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Book Chapter

Brain-to-brain interfaces and the role of language in distributing agency

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Dingemanse,  Mark
Language and Cognition Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Dingemanse, M. (2017). Brain-to-brain interfaces and the role of language in distributing agency. In N. J. Enfield, & P. Kockelman (Eds.), Distributed Agency (pp. 59-66). Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190457204.003.0007.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0029-2F88-2
Abstract
Brain-to-brain interfaces, in which brains are physically connected without the intervention of language, promise new ways of collaboration and communication between humans. I examine the narrow view of language implicit in current conceptions of brain-to-brain interfaces and put forward a constructive alternative, stressing the role of language in organising 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