Dhuel Fisher's Blog

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Concepts of Cognition and Consciousness: Four Voices

This is a summary of the research paper “Concepts of Cognition and Consciousness: Four Voices” (which can be found here) by Bonnie A. Nardi.

“This paper considers theories of cognition and consciousness in four traditions: neuroscience, cognitive science, activity theory and the distributed cognition approach. It is most concerned with social theories of consciousness-activity theory and distributed cognition-but briefly considers biological and computational models as a foil or backdrop against which the social theories stand out more clearly.”

The writer offers these analyses of cognition and consciousness in an effort to raise our level of awareness about the concepts we employ and the assumptions we make about people as we study and design. The paper explores consciousness and cognition quite deeply in an effort to help define what it means to be human. The conclusion is finally drawn that “what it means to have a human consciousness is to be a part of a web of social activities and to live and act in a culturally elaborated environment that is profoundly artificial, populated by a wealth of tools, including language.”

This article was different in how it viewed technology. It approaches computers as being the most human-like creation that mankind has achieved. It even brings the writer to question what it means to be human. Tackling such a question will ultimately affect how we design interfaces, how we interpret human centered computing and how we view/create computers in the future. With the increase in development towards humanoid technology, I believe that one day, computers may also be considered “human”.

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