Reflections on the Revolution in France... a book written by a rich Englishman of leisure, critiquing the working-class French Revolution from the other side of the pond... Revealing, (although perhaps more revealing of Burke himself than the author may have intended) as much for what it gets wrong about the French revolution itself (Burke was … Continue reading Reflections on the Revolution in France
Shirley Jackson's collection of dystopian short-form fiction The Lottery (and other stories) is a stark reminder of the fragility, banality and horror of the un-scrutinised human condition. It's all too easy to slip into group-think that priorities the "greater good" over the individual life. And once we have accepted that, it is a slippery slope to treating people … Continue reading The Lottery
"They have a phenomenal memory. If you were to read them a twenty-volume encyclopaedia they could repeat the contents in order, but they never think up anything original. They'd make fine university professors." ~ R.U.R The defining text for robots, Rossum's Universal Robots is a facial science fiction play written in the 1920's as … Continue reading Rossum’s Universal Robots
I don't know about you, but I cannot live without a few secrets. Without secrets, without a private inner life, we lose our individuality and our sense of self. Today though, we are bombarded with messages telling us that privacy is worth sacrificing for the greater good; for the good of community security, for the … Continue reading Secrets and Lies
The below is a transcript of my recent Pecha Kucha (20 slides, 20 seconds each) talk on "Social Cooling" - a disturbing phenomenon I think everyone should be aware of. Personal data is said to be the new oil…not just because of the industry’s value, but because of its power. And, like big oil is blamed … Continue reading Social Cooling
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.” ~ George R.R. Martin As we move from the text and screen web to the voice and spacial web (and possibly even into the age of a fully connected human Brainternet), we move one step closer to … Continue reading Are we nearing the end of the age of literacy?
Can robots have rights? Should robots have rights? These deceptively big questions regarding "roborights" are shaping up to be among the Big Issues debated by law makers, scientists, engineers, and philosophers in 2019 - and far into the future. I read David J. Gunkel's Robot Rights to get a handle on where academia is "at" … Continue reading Robot Rights
The first of Yuval Noah Harari's two best-selling books on the evolution of human society Sapiens, just like the book that follows it, Homo Deus (review coming soon), is a must-read for anyone interested in history or futurism. Sapiens tackles the same issues covered by Jared Diamond's (excellent) Guns, Germs and Steel, and Niall Ferguson's … Continue reading Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind