Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Chatbots and the Re-Ordering of the Polis

This past weekend, at the Society for Existentialism and Phenomenology conference, I heard a really fascinating panel dedicated to "The Promises of Polytheism" and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. Now, as a rule, I'm not all that interested in theism(s) of the sort that most people would recognize, but I am very interested in the contemporary order of thinking, evaluating, and making where most of today's quasi-gods are manufactured and where those contested deities reside-- namely, technology.  So, fair warning, what follows is at best only tangentially related to the actual substance of the panelists' papers.

The three panelists-- Ammon Allred (University of Toledo), Michael Norton (University of Arkansas-Little Rock), and Adriel Trott (Wabash College)--  had each taken Jan Asman's 2003 text The Price of Monotheism as a common point of departure for thinking about aesthetics (Allred), the intellectual and discursive "ecology" of religions and the sciences (Norton), and politics (Trott). They were all fantastic papers-- I recommend you contact the authors and ask for copies!-- but Trott's, in particular, really generated a lot of interesting questions for me relative to my own current research (in future technologies, artificial intelligence, big data, social media, and their sociopolitical effects on "human" life and thinking).