14 Comments

Wow, this really landed with me today. Feel slightly obsessed with the sort of questions you are raised in this post, especially being both a huge Wendell Berry fan AND someone who doesn't want to dismiss new ways of being in the world and interacting with it.

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Jan 23·edited Jan 23Author

Thanks for reading Emily, and so great to heat it resonated. I'm somewhat obsessed with these ideas too and hope to write much more about all this. I've just been taking a look at your brilliant newsletter and see you're a poet. In a past life, quite a while ago now, I was a reviewer of fiction for newspapers. With this newsletter, I've sort of come the long way around to uniting my two great obsessions, which have always been writing and technology.

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Will look forward to hearing your take on it all over the course of the year. It's definitely become a focus for my next poems/songs, though I find it hard to sit with sometimes. It's quite overwhelming!

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Glad to have come across your substack, David! So many great insights here, and so well conceptualized. In my science fiction novel Exogenesis I likewise imagined two groups, equivalent to your “People of the Earth” and “People of the Machine”, a few hundred years in the future, and the conflict between them. This tidy contrast works well in fiction, and as a frame of formal analysis, yet the reality might end up being a bit more messy, as actual history tends to be. Either way we are in for an interesting upheaval. I look forward to your writing!

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Thanks so much Peco, and likewise I'm thrilled to have discovered the newsletters that you and Ruth write. I'm just beginning on them now, and they're so full of insight and treading across ground that is so much on my mind right now.

I'm going to order a copy of Exogenesis!

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Jan 17Liked by David Mattin

We need new stories. New visions of what our future can be. and that's mine:

"I can see myself as both a machine, holding the purity of machines, devoid of emotions and based solely on ruthless logic, and as a last stronghold of remembered humanity and rebellion against the emotionlessness and pure rationality of machines. The real question here is: the only thing that will allow me to choose between the two sides is my emotions(which is ironically a human based sentiment generally led to suffer). Will I choose the world of machines, based solely on justice and rules, in the face of humanity's cruelty, or will I rely on the hope, the strongest emotion held by humans, in the ruthless and soulless world of machines? I don't know the answer to this question either. And the only thing that will reveal it is time."

With greater respect to this amazing essay... I am @cryptojokerr at Twitter and show you my respect to this piece of art.

Gratitude from Met.

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Jan 15Liked by David Mattin

Thanks David. I was surprised though to read the following:

'You can’t answer these questions unless you have an account of what we humans really are. And of the relationship we have, at the deepest level, to the cosmos we find ourselves in.

The old religions once supplied such an account. For many inhabitants of modernity, the scientific revolution dismantled it. Now we must build anew. That, in the end, is the demand this new world makes of us.'

It strikes me that it is more a question of 'same old, same old'. In super short - God the creator and upholder of the universe (and therefore completely outside of it) has made us in his image. We have rejected his rule and have been setting ourselves up as gods ever since. A key aspect of this is deciding for ourselves what is good and bad. Although we have made lots of educational and technological progress, the deciding what is good and bad isn't going so well. God teaches us that the only possible way is to submit to him, seek to do good and prefer others over ourselves (not our first thoughts when wanting to become gods) - he even demonstrated this for us by becoming incarnate and dying to show the true way to life and power (now lifted up above every other name). Counter-intuitively the end point of all this is actually becoming gods and reigning with Christ. The point is the moral transformation is a prerequisite, not the technological know-how. Oh, and by the way, the creator also let's us know this situation isn't going on indefinitely, he's calling time at some point. I think that account still seems exactly relevant and we are no nearer to having a robust moral position without reference to God and no nearer at all to being able to behave perfectly, especially if we have more power.

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Carrie, thanks so much for this thoughtful reply. I'm as convinced as can be that the questions the technology revolution pose to us are, in the end, spiritual questions. Much more coming on all that this year.

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Jan 14Liked by David Mattin

Flashback to C.P. Snow's Two Cultures - - science and arts. He recommends building bridges as do I. As humans evolve into two behaviorally separate species, it may become important to suppress the temptation for each to regard the other as "alien". I'll keep reading your blog as long as you keep sharing this kind of insightful commentary. Thank you, Liza

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Thanks so much for reading Liza. CP Snow's Two Cultures idea was quite an influence on me as a teenager fascinated by both the sciences (mainly physics and tech) and humanities. In the end I chose the humanities track when it came to higher education. But it was pretty painful to have to choose. And I've made up for it, in part, by winding up writing about technology. Thanks for reading, and much more coming soon.

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Jan 14Liked by David Mattin

Brilliant David. Looking forward to reading it all.

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Thanks so much Sam; more coming very soon!

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Good article but I think humans are purposely being massively undervalued. I think we are the ultimate tech..why downgrade when we can rediscover who we ACTUALLY are, that is who we were and can become again...

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"The old religions once supplied such an account. For many inhabitants of modernity, the scientific revolution dismantled it."

This statement seems accurate on the surface but for anyone who really wants to dig into it there is much to be debated. It astonishes me that year after year, decade after decade, the entirety of western civilization casually dismisses thousands of years of civilization by framing it in a reductive materialist perspective and dismissing anything that doesn't fit this perspective as "myth". This, in spite of countless human experiences that happen on a daily basis that utterly defy explanation by this materialist perspective. Everyone is so sure, so convinced that they don't even give it a second thought without the slightest understanding of what they are dismissing- no one wants to be inconvenienced. Well, if you're up for some inconvenience, might I suggest looking into the works of Dr. Jeffrey J. Kripal or check out a few podcasts on Youtube where he is interviewed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_J._Kripal

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