The Banality at CannesRoger Berkowitz
Apparently Hannah Arendt was on everyone’s lips this year at the Cannes film festival. Alissa Wilkinson does a nice job of parsing the allusions to Arendt.
Citizens' Assemblies are coming to PortugalMauricio Mejia writes about Lisbon joining other cities around the world to revitalize democracy through citizen assemblies. Tomorrow (Monday, April 3rd) we will host a webinar and Q&A about our Fellowship for High School teachers to bring deliberative democracy into the classroom.
Can We Have Race Without Racism?
Subrena Smith and David Livingstone Smith have argued that while DEI programs are important and necessary, they are undone by a fundamental contradiction, the demand to end racism while elevating and preserving the importance of race. The problem, they see, is that race falls apart once it is divorced from its essentialist and biological understanding. For them, “Race was fashioned for nothing that was good,” and the effort to celebrate race is a dangerous game that undermines the laudable goals of DEI programs to vanquish racism.
When Power Triumphed Over IdealsRoger Berkowitz
On the 20th anniversary of America’s war in Iraq, there is a whole lot of taking stock. James Bennet argues that the War in Iraq helped undermine the American consensus at home and around the world. It is the cynicism that the Iraq war unleashed that opened the door for the rise of Donald Trump at home and other demagogues abroad.
ChatGPT – a catalyst for what kind of future?Roger Berkowitz
The Hannah Arendt Center will collaborate with the Vienna Digital Humanism Initiative on ChatGPT to convene the first Digital Humanism Leadership Summit on A.I. & Democratic Sustainability in Vienna (3-5 July 2023).
The Crack Where the Light Comes InRoger Berkowitz
Jaron Lanier is “the godfather of virtual reality.” Always one of the most original thinkers on technology, Lanier takes on the recent obsession about Chat GPT and other “large language models” by arguing, provocatively, that AI does not exist: .”My attitude is that there is no AI. What is called AI is a mystification, behind which there is the reality of a new kind of social collaboration facilitated by computers. A new way to mash up our writing and art.”
AI Devouring Human CultureRoger Berkowitz
Yuval Harari offers another, more dismal, take on the rise of AI. We need to learn to master AI before it masters us. Harari calls upon world leaders to rise to the challenge of AI: to master it and make it useful for us, while limiting its capabilities to destroy the humanity that gave it life. Harari sees the real danger from AI in its ability to consume our human culture.
The Conspiratorial MindDemocracy requires trust. Living together requires that we agree on some basic facts and beliefs about the world. For Arendt, the path to the common world is through politics, through talking with others. The institutions of politics—be they town halls, debating societies, congresses, or courts—are designed to bring a plurality of people together—each with their own ways of seeing the world—and encourage them to see something new that is common, that they share. But what about when the fundamental trust that allows such institutions to function fails? Phil Christman explores our snowballing sense that the “wrongness is pervasive.” At this moment of wrongness, we turn to conspiracy theories and paranoia that makes the exploration of a common world with others well nigh impossible. If you want to understand the conspiratorial mind of our moment, Christman is an able guide.
The Human Story
The Crisis of the humanities is one of those perennial crises that pops up every year, every decade, seemingly every century. In the last decade, there are now one-third as many as English majors as there were a decade ago and nearly 20% fewer students are taking humanities courses as were 10 years earlier. Nathan Heller sets out to ask why the humanities are in crisis.
Should I Stay or Should I GoRoger Berkowitz
I’ve been reading and teaching Hannah Arendt’s Jewish Writings in the Arendt Center’s Virtual Reading Group. Making my way through the 600 pages of Arendt’s writing about Jewishness, antisemitism, zionism, exile, and being a stateless refugee was a thrilling reminder of the profoundly personal experiences that informed so much of Arendt’s political and theoretical writing. Above all, it is a reminder how deeply Arendt felt the fact of her being a Jew and how central that sense of Jewishness was to her self-understanding. I was reminded of that sense while reading David Stromberg’s personal essay about his emigration to Israel and his present wrestling with the question of whether he should stay or go.