Free Daily Reads 2022: Article 64

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Article Title: Are ‘you’ just inside your skin or is your smartphone part of you?


Article Summary

This article deals with the author’s opinion on whether our devices deserve the same protections as our brains and bodies.

The author starts with briefing us about a horrific open gunfire incident. He further briefs us about our right to privacy and to remain silent but questions whether our devices require the same protection or not.

He emphasises that no other piece of hardware in history, not even our brain contains the quality or quantity of information held on our phone. He further briefs us about a US court verdict as to how police must obtain a warrant before rummaging through one’s smartphones. These have become a feature of our anatomy. The author then uses the work of philosophers ( The extended mind Theory ) to prove his point. They believe that Objects such as smartphones or notepads are often just as functionally essential to our cognition as the synapses firing in our heads. They augment and extend our minds by increasing our cognitive power and freeing up internal resources.

The author further briefs us about the works of different philosophers and how the times are changing now regarding the meaning of freedom of speech. They are trying to come to grips with how technology is changing what it means to be human and to devise new normative boundaries to cope with this reality. If our minds now encompass our phones, we are essentially cyborgs: part-biology, part-technology. So if the law aims to protect mental privacy, its boundaries would need to be pushed outwards to give our cyborg anatomy the same protections as our brains. Then he further discusses the various reasonings of this conclusion.So now in areas where the law protects the means of thought, it might also need to guarantee access to tools such as smartphones in the same way that freedom of expression protects people’s right not only to write or speak but also to use computers and disseminate speech over the internet. The author concludes that the concept of personal rights and freedoms that guides our legal institutions is outdated and if the extended mind theory is right, then even simple technologies such as pen and paper would merit recognition and protection as a part of the essential toolkit of the mind.

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Words to Learn from this article:

Epilogue: a section or speech at the end of a book or play that serves as a comment on or a conclusion to what has happened

Cognitive: the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses

Proverbial: well known, especially so as to be stereotypical

Computation: the use of computers, especially as a subject of research or study

Trauma: a deeply distressing or disturbing experience

Nudge: prod (someone) gently with one’s elbow in order to attract attention


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