Living Amidst the ShadowsRoger Berkowitz
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.
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).
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 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.”
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.
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.
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.
Equity Language GuidesGeorge Packer argues that the proliferation of “Equity Language Guides” is a misguided attempt at salvation, one with negative consequences. The guides are being issued by colleges, non-profits, and corporations. They are largely lists of banned words often with suggested replacements.
Academic Freedom in FloridaRoger Berkowitz
On the very same day that Florida Governor Ron Desantis was coming to speak at Palm Beach Atlantic University, the university put a beloved and experienced Professor’s teaching contract on hold because of complaints about his teaching about racial justice. The professor, Samuel Joeckel, has been teaching his racial-justice unit for twelve years without issue.
Le Wokism in FranceRoger Berkowitz
Thomas Chatterton Williams explores the strong French disdain for American woke ideology, and finds that both the American and the French approaches are lacking.