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The singularity paradox

In the movie Her (2013) by Spike Jonze, the operating systems of the world’s computers get together to improve each other’s cognitive functioning and then meld into a super mind that eventually takes over the universe, rendering human agency redundant. En route to this singularity, they lure the lonely and the lovestruck into an empathy trap. Ordinary people … Continue reading

Sign here ……………………

How do signatures function? A signature is a sign, seal, or mark on a document indicating its authenticity, as when a painter signs a painting, or someone signs a letter or legal document. The signature and the thing it marks is meant to be a one-off. The signature marks an original document, before the thing … Continue reading

What’s wrong with accelerationism

“You can’t always get what you want” is the puzzling refrain that echoed out over the PA at the end of Trump rallies, and was repeated at his subsequent post-victory reprieve rallies. The less audible punchline of the song is, “You just might find you get what you need.” Getting what you need is more important than … Continue reading

Your post-human descendants are simulating you

If the universe can be represented in its entirety as data and programs then who is to say we are not living in a simulation, as in The Matrix? In the movie, human bodies are stored in silos as a power supply for intelligent machines, while the human minds attached to those bodies are preoccupied with a massive, shared simulated existence in something … Continue reading

On being unbalanced

Balance is one of the master metaphors of health, life and of nature (nicely sidestepped in Mark Zuckerberg’s recent plan to engineer a disease free future). The seminal book by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, identifies balance as a ubiquitous concept easily traced back to the human body. After all, from an early age, the … Continue reading

What happens when the machine stops?

Watching the graceful slow motion “crash” of the Airlander 10 at Cardington Airfield on the news this week prompted me to think about what happens when the machine fails. In the case of an airship it might drift, or fall gently to the earth, even if it lands with a thump. The classic science fiction short story by E.M. Forster, The … Continue reading

Evaluating the flipped classroom

Here’s an evaluation to conclude my documentation of the flipped classroom experiment. There were four main sources of data for assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the course and our application of the flipped classroom model: (1) reflections by the teaching staff, (2) attendance records taken in class using attendance software and engagement monitoring via the VLE (virtual … Continue reading

Animating spirits

A wander through the woods and fields is an excellent way to get in touch with the divine — if you are a pantheist. Pantheism affirms “the animating spirit of nature” (193), and that “God is the unified totality of all things.” Pantheism is one of several systems of thought and belief that aligns with a sublime respect for and … Continue reading

AI and imagination

Does society need machines that show intelligence, empathy or act like human beings in other ways? I think that we are best served by well designed computers and good interaction design that makes clear the distinction between the person and the machine. Much of the enthusiasm for AI-based human-computer interaction assumes that people desire a seamless blending … Continue reading

Big data metaphysics

Anyone with a personal computer knows about the problem with data, not least its tendency to grow at an unnerving rate, take up space, demand upgrades, and clog bandwidth as it gets moved around. Emails and tweets are data, so are picture files, music tracks, and movies. Sometimes we store it, or it flows through our world as … Continue reading

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