Minds in the Metaverse: Extended Cognition Meets Mixed Reality

Philosophy and Technology 35 (4):1–29 (2022)
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Examples of extended cognition typically involve the use of technologically low-grade bio-external resources (e.g., the use of pen and paper to solve long multiplication problems). The present paper describes a putative case of extended cognizing based around a technologically advanced mixed reality device, namely, the Microsoft HoloLens. The case is evaluated from the standpoint of a mechanistic perspective. In particular, it is suggested that a combination of organismic (e.g., the human individual) and extra-organismic (e.g., the HoloLens) resources form part of a common mechanism that realizes a bona fide cognitive routine. In addition to demonstrating how the theoretical resources of neo-mechanical philosophy might be used to evaluate extended cognitive systems, the present paper illustrates one of the ways in which mixed reality devices, virtual objects (i.e., holograms), and online (Internet-accessible) computational routines might be incorporated into human cognitive processes. This, it is suggested, speaks to the recent interest in mixed/virtual reality technologies across a number of disciplines. It also introduces us to issues that cross-cut disparate fields of philosophical research, such as the philosophy of science and the philosophy of technology.

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Paul Smart
University of Southampton


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