Cognitive Technology: a beginning and a question

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What is Cognitive Technology?
The current stated goal of the Cognitive Technology group is to “create tools to understand, extend, and improve human cognition.” This statement is quite broad (intentionally so). This post will discuss what this means so far, and how we can further refine the target.

The word “cognitive” represents an interest in a range of technologies, from low-level monitoring and stimulation of neural circuits, to higher-level interfaces such as virtual reality. As the technology becomes more powerful, I anticipate these levels will become more connected to each other, and I want to start a design conversation about how to pursue that in safe and extremely positive ways.

Cognitive Technology could be described as an extension of Cognitive Science. It asks a question: “How can we apply the knowledge from cognitive science to create tools that help improve mental ability?” Many people are working on different parts of this question, but we aim to intentionally pursue interdisciplinary research and development.

Understand, Extend, and Improve
How does the brain work, and how can we improve it?

We can create tools to understand the brain. Brain technologies are like telescopes that give us a window into the brain. As we create better telescopes, we will get a clearer picture of how the brain produces thoughts and feelings. In turn, more understanding will give us more ideas of areas we could extend and improve the brain.

We can create tools to improve the brain – to become better at problem solving, more focused, aware of cognitive biases, empathetic, and creative. The knowledge gained in the cognitive sciences and neuroscience can be applied to intentionally improve the way our brains work.

We can create tools to extend the brain. Through informational tools, haptic devices, immersive environments, robotics, and other actuators, we can amplify the amount of information coming out of the brain and use it to increase our abilities.

What’s Next?
The above writing expresses my current view of an “applied” approach to brain technology. In the future, I hope to get more information, find critical flaws in the way I think about this, and adjust course many times. Please, make suggestions or point out holes in these viewpoints – your feedback is incredibly useful.

In the next post, I will discuss (and look for feedback on) a general approach for taking actions in a large possibility space. Then we can think about how to apply this approach to future group activities in brain technology.

– Stephen

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