Roger Berkowitz: "The Singularity and the Human Condition"
Introduced by Thomas Bartscherer
Part of the ROSTRUM series, hosted by The Language and Thinking Program at Bard College languageandthinking.bard.edu/
Roger Berkowitz is the Academic Director of the Hannah Arendt Center for Ethical and Political Thinking, and an Associate Professor of Political Studies and Human Rights. He spoke in the Multi-Purpose Room of Bertelsman Campus Center on the Bard campus on August 20, 2014.
The Singularity is a word signifying the coming moment when human beings evolve into a higher form of life by merging with the technologies we create. If you believe futurists like Ray Kurzweil, the time of the Singularity is near. But even if you doubt that humans and machines will merge, it is a fact that machines are increasingly taking on tasks and making judgments that were once the province of humans. From drones in war to computer trading on Wall Street and from Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to the computerization of medicine, machines are replacing humans not just on assembly lines but in quintessentially human activities. Robots are even caring for elderly patients and creating art—quintessentially human activities. The question we need to ask is: what will it mean to be human in an increasingly inhuman age? This is a question Hannah Arendt addressed directly over 50 years ago in her book The Human Condition. This talk explores Arendt's understanding of the question and the outline of her response.