AAAI Publications, Workshops at the Thirtieth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence

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A Distributed Cognition Perspective on Symbiotic Cognitive Systems: External Representations as a Medium for Symbiosis
Thomas Erickson

Last modified: 2016-03-29


This paper offers a perspective on Symbiotic Cognitive Systems that draws on Distributed Cognition. It argues that representations are the medium of cognition, and that the external representations that are one of the foci of Distributed Cognition are critical to supporting symbiosis. The paper analyzes an instance of a symbiotic cognitive system in which hundreds of human participants – with the support of a digital system – collectively optimize a program. It discusses the roles external representations play in symbiosis, and suggest that the design of external representations that are accessible and legible to both human and digital agents is a critical part of symbiotic cognitive systems.


Augmentation; Symbiotic Systems; External Representations; Collective Intelligence

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