The Smartphone as Part of Your Mind

Karina Vold over at the Sigularity Hub has a thought provoking article
on the extent to which your smartphone is part of your mind. At first,
it seems like a silly idea except in a trivial sense. But as Vold

No other piece of hardware in history, not even your brain, contains
the quality or quantity of information held on your phone: it ‘knows’
whom you speak to, when you speak to them, what you said, where you
have been, your purchases, photos, biometric data, even your notes to
yourself—and all this dating back years.

This idea is not new and is not being pushed just by techies. In 1998,
the philosophers Andy Clark and David Chalmers published a paper, The
Extended Mind
, the explored the idea.

These days, the issue comes up mostly in law enforcement settings in
which questions of privacy are raised regarding gaining access to a
suspect’s smartphone. The courts, oddly, have taken the lead in
examining the issues. Several rulings, some even from the U.S. Supreme
Court, have acknowledged that smartphones have a unique relation to
our minds in a way that, say, paper records don’t.

Those that are looking at the idea seriously raise a number of
interesting questions such as should our phones be treated as part of
our remains when we die? Or, if our phones are really an extension of
our minds, should destroying or wiping them be considered a form of
assault the way injuring someone with a blow to the head is?

Be sure to take a look at Vold’s article. It’s full of interesting
ideas, especially for those of us trying to live digital lives.

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