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“Decision Science in the age of augmented cognition”

Friday, March 24, 2023
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Daniel Oppenheimer, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University
P&N Colluquium Series

While most psychologists focus on thinking that occurs in the brain, most would also acknowledge that cognition is not exclusively accomplished by the brain, but by an interaction between brains, tools, and environments. According to the "extended mind" perspective, cognitive processes are often offloaded to various technologies, freeing our limited cognitive resources for more complex thought. Extending cognition to our environment is not new, however with recent advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning, cognition enhancing devices are being developed at unprecedented rates. Using augmenting technologies does not merely improve our thinking, but in many ways can qualitatively change the nature of how we think. Different media lead us to ask different questions, remember (or forget) different information, attend to different details, and interact with other people in different ways.

These types of thinking aren't inherently better or worse, but they may be better or worse for facilitating specific goals, change our decisions, and impact the effectiveness of policy interventions. In this talk, I will discuss why it is important for decision scientists to extend our frameworks to account for extended cognition, and highlight some recent research from my own lab that explores how the use of technology can impactfully affect how we think and behave.

Bio: Danny Oppenheimer is a professor at Carnegie Mellon jointly appointed in Psychology and Decision Sciences who studies judgment, decision making, metacognition, learning and causal reasoning, and applies his findings to a diverse array of domains, such as charitable giving, consumer behavior, education, electoral outcomes, and how to trick students into buying him ice cream. He is the author of over 50 peer-reviewed articles and books including "Democracy Despite Itself: Why a System that shouldn't work at all works so well" and "Psychology: The Comic Book Introduction". He has won awards for research, teaching, and humor, the latter of which is particularly inexplicable given his penchant for truly terrible puns.