Why We Like the National Spelling Bee

Each year news that the National Spelling Bee is underway forces us to realize that we hadn’t given the event a single thought since we heard the same news a year earlier. We didn’t follow the stories of the competition’s top contestants. We didn't look forward with anticipation, discussing predictions with friends and colleagues. If… Continue reading Why We Like the National Spelling Bee

The Dissolution of Cheating: Kevin’s Heart

J. Cole just dropped a video from his latest project KOD—Kevin’s Heart. In the video, comedian Kevin Hart’s role is a meta- and self-conscious reflection (of Hart playing himself, “playing himself”) that draws on the news of Hart’s personal infidelity to his wife—or “cheating scandal turned extortion plot,” as Dee Lockett puts it—going public. Don’t get… Continue reading The Dissolution of Cheating: Kevin’s Heart

Brief Reflections on the Use of Technology in Education

1. The torrent of Facebook-related scandals has incited deep reflection on the role of technology in our lives. We simply do not know all that our new technologies are doing to us. At this point, understanding ourselves, both individually and as a society, cannot be so easily distinguished from understanding technology. The two reflect and… Continue reading Brief Reflections on the Use of Technology in Education

It Won’t Be Different This Time

After the Las Vegas shooting I wrote a will called “If I’m Killed in a Mass Shooting.” In it I made two claims: There is no gun debate. Despite the patina of rationality, the NRA slate of arguments is so transparently terrible that it makes a mockery of the whole concept of public discourse. What’s… Continue reading It Won’t Be Different This Time

Facebook Should Shut Itself Down

The more I read and think about Facebook, the more I am convinced that it is deeply terrible for the world—and, as a corollary that few people accept, the more obvious it is to me that Facebook should no longer exist. So I am calling on Mark Zuckerberg to do the right thing: shut Facebook… Continue reading Facebook Should Shut Itself Down

The Specter of Machine Intelligence

1 Machines are coming to resemble human beings more each day. At a concrete level, this is true because human beings are using increasingly sophisticated techniques to produce machines that increasingly resemble human beings. But more abstractly, this is true in principle: machines exist in the first place because they resemble human beings. Karl Marx,… Continue reading The Specter of Machine Intelligence

The Coming Oppression

What makes racism wrong? Sexism? Speciesism? Each have their own complexities, but at the most general level, all three share a common error. They involve attributing moral significance to something that isn’t morally significant. A racist assumes that the division of people into various races allows you ascribe different moral worth to people. A sexist… Continue reading The Coming Oppression