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Postnatural Intelligence

Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus belongs to the literature of the uncanny. But the young Mary ­Shelley who wrote it—or rather, the teenaged Mary Godwin who sketched it in a summerhouse near Geneva—was nothing if not canny. Her 1818 debut novel was and still is hugely . . . . Continue Reading »

Letters

TeachersIn his “Re-Educate for America” (November), Malcolm Rivers identifies correctly the cultural hegemony that undergirds the educational establishment (and the leadership class) in America. A decade ago, as a New York City Teaching Fellow (a program in lockstep with Teach for America), I . . . . Continue Reading »

Humanity 4.5

For ancient philosophers, the dignity of contemplation lay in its fulfillment of our longing for truth. The architects of modern thought championed analysis for the sake of ever-greater power and security. The utopian island of Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis features a massive research facility for . . . . Continue Reading »

Letters

no disciplineI am writing to express my shock and disappointment at the profanity in the article “Freedom Within the Disciplines” (June/July). The word “bullshit” appears multiple times. I have encountered this word and its ilk in the New Yorker, Fast Company, and The Economist, but I . . . . Continue Reading »

​Even Materialists Crave Religion

Even materialists crave religion. The need to believe—to locate ultimate meaning in the universe—is deeply embedded in our natures. Atheists seek to deflect attention from this deeply human yearning. Thus, Richard Dawkins famously wrote that Darwin made it possible “to be an intellectually . . . . Continue Reading »

AI Machines: Things Not Persons

Transhumanists insist that we are quickly approaching [R1] the moment at which technology will become an unstoppable and self-directing power that will usher in the “post-human” era. To get us from here to there requires the invention of “artificial intelligence” (AI), computers and/or robots that become “conscious” and self-programming, independent of human control. Actually, these advocates would say “who” become conscious: Transhumanists believe that AI contraptions would become self-aware and thus deserve human rights. Continue Reading »

Toward Dystopia

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by nick bostrom oxford, 352 pages, $29.95 Since cofounding the World Transhumanist Association in 1998, the Swedish-born Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom has attempted to give a serious academic mien to the movement known as transhumanism. Transhumanists . . . . Continue Reading »

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