David Marchese interviews writer and veteran Phil Klay on the humanity and inhumanity of war. Klay finds the humanity of war in its moral complexity, the struggle to see and acknowledge the reality of morally complex thinking that goes beyond ideological and partisan positions.
My Bard Colleague Masha Gessen has won the Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thinking. Porter Anderson covers the announcement.
Milan Kundera died last week at the age of 94. His major novels include The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a thoughtful meditation on Nietzsche’s idea of the eternal return of the same. Robin Ashenden writes an intellectual obituary.
Does AI fundamentally support autocratic government? This is the question Martin Beraja, Andrew Kao, David Yang, and Noam Yuchtman ask in their paper AI-tocracy.
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.
Julian Lucas profiles Samuel Delany, one of the most vibrant and extraordinary writers of our era. I first encountered Delany’s Babel 17 in a college course. I was obsessed with the “Return to Nevèrÿon” series in graduate school, and his books Mad Man and Times Square Red, Times Square Blue provoked me in the most profound ways. I regularly recommend or gift his memoir The Motion of Light on Water. There are few personalities, writers, and intellectuals with the capacity to surprise and provoke that Delany possesses. His independence of mind and impartiality against the world are extraordinary, something that to my mind unites him with Hannah Arendt.
David French captures something essential about the endurance of the Trump MAGA movement. So many outside the movement see these MAGA voters as angry, enraged, violent, and racist. And one must admit that the movement is all of those things, at times. But what outsiders forget, or what they are unable or unwilling to see, is that the movement is not built on rage.
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.