Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Listen first, write later

There's a nice profile of Jaron Lanier in the current New Yorker by Jennifer Kahn. It's locked to non-subscribers, but still on the newsstands. In it he's very wise, in the way (as we learned last year in the "Future of Life" course*) of You Are Not a Gadget, on the importance of actually existing and creating as a human being in your own right and not being content merely to reflect passing currents  in the enveloping cyber-sea around you. Re-tweeters, attend:
If you listen first, and write later, then whatever you write will have had time to filter through your brain, and you'll be in what you say. This is what makes you exist. If you are only a reflector of information, are you really there?
(*NOTE TO SELF, on a possible future course. "Philosophy and the Internet: Staying Human in the Information Age")

In the Chronicle of Higher Education awhile back Lanier commented on techno-Utopia and New Atheism, shaking his head at
a new sort of "nerd" religion based around a core belief that a global brain is not only emerging but will replace humanity. It is often claimed, in the vicinity of institutions like Silicon Valley's Singularity University, that the giant global computer will upload the contents of human brains to grant them everlasting life in the computing cloud.
There is right now a lot of talk about whether to believe in God or not, but I suspect that religious arguments are gradually incorporating coded debates about whether to even believe in people anymore.
That's always the most important question. He still believes. Of course he does. Look again at that little girl.

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