Modelling the Emergence and Evolution of Distributed Cognition

The project aims to develop an integrated theory of the emergence of distributed cognition. Distributed cognition is seen as the confluence of collective intelligence, and “situatedness” or the extension of cognitive processes into the physical environment. It concerns the information processing and learning that occurs on the social level, by the propagation of information from agent to agent across media. The theory we wish to develop would have a wide range of social and technological applications, including: better understanding of socio-economic development and diffusion of information, control of cognitive biases and social prejudices, knowledge management and organizational learning, and the development of an intelligent, “semantic” web. Our approach is based on five working hypotheses inspired by earlier research: 1) groups of agents self-organize to form a coordinated system, 2) the system co-opts external media for transmission of information, 3) the resulting distributed cognitive system can be modelled as a connectionist network, 4) information in the network is propagated selectively, 5) novel knowledge emerges through non-linear, distributed processes. These hypotheses will be elaborated and tested using a combination of theoretical modelling, computer simulation with multi-agent systems and recurrent connectionist networks, and empirical observation, both in controlled laboratory experiments with groups and open-ended observation of “real-world” processes.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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