James Bridle’s book shines a light into the New Dark Age


Have you ever been to a movie that surprised you? Having seen the trailer and watched past movies from the same producer, you assumed that you knew what was going to happen. That is the experience I had with James Bridle’s new book New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future
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When I read the title, I expected a book describing the coming collapse of Western civilisation. The problem is that this crash is already upon us. Whether it be the breakdown of infrastructure, Eroom’s Law, the unreliability of images and the rise of machine learning algorithms, the darkness is already here.

This book is less about the actual technologies at play and more about their impact on society. It is what Ursula Franklin describes as ‘technology as a system.’ Bridle’s focus is on new ways of thinking about, through and with technology.

In light of the recent revelations around Cambridge Analytica and GDPR, I recently reflected upon the importance of informed consent. I argued that we have a responsibility to:

  • Critically reflect and ask questions
  • Learn from and through others
  • Engage in new challenges

Bridle’s book starts this journey by actively informing us. He then puts forward the challenge of what next.

There is a kind of shame in speaking about the exigencies of the present, and a deep vulnerability, but it must not stop us thinking. We cannot fail each other now.

Although the book offers more questions than answers, it does it in a way that left me feeling somehow hopeful. Whether you are coming from the perspective of culture, education or politics, this book is a must read for anyone feeling at all dissatisfied with the current state of the world today.


For a different introduction, listen to an interview with Bridle on The Guardian:


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REVIEW: New Dark Age – Technology and the End of the Future by Aaron Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

7 thoughts on “REVIEW: New Dark Age – Technology and the End of the Future

  1. James Bridle explores the changes in the environment in New Dark Age. He discusses the melting of the caps and the ramifications this has on the rest of the world. What was of particular interest was the ramification for and of technology.

  2. I thought that it was just me with the strange feeling like I am being listened too. Really disconcerting that instead they are capturing images. This is a worry on multiple levels. That any semblance of privacy has seemingly left the building, but also the waste associated with collecting such data.
    I am reminded of the discussion of a big data tax mentioned in Sabeel Rahman’s post The New Octopus. James Bridle also talks about the ‘Age of the Image’ in the New Dark Age:

    As digital culture becomes faster, higher bandwidth, and more image-based, it also becomes more costly and destructive – both literally and figuratively. It requires more input and energy, and affirms the supremacy of the image – the visual representation of data – as the representation of the world.

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