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Collective Consciousness and Its Discontents:

Institutional distributed cognition, racial policy, and public health in the United States

by Rodrick Wallace, PhD. and Mindy Thompson Fullilove, MD

This book expands a recent mathematical treatment of the Baars model of individual consciousness to an institutional venue in which multiple ‘Global Workspaces’ cooperate, communicate, and compete. The result is an expansion of Dretske’s necessary conditions communications theory approach to high level cognition, having potential applications ranging from the organizational ecology of the firm to the design and analysis of highly parallel or networked autonomic computing systems. The particular example explored in detail, the failure of AIDS control and treatment in the United States, generalizes distributed cognition approaches to medical error and applies them to larger scale patterns of failure in public health, affecting populations rather than individuals. The book is written as a series of nearly independent chapters, and can be read at markedly different mathematical levels.