Ways of Being

Beyond Human Intelligence

352 pages

English language

Published May 18, 2022 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

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4 stars (3 reviews)

What does it mean to be intelligent? Is it something unique to humans, or shared with other beings--beings of flesh, wood, stone, and silicon? The last few years have seen rapid advances in "artificial" intelligence. But as it approaches, it also gets weirder: rather than a friend or helpmate, AI increasingly appears as something stranger than we ever imagined, an alien invention that threatens to decenter and supplant us.

At the same time, we're only just becoming aware of the other intelligences which have been with us all along, even if we've failed to recognize or acknowledge them. These others--the animals, plants, and natural systems that surround us are slowly revealing their complexity, agency, and knowledge, just as the technologies we've built to sustain ourselves are threatening to cause their extinction, and ours. What can we learn from them, and how can we change ourselves, our technologies, our societies, and …

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5 stars

Where I am right now, after an overlapping decades-long journey through computability, animal and ecological intelligence, finding human humility after capitalism's techno-categorizing-hubris. Seeking an answer to how technology, how participation in understanding, should adapt to a collaborative-multiple-perspective de-centering of humanity and our binary truths. This sticks to a deep middle, the claims Bridle makes for "opening up to the more-than-human world" are broad, pointed in good directions, and avoid anger or hopelessness while staying critical. My recommendations for adjacent reading would be Frans de Waal's "Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are", Emma Marris' "Wild Souls", Richard Power's "The Overstory", and a lot of Ursula K LeGuin, but the bibliography has a whole stack of new reading lined up for me too.

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