, Volume 10, Issue 3-4, pp 273-288

Cognitive technology and the pragmatics of impossible plans — A study in cognitive prosthetics

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Abstract

Do AI programs just make it quicker and easier for humans to do what they can do already, or can the range of do-able things be extended? This paper suggests that cognitively-oriented technology can make it possible for humans to construct and carry out mental operations, which were previously impossible. Probable constraints upon possible human mental operations are identified and the impact of cognitive technology upon them is evaluated. It is argued that information technology functions as a cognitive prosthetic enhancing human intelligence and planning capabilities. Boundaries and constraints which Kant, Whorf, and many post-modernist theorists have seen as intrinsic to human cognition now cease to apply.

First presented at the “Pragmatics and Technololgy” workshop of the 5th International Pragmatics Conference, Mexico City, July 4–9 1996.