Machines

AI: Machines or Magic?

AI has always only partially been about the actual future of probable developments and base-rate outcomes; it has also been singularly productive of philosophical speculation, fantasy, and arguments about ourselves and the future ...

The Pinsetter’s Lament

What makes humans human? What distinguishes us from the machines we design to perform our tasks, machines we admire for their elegant mimicry, then resent and fear? If a compelling case ...

Design with Disability

The “Accessible Icon” by Brian Glenney and Sara Hendren began as design activism: the artists defaced existing disability access symbols with red and orange vinyl stickers. Today, their so-called ...

Do Images Still Help Us See?

Contrary to what its title might suggest, Hito Steyerl’s latest collection of essays does not explain how to avoid customs charges at dubious borders. Much more ...

The World Silicon Valley Made

A repairman at the Shenzhen electronic bazaar treks from stall to stall, gathering inexpensive camera modules, casings, glass displays, batteries, and motherboards, and then, with only a screwdriver ...

Audio Companions

Some years back, the cultural critic Stephen Metcalf noted, in a smart review of a new essay collection by David Sedaris, that we turn to radio for companionship. Companionship might appear to be ...

Feeling like the Internet

What has the advent of the internet meant for the novel? Apart, that is, from its having opened a gaping time-sucking sinkhole at the center of culture? The sweet drip-feed of sentiment and savagery ...

Our Metrics, Ourselves

In 1994, a doctor named Clifton Meador penned a satirical portrait of “the last well person” for the New England Journal of Medicine. The protagonist, bent on discovering every datum of unwellness …

The Politics of Networking a Nation

In 1981, one year before his death, the Soviet cybernetician and computer pioneer Victor Glushkov published the book What Is the OGAS? OGAS was the Russian acronym for All-State Automated System for ...

Josef Albers in the iPad Era

In a crisp white shirt, his right knee on the floor, famed former Bauhaus instructor and future head of Yale University’s department of design Josef Albers holds a half-smoked cigarette in one hand ...