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Distributed Agency$
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N. J. Enfield and Paul Kockelman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190457204

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190457204.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 02 December 2021

Brain-to-Brain Interfaces and the Role of Language in Distributing Agency

Brain-to-Brain Interfaces and the Role of Language in Distributing Agency

(p.59) Chapter 7 Brain-to-Brain Interfaces and the Role of Language in Distributing Agency
Distributed Agency

Mark Dingemanse

Oxford University Press

Brain-to-brain interfaces, in which brains are physically connected without the intervention of language, promise new ways of collaboration and communication between humans. This chapter examines the narrow view of language implicit in current conceptions of brain-to-brain interfaces and puts forward a constructive alternative, stressing the role of language in organizing joint agency. Two features of language stand out as crucial: its selectivity, which provides people with much-needed filters between public words and private worlds; and its negotiability, which provides people with systematic opportunities for calibrating understanding and expressing consent and dissent. Without these checks and balances, brain-to-brain interfaces run the risk of reducing people to the level of amoeba in a slime mold; with them, they may mature to become useful extensions of human agency.

Keywords:   brain-to-brain interfaces, agency, joint agency, social interaction, language, ethics, technology

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