Katherine Hayles (Duke) will be presenting a lecture titled The Emergence of Nonconscious Cognition
2 March 2015, 18.00 for 18.15, ER140, Elvet Riverside 1
Traditionally, the human brain has been associated with consciousness and (since Freud) the unconscious. However, at a lower level of neuronal processing, cognitive tasks are carried out by what Antonio Damasio calls the “proto-self,” inaccessible to consciousness and completely nonconscious. This opens the door to re-think the relation between humans, animals, and technical devices in terms of the cognitive nonconscious. The program in Artificial Intelligence to create conscious computers has not succeeded and is, in my view, unlikely to succeed any time soon. Nevertheless, a wide range of autonomous and embedded computational devices and systems routinely carry out cognitively sophisticated tasks. Understanding these as nonconscious cognition enables us to trace the similarities and differences between the strategies employed by all the cognizers on the planet: humans, animals, and technical devices. Moreover, it provides nuanced and sophisticated ways to consider emergent effects arising from their interactions.