Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Appears in Collections:Law and Philosophy Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: The Reappearing Tool: Transparency, Smart Technology, and the Extended Mind
Author(s): Wheeler, Michael
Keywords: artificial intelligence
extended cognition
user interface design
skilled tool use
phenomenological transparency
Issue Date: Dec-2019
Date Deposited: 10-Nov-2017
Citation: Wheeler M (2019) The Reappearing Tool: Transparency, Smart Technology, and the Extended Mind. AI and Society, 34 (4), pp. 857-866.
Abstract: Some thinkers have claimed that expert performance with technology is characterized by a kind of disappearance of that technology from conscious experience, that is, by the transparency of the tools and equipment through which we sense and manipulate the world. This is a claim that may be traced to phenomenological philosophers such as Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, but it has been influential in user interface design where the transparency of technology has often been adopted as a mark of good design. Moreover, in the philosophy of cognitive science, such transparency has been advanced as necessary for extended cognition (the situation in which the technology with which we couple genuinely counts as a constitutive part of our cognitive machinery, along with our brains). By reflecting on concrete examples of our contemporary engagement with technology, I shall argue that the epistemic challenges posed by smart artefacts (those that come equipped with artificial-intelligencebased applications) should prompt a reassessment of the drive for transparency in the design of some cases of technology-involving cognition. This has consequences for the place of extended minds in the contemporary technological context.
DOI Link: 10.1007/s00146-018-0824-x
Rights: © The Author(s) 2018 This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Licence URL(s):

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Wheeler2019_Article_TheReappearingToolTransparency.pdfFulltext - Published Version861.44 kBAdobe PDFView/Open

This item is protected by original copyright

A file in this item is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons

Items in the Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

The metadata of the records in the Repository are available under the CC0 public domain dedication: No Rights Reserved

If you believe that any material held in STORRE infringes copyright, please contact providing details and we will remove the Work from public display in STORRE and investigate your claim.