New book by Edward Ashford Lee: The Coevolution
We would like to recommend the newest book by our much appreciated colleague Edward Ashford Lee: The Coevolution - The Entwined Futures of Humans and Machines (The MIT Press). According to the author, any royalties he gets for this book will be donated to the Wikimedia Foundation, which nurtures his favorite living digital being, Wikipedia.
Edward A. Lee is also a speaker at our two upcoming events on Digital Humanism: on 15 May 2020 at the Online Workshop Informatics in Times of COVID-19, and on 19 November 2020 at the 2020 Vienna Workshop on Digital Humanism!
Summary of the book (taken from the website of the publisher MIT Press):
Should digital technology be viewed as a new life form, sharing our ecosystem and coevolving with us?
Are humans defining technology, or is technology defining humans? In this book, Edward Ashford Lee considers the case that we are less in control of the trajectory of technology than we think. It shapes us as much as we shape it, and it may be more defensible to think of technology as the result of a Darwinian coevolution than the result of top-down intelligent design. Richard Dawkins famously said that a chicken is an egg's way of making another egg. Is a human a computer's way of making another computer? To understand this question requires a deep dive into how evolution works, how humans are different from computers, and how the way technology develops resembles the emergence of a new life form on our planet.
Lee presents the case for considering digital beings to be living, then offers counterarguments. What we humans do with our minds is more than computation, and what digital systems do—be teleported at the speed of light, backed up, and restored—may never be possible for humans. To believe that we are simply computations, he argues, is a “dataist” faith and scientifically indefensible. Digital beings depend on humans—and humans depend on digital beings. More likely than a planetary wipe-out of humanity is an ongoing, symbiotic coevolution of culture and technology.
Lee is also author of the book Plato and the Nerd: The Creative Partnership of Humans and Technology.