The State of Algorithmic Politics

Emotional Truths Why is it that at a time when the future of human existence is threatened by climate change, the future of work is threatened by automation and the future of every other living being is threatened by humans,…

Why is Liberalism in Trouble?

Photographer: Pedro Lastra | Source: Unsplash One of the characteristics of the modern era is the importance of politics. We expect it to give us freedom and equality, prosperity and progress, and in a dystopian mode, fear and destruction. It’s a…

Every Utopia becomes a Dystopia

A Map of Utopia I remember Reagan saying to Gorbachev “Tear down this wall.” Sorry, that’s fake news. Or at least white lie news. There’s no way I could have heard a live conference in West Berlin in 1987. It was…

The Collector of Dystopias

Photographer: Pawel Janiak | Source: Unsplash Star Wars and Scotch Tape I am a technophile; always was and always will be. It doesn’t prevent me from agreeing with Gandhi’s critique of technological modernity. Instead, we can have fun asking such questions as:…

The Form of the World

Photographer: Heather Lo | Source: Unsplash Configurations India has a renewed government with a few new faces, the most unusual of whom is the new minister for external affairs, Subramanyam Jaishankar, a career diplomat who is now in the Cabinet Committee…

Bits of India 2: The Secularism of the RSS

Photographer: Aashish R Gautam | Source: Unsplash Buyer beware: this essay has a higher than usual ratio of speculation to explanation. I am playing with two central ideas (illustrated in the flowchart below): What? The modern system — with the state and the…

Bits of India: Introduction

Photographer: Ron Hansen | Source: Unsplash The big news from my part of the world is that India organized the biggest, most expansive (and perhaps most expensive) elections ever conducted. Narendra Modi and the BJP were the clear winners. Not the…

The Tyranny of Experience

Photographer: v2osk | Source: Unsplash There’s no greater tyranny in my world than that of experience, by which I mean the ever more sophisticated versions of the claim “seeing is believing.” We are skeptical by nature, demanding evidence and proof and…

Earth Day 2019

Photographer: Guillaume de Germain | Source: Unsplash Many lifetimes ago in a different reality, the devas and asuras made a deal by the seaside. They were tired of dying and when one of them heard the secret to immortality lay hidden…

Computing Climate Change

Photographer: Markus Spiske | Source: Unsplash In my previous essay, I arrived at an unoriginal idea: that the computer is a mental telescope through which we can view the world. I didn’t say the universe is a computer because that would…