The Corner

Re: The Human Genome and the Human Being

Adam’s intelligent post about the difficulty of looking other than at science to discover what makes us beings so messily human finds an interesting restatement in “The First Church of Robotics,” today’s NYT op-ed by Jared Lanier, for whom the melding of man and machine does not guarantee a better variety of either or both. Discussing the now-current affection for the “Singularity” (to use Ray Kurzweil’s now-popular term for an IT Rapture, in which we all will be digitized and made immortal as algorithms), Lanier points out:

All thoughts about consciousness, souls and the like are bound up equally in faith, which suggests something remarkable: What we are seeing is a new religion, expressed through an engineering culture.

Everybody believes in something, even if something is nothing. But God with a pocket protector is harder to imagine than the old guy with the beard, at least for me.

In the Fortnightly Review today, the Hannah Arendt Center’s Roger Berkowitz reviews Lanier’s book, alongside those by Kurzweil and Sherry Turkel.

Denis Boyles — Dennis Boyles is a writer, editor, former university lecturer, and the author/editor of several books of poetry, travel, history, criticism, and practical advice, including Superior, Nebraska (2008), Design Poetics (1975), ...

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