July 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
Amidst birthday blues, a middle-aged woman contemplates humans’ digital trajectory, the Age of Data, and her own destiny, as she samples arts reflecting artificial intelligence, quantified self, virtual reality, lifelogging and other digital advances, in a series of reveries.
April. My birthday was coming.
Perhaps as a defense mechanism against the anxiety of putting on another year, my mind wandered far and wide.
Act I – Voyage to the edge of the Universe
First it scans the entire humanity’s creation and evolution, as narrated by the brilliant Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari in his brilliant new book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind”. Homo sapiens (of whom I am one) came to dominate the Planet through three great “Revolutions”: the Cognitive, the Agricultural, and the Scientific, he posited. We conquered the world because of our affinity for myth-making and stories. Our fictions allow us to cooperate. We buy into universally accepted “imagined realities” that bind us together and have given us power: Religion. Money. Nation states. Corporations… We are now so powerful we can trump nature and be our own intelligent designers.
Harari’s framework makes perfect sense to me. His wit, sarcasm and subversive humor are very much to my taste. However, more than how we got here, I am on an emergency to know where we are going. Hence, I cannot help but skip 70,000 years to jump to the last chapter: “The End of Homo Sapiens”. « Read the rest of this entry »
February 23, 2014 § Leave a comment
Since the emergence of human consciousness, mankind has been grappling with two eternal questions:
- What is life and where did life come from?
- What is death and what happens after death?
These questions gave rise to religion. They also endure in works of art.
Paul Gaugain inscribed this on one of his masterpieces:
D’où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous
(Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?)
“Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?” by Paul Gauguin
E.B. White asked in “Charlotte’s Web”:
“After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die.”
Photo by: Nathan Hunsinger
For fellow humans living in the 21st century, composer Tod Machover asks these existential questions again in a futuristic opera “Death and the Powers“, a production of the MIT Media Lab where he teaches Music and Media. « Read the rest of this entry »