Topic 2 Posts

Essays

Thoughts, musings, and excerpts from essays and articles.

One must qualify that much of what is today called "artificial intelligence" is little more than traditional regression analysis, the basic technique taught in introductory statistics courses, but on an unprecedented scale and presence in daily life. None of this technology approaches the conscious, adaptive, reflective capacities often associated with the term, the kind we would find in 2001: A Space Odyssey's HAL 9000 or Star Trek's Mr. Data. The labeling of these techniques as "artificial intelligence" arises in part from the ideological aspirations of Silicon Valley and in part from its overhyped marketing, and so ought to be resisted. But for the sake of critique we will adopt it here.

Jon Askonas, "How Tech Utopia Fostered Tyranny"

I would suggest that what is profoundly wrong at the moment with Western democracies is that the art of politics has been replaced by the technique of politics. For some time now, democratic struggles between divergent points of view in the national and international areas has been replaced by a coalescence around an agreed-upon set of ideas. Politics becomes a wrangling about implementation rather than a competition among fundamentally different ideas. We are now asked to vote for the best managerial team to achieve a set of goals that, with minor variations, both political sides are pretty much agreed on. Both in the EU and in the UK, there is a dearth of new ideas and a complete lack of political creativity. By default, the population was asked to decide on the future, but the vote and the debate that surrounded the referendum have still left much in the dark. The public has had its say and now, more than ever, we are in need of political artistry to find a way forward.

Mihail Evans, "Brexit: Why Referenda are not the Ultimate Democratic Tests"