In the middle of playing badminton, my 12-yr-old son asks why Steven Hawking is wrong to predict, worriedly, our overcoming by “intelligent machines”

“Because,” I should have said, “we aren’t just some things with intelligence in the world. We’re more like the world with intelligence in some things. You can no more abstract intelligence from the world than you can abstract existence from existents. What comes back from the abstraction, if anything, is something entirely different from what went into it.”

And he would have said: “Thanks, Dad.”

“I’m glad we had this talk. Now go read Being and Time.”



Author: JD Fleming

I am Professor of English Literature at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC. My work is in the intellectual history of the early-modern period (1500-1700), with a special interest in epistemic issues around the emergence of modern natural science (the "Scientific Revolution"). Philosophically, for me, these issues are subsumed in hermeneutics.

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