The findings come from a deceptively simple study of people using a computer mouse rigged to malfunction. The resulting disruption in attention wasn’t superficial. It seemingly extended to the very roots of cognition.
“The person and the various parts of their brain and the mouse and the monitor are so tightly intertwined that they’re just one thing,” said Anthony Chemero, a cognitive scientist at Franklin & Marshall College. “The tool isn’t separate from you. It’s part of you.”
Chemero’s experiment, published March 9 in Public Library of Science, was designed to test one of Heidegger’s fundamental concepts: that people don’t notice familiar, functional tools, but instead “see through” them to a task at hand, for precisely the same reasons that one doesn’t think of one’s fingers while tying shoelaces. The tools are us.
This idea, called “ready-to-hand,” has influenced artificial intelligence and cognitive science research, but without being directly tested.
(via Cole Tucker)