'Ways of Being' Review: Whole Earth Network
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Wall Street Journal
Posted: July 17th, 2023
The artist, writer and technologist James Bridle begins "Ways of Being" with an uncanny discovery: a line of stakes tagged with unfathomable letters and numbers in thick marker pen. The region of [Greece] is rich in oil, we learn, and the company that won the contract to extract it from the foothills of the Pindus mountains is using "cognitive technologies" to "augment ... strategic decision making." The grid of wooden stakes left by "unmarked vans, helicopters and work crews in hi-vis jackets" are the "tooth- and claw-marks of Artificial Intelligence, at the exact point where it meets the earth." "Ways of Being" sets off on a tour of the natural world, arguing that intelligence is something that "arises ... from thinking and working together," and that "everything is intelligent." We hear of elephants, chimpanzees and dolphins who resist and subvert experiments testing their sense of self. We find redwoods communicating through underground networks. In the most extraordinary result of all, in 2014 the Australian biologist Monica Gagliano showed that mimosa plants can remember a sudden fall for a month. Ever since the Industrial Revolution, science and technology have been used to analyze, conquer and control. But "Ways of Being" argues that they can equally be used to explore and augment connection and empathy. The author cites researchers studying migration patterns with military radar and astronomers turning telescopes designed for surveillance on Earth into instruments for investigating the dark energy of the cosmos.
Note: Read a thought-provoking article featuring a video interview with artist and technologist James Bridle as he explores how technology can be used to reflect the innovative and life-enhancing capacities of non-human natural systems. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on mysterious nature of reality from reliable major media sources.