My Bard Colleague Masha Gessen has won the Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thinking. Porter Anderson covers the announcement.
To think how to respond to the challenge AI poses to humanity, David Nirenberg turns back and asks how the pioneers of the nuclear bomb set about to think about the future of man. J. Robert Oppenheimer helped bequeath humanity not only the nuclear bomb, but also the means to think about how to live as human beings in the nuclear age. After his work on the bomb as the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory, Oppenheimer served 20 years as director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J.. home to some of the world’s leading scientists, including Albert Einstein.
I spent last week at the Digital Humanism Initiative Summit on Generative AI and Democratic Sustainability in Vienna. Over fifty scholars, computer scientists, regulators, and activists from more than 20 countries met for two full days to think together about the threat AI poses to democracy. Watch the recorded public presentation and read our provisional statement.
Babette Babich turns to Nietzsche to think about the question of why we are enthusiastic about AI. One reason, of course, is the belief that AI will "solve" our social problems. Diseases will be cured, welfare reorganized, poverty overcome. AI will solve the irresolvable social problems that we humans have not been able to. Of course, this belief in the power of AI to solve problems of human organization depends, first, on our willingness to outsource human challenges to inhuman logic, and, second, to our willingness to actually implement solutions to human problems that we humans can't understand.
Daniel Ellsberg died this week. A military analyst for the Rand Corporation, Ellsberg is best known for his act of principled courage in leaking the Pentagon Papers to the Press.
Why is the first-ever indictment of a former President being met with such equanimity from so many in the Republicans Party? Of course some like former governor Chris Christie have rightly condemned the President’s spoiled-child-I’m-above-the-law act and defended the prosecution. But the nihilistic wing of the Republican Party openly suggests that violence may be the appropriate response to Justice Department overreach. And even the usually more critical Wall St. Journal—which acknowledges that “Republicans deserve a more competent champion with better character than Mr. Trump”— headlines its lead editorial “A Destructive Trump Indictment”.
Suzy Hansen writes about the photographs and the journey of Turkish photographer Emin Özmen as he has documented Turkey’s descent from a democracy on the cusp of joining the European Union to an autocracy. Hansen collaborates with Özmen whose haunting photographs make palpable sense of powerlessness in Erdogan’s Turkey.