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Cognitive Code. Post-Anthropocentric Intelligence and the Infrastructural Brain

As the second decade of the twenty-first century draws to a close, the cultural, social, and economical effects of contemporary artificial intelligence become ever more apparent. What had in the twentieth century been thought of as a question of mimicking human cognition and thought on the scale of computer chips and circuits, has gradually evolved into a comprehensive restructuring of the world through “smart” infrastructures of planetary scale. Artificial intelligence is no longer an imaginary but increasingly defines how we live, work, and think through its implementation in the fields of logistics, transportation, policing and insurance, among others. In Cognitive Code, Johannes Bruder argues that these seemingly incompatible scales of intelligence – the brain and the planet – are much more intimately linked through the emerging fields of neuroscience-inspired AI and computational cognitive neuroscience. Based on fieldwork in neuroscience laboratories and brain imaging centers, he unpacks the modelling practices of neuroscientists and brain imaging methodologists to show how contemporary research on the brain makes routine use of engineering epistemologies. The brain, formerly conceived as a conglomerate of regions with distinct functions, increasingly appears as a highly plastic, cognitive infrastructure that resembles what we know as “the Cloud.” By thinking through scales, Johannes Bruder untightens the link between AI and human intelligence and instead elaborates on the transformative effects of planetary thinking characteristic of engineering and computing, on understandings of human intelligence rooted in psychology and the social sciences.
Montréal, 2020