Andy Clark’s theory of ‘The Extended Mind\”: Exploring the Boundaries and the Mind

Andy Clark
Where does the mind stop and the world start? Does the mind expand outside of its skull and merge with other minds and things? What if objects such as a pen, paper or phone could perform the same functions of brain parts, like calculating and remembering?

The famous paper by Andy Clark and David J. Chalmers in 1998, \”The Extended Mind,\” posed these questions and responded provocatively that cognitive processes are not all in the brain. The environment plays an active role in cognition, which is often made up of bodily, neural, and environmental processes.

Professor Clark has come a long way since he began his career in cognitive science back in the early 1990s. \”I was very much on the machine-functionalism side back in those days,\” he says. I thought mind and intelligence were high-level abstract achievements, where the right low level structures didn’t matter.

Clark’s journey from A.I. Clark’s journey from symbolic A.I. to connectionism and then to embodied cognitive processing and predictive processing took him further away from the idea that cognition is a disembodied, abstract language. Instead, he began to see cognition as being fundamentally shaped and influenced by its particular animal body with its arms, legs, and neuronal cortex. He was now ready to ask himself: If cognition is a deeply animal affair, how far can artificial intelligence progress?

Clark was aware that Rodney Brooks, a roboticist, had begun to doubt a fundamental assumption of A.I. The project is based on the idea that machines can be used to build minds. Brooks speculated on the reason A.I. Systems and robots that appeared to reach a limit at a certain complexity level were made of the wrong material.

Clark was unsure of his thoughts on this. Clark was no longer an exact machine functionalist: he did not believe that the mind could be run by hardware of all kinds. He didn’t think, nor did he want to believe that a brain could only be made of soft tissue. He couldn’t give up the extended-mind idea, the future of brain-machine combos, or the cyborg glory. The brain’s structure was similar to what attracted him in the beginning: It wasn’t one thing, but millions of things that worked together seamlessly while each of them had their own existence.

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