Age of Entanglement

As our technological and institutional creations have become more complex, our relationship to them has changed. We now relate to them as we once related to nature. The Enlightenment is Dead, Long Live the Entanglement. by Danny Hillis. post

We have already given our institutions the ability to act on our behalf, and we are destined to have the same uneasy balance of power with our machines.

We will make the same attempts to build in checks and balances, to keep their goals aligned with ours. We will face similar challenges. In doing so we need to move far away from the understandable logic of Enlightenment thinking, into something more complicated.

We will worry less about the unpredictable forces of nature than about the unpredictable behaviors of our own constructions.

We can no longer see ourselves as separate from the natural world or our technology, but as a part of them, integrated, codependent, and entangled.

Unlike the Enlightenment, where progress was analytic and came from taking things apart, progress in the Age of Entanglement is synthetic and comes from putting things together.

Think of the canonical image of collaboration during the Enlightenment: fifty-five white men in powdered wigs sitting in a Philadelphia room, writing the rules of the American Constitution. Contrast that with an image of the global collaboration that constructed the Wikipedia, an interconnected document that is too large and too rapidly changing for any single contributor to even read.

Like any new powerful force in the world, like Science, it will be used for both good and evil. We are remaking ourselves, and we need to choose wisely what we are to become.


See Beware the Machines where we equate autonomous corporations with the feared AI. Perhaps the purpose of our work here is to include more people in the risky but unavoidable transformation Hillis describes.