A Brazilian Perspective on Mindsets, Digital Practices and Tools for Social Action In and Out of School
Edited By Eduardo S. Junqueira and Marcelo E.K. Buzato
Chapter 4. Distributed Agency in Avatar-based Learning Vilson J. Leffa 69
Distributed agency between humans and nonhumans is a concept that has been around for some time and has been approached from different perspectives, including artificial intelligence (Rammert, 2008), business administration (Whittle, Suhomlinova, & Mueller, 2010), literary criticism (Taylor, 2009), edu- cation (Facer & Sandford, 2010), and sociology (Taylor, 2001). One of its assumptions, of special interest in this chapter, is that human autonomy is a myth (Rammert, 2012), meaning, in this case, that we, as human beings, can- not act without assistance from the artificial artifacts around us. The idea that we depend on what is available in our environment to achieve our goals is cer- tainly not new and can be traced back to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, as well as being an important concept in more recent theories of moral and intellec- tual development, including, for example, the influential ideas of Piaget (Kohlberg, 1981) and Vygotsky (Cole & Engeström, 1993). There is no disagree- ment between these more traditional theories and distributed agency concepts, as long as the artifacts are treated as tools, in what may be described as agent- artifact interaction (Harris, 2012). The issue arises when these artifacts are treated as agents in their own right, from a functional parity perspective (Harris, 2012), producing what could then be described as agent-agent interaction, as implied in a stronger version of the distributed agency perspective. This is the · 4 · Distributed Agency in Avatar-based Learning VILSON J. LEFFA Junqueira_t3 contrib 9/9/2013 8:49 AM Page 69 point where dissenting voices are...
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