione e altri criteri pragmatici, presenterò la tecnologia delle BCIs, affrontando alcune questioni a essa collegate. Le BCIs possono estendere i nostri processi mentali e fino a che punto? Quali criteri della EMT dovrebbero essere applicati a questa tecnologia? Qual è il ruolo del corpo nel processo di integrazione utente-computer? Quali sono gli attuali limiti per completare l’estensione cognitiva e corporea da parte delle BCIs? In linea con questa discussione, suggerirò un approccio pluralistico alle BCIs che permetta un’applicazione specifica e appropriata dei vari modelli e paradigmi. Sosterrò inoltre la necessità di una maggiore attenzione all’integrazione tra corpo e strumento, principalmente per scopi clinici ma anche per applicazioni future che soddisfino le esigenze quotidiane.

Parole chiave: Mente estesa; Brain-Computer Interface; Incorporamento; Principio di Parità; Artefatti cognitivi.

Parole chiave

Extended Mind; Brain-Computer Interface; Embodiment; Parity Principle; Cognitive artefacts

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4453/rifp.2020.0011

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