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Technology is starting to behave in intelligent and unpredictable ways that even its creators don’t understand. As machines increasingly shape global events, how can we regain control?

Instead of a utopian future in which technological advancement casts a dazzling, emancipatory light on the world, we seem to be entering a new dark age characterised by ever more bizarre and unforeseen events. The Enlightenment ideal of distributing more information ever more widely has not led us to greater understanding and growing peace, but instead seems to be fostering social divisions, distrust, conspiracy theories and post-factual politics. How have we come to this point – and has utopia gone forever?

We will hear from James Bridle - an artist and writer working across technologies and disciplines – who has exhibited in Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australia and writes regularly on literature, culture and networks in magazines and newspapers including Frieze, Wired, Domus, Cabinet, the Atlantic, the New Statesman and the Observer.

James was named as one of the 1000 Most Influential People in London by the Evening Standard in 2007, and one of the 100 Most Influential People in Europe by WIRED Magazine in 2015.

"New Dark Age", his book about technology, knowledge, and the end of the future, was published by Verso (UK & US) in 2018. Explore some of the reviews below:

“New Dark Age is among the most unsettling and illuminating books I’ve read about the Internet, which is to say that it is among the most unsettling and illuminating books I’ve read about contemporary life.”

– Mark O'Connell, The New Yorker

“[New Dark Age] lucidly argues how our enthusiasm for, and reliance on technology is working against us by undermining our ability to reliably anticipate future risks…Bridle’s multidisciplinary research deftly hopscotches across science, politics and the arts. His writing is clear and precise, showing his background in computer science and experience in public communication.”

– Frieze

“A book-length argument for the idea that vastly proliferating knowledge—from mass surveillance, social media, artificial intelligence, and other sources—is paradoxically making the world harder to comprehend, while the technology that underlies it is creating environmental damage that we’re ill-equipped to understand or solve … Highly nuanced in its analysis of technology, and it provokes [one] to think more about the unspoken social and political assumptions underlying a lot of [the] industry.”

– The Verge

“Each chapter of New Dark Age provides a different lens that reveals how deeply these imperatives have permeated our social relationships and how opaque they have rendered actual knowledge...[James Bridle] has done us a great service by emphasizing the tangible nature of the infrastructure that constitutes the internet.”

– The Intercept

See also