Degenerative Techo-Cognitive Niches. Unforeseen Dangers of the Hyper-Technological Paradigm

Tommaso BertolottiUniversity of Pavia, Italy
Lorenzo MagnaniUniversity of Pavia, Italy

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to connect studies in cognitive niches with the diffusion of high-technologies, cyborgs and robots, so to obtain a new framework for analyzing some dilemmas of future technological developments. Digital technologies dramatically boosted the niche constructing dynamics by allowing the construction of new informational environments and by the introduction of synthetic-minds that are able to carry on niche construction and maintenance activities side-to-side with human beings. Cognitive niches, structured to ease the environmental selective pressure, may progressively degenerate causing an increase in selective pressure and hence a reduction in welfare for the individuals: yet, when the failure is caused exactly by what was meant to benefit the population, and when the reversal of niche is (or seems to be) unfeasible, it is possible to individuate a “degenerative niche.

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