Has Technology Evolved Beyond Our Control?

James Bridle

Each one of us interacts every day with technological processes we neither see nor understand. Today, however, even the makers of digital technologies are admitting their own lack of understanding of their creations. This is why there are no reasonable explanations when an Amazon Echo ends up recording a conversation and sending it to a random phone contact, or when cartoons for kids on YouTube unexpectedly devolve into macabre bloodbaths. There are no people behind these processes, only machines acting on their own.

How did we reach this point? Because we've bought into a massive lie, says writer and visual artist James Bridle: the belief "that everything is computable and can be resolved by the application of new technologies.” Humans have always made technologies to help them shape the world, but we've now reached a point where these technologies are reshaping the world on their own in ways we cannot see. If we do not understand them, they will overtake us – and the world will only become more frightening and unintelligible. This essay is a good place to start.

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