Performance

William A. Wallace, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The purpose of this paper is to provide a rationale for a new program whose purpose would be the integration of the science of cognition with technology to improve the performance of humans. We consider cognition to be "thinking" by individuals and, through consideration of emergent properties, "thinking" by groups, organizations, and societies. Technology is all the means employed by a social group to support its activities, in our case, to improving human performance. Engineering is the creation of artifacts such as technologies. Therefore, research concerned with engineering the science of cognition to improve human performance means research on the planning, design, construction, and implementation of technologies.

The purpose of such research should be to enhance performance, i.e., goal-directed behavior in a task environment, across all four levels of cognition: individual, group, organization, and society. In order to do so, we must consider the effective integration of cognition and technology as follows:

• integration of technology into the human central nervous system

• integration of important features of human cognition into machines

• integration of technologies (cognitive prosthetics) into the task environment to enhance human performance.

We see a synergistic combination of convergent technologies as starting with cognitive science (including cognitive neuroscience) since we need to understand the how, why, where, and when of thinking at all four levels in order to plan and design technology. Then we can employ nanoscience and nanotechnology to build the technology, and biotechnology and biomedicine to implement it. Finally, we can employ information technology to monitor and control the technology, making it work.

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