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Lunch Lecture - Laura Candiotto (Philosophy)

Dr. Laura Candiotto
University of Pardubice

The affective dimension of trust: Why emotions make us trust an AI
When Feb 10, 2022
from 01:00 PM to 02:00 PM
Where Zoom-Meeting
Contact Name
Attendees Universitätsoffen / open to university members
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The affective dimension of trust: Why emotions make us trust an AI

After the publication of the now-classic "extended mind" paper by Andy Clark and David Chalmers (Clark & Chalmers 1998), a profuse debate on the conditions that should be met for granting the extension of the mind in the world has taken place at the crossroads of philosophy of mind, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence. Notably, Clark (2010) has claimed that some “glue and trust” criteria allow us to differentiate between genuine extended cognition and the mere instrumental employment of a technological tool. These are constancy in use, direct availability, automatic endorsement, and consciously past endorsement. Unfortunately, the affective dimension of trust has been rarely studied in this regard. In this talk, I will argue that trust has a crucial affective component. We cannot have a phenomenologically accurate description of what trusting an AI means without considering it. But I will also advance a stronger hypothesis, namely that without affective trust, cognitive integration is not attainable most of the time. So, if my hypothesis is correct, affective trust is a necessary condition of extended cognition.

I will take assistive technology (AT) as a case study. Many people with disabilities rely on assistive technology to achieve cognitive tasks, from basic ones such as hearing the social network newsfeed read aloud by the smartwatch to highly cognitive and complex ones as the orientation in a new neighborhood with the help of the GPS assistant. Arguably, people with disabilities not only employ the tools but the tools are integrated into their cognitive system so that assistive technology is a case of extended cognition (Pritchard et al 2021). In focusing on the how of the integration, I will present an analysis that gives voice to the agent’s existential needs, especially in terms of their affective dimension. I take affectivity as a social affair strictly related to the feeling of agency in learning how to use AT. I claim that affectivity is regulated by habits (Candiotto & Dreon 2021) and that this is a crucial factor for understanding why affective trust is a condition for extended cognition. Trust is, in fact, dependent upon the consciously past endorsement of AT. This means that a subject can automatically rely on a tool that has been consciously endorsed in the past because it has proved to be effective. But this efficacy is felt as an answer to existential needs. AT does not simply augment skills, but it is something without which a person with disabilities cannot fulfil her needs and have a good life. It follows that trusting AT is not a “neutral” activity. Still, it is an existentially charged activity that replies to the existential necessity of having a reliable tool to fulfill one’s needs. This is the case in which the device fulfils some essential tasks that one cannot perform otherwise, such as the employment of a braille pad by a blind person for reading a book or of a spelling software by people with dyslexia for writing.

The final upshot is that affective trust, understood as an affective habit, enables the subject to carve out new relationships with the environment through the employment of AT. In tailoring a new affective-cum-cognitive niche through trustful engagement with technological devices, agents can extend their action possibilities and thus increase their feeling of agency in the world.


The event takes place via Zoom. All current information about the event series and participation will be posted at 


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