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Ghosting In The Shell

I devoted a small portion of a previous post on technology and human values a while back to the science fiction drama Ex_Machina. Here I want to explore a dramatically different dimension of Ex_Machina, less concerned with the film’s treatment of existential questions – robots and the end of humanity – and more on rather unsettling interpersonal...

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Ladders To The Moon

The fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban is beginning – or rather accelerating – a process of re-alignment. Some aspects of this are normal or even healthy; change should occur after a very public and humiliating disaster. Other parts are more dubious. This brings us to Thomas Bruscino and Mitchell G. Klingenberg’s recent call in City Journal to p...

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Unfamiliar Episodes

For many, September 11, 2001 was not just a terrible tragedy. It was also a moment of national rebirth. Suddenly joined together in spirit, the American people would put aside petty differences to pursue a grand crusade. Though this moment was squandered, some still long for it and wonder if it will ever return. For others, it was actually a pe...

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Vampire-Hunting As An Vocation

How do you solve an intellectual problem like vampire-hunting? The problem inherently combines three subproblems: Obtain and use knowledge about something poorly understood, difficult to investigate, and lacking in clear “lanes” of expertise. Responsibly control the study of something intrinsically dangerous and capable of harming investig...

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Hard Power And Late Trumpism

If you are watching the current chaos sparked by the January 6 attack on the capitol, you may be feeling – like many Americans and foreign friends of America – shocked and terrified. But the full implications of what has just occurred have yet to sink in. Perhaps because they, at heart, deal with brute issues of power and force that have largely...

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Save Room Loop Part I - Recovering Save Rooms

Early on in the pandemic, it became mandatory to wear a mask indoors outside of my apartment when walking through my apartment complex. Because COVID spreads more readily indoors, it is prudent to mask up even when merely walking through the hall. I also got used to habitually avoiding elevators and other confined spaces where I might encounter ...

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Three Cheers for Solutionism?

Economist Noah Smith is fed up with generic critiques of technological “solutionism,” specifically what he calls the “2010s consensus that technology is a sideshow compared to social movements.” In the last decade, we’ve basically been taught to deride “solutionism” — while Silicon Valley techbros were bending their genius toward figuring ou...

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Task Failed Successfully

The Trump years are ending – at least for now. Granted, its somewhat problematic here to even use the past tense. Trump is still President, and he may run again in 2024. Which makes the underlying problem of how to think about the question of “what was/is Trumpism” all the more important. I have talked about this puzzle in the past, and this pos...

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