25 May 2018

The New Techtopia or Thomas More Meets Big Data

"The Techtopian programme involves transhumanism and artificial intelligence leading to what Yuval Harari in Homo Deus (2017) terms the new religion of dataism. The control of social media has given Silicon Valley immense power to shape our identity and influence our choices."

It was the European Renaissance that formed much of what became the West’s vocabulary concerning individual freedom, humanism, political order and the idea of scientific inquiry freed from religious supervision or customary oversight. It gave rise, amongst other things, to speculation about the possibility of perfection. Neo-platonists, like Pico della Mirandola, wondered what man’s release from a determinist chain of being might mean. “What a great miracle is man”, Pico wrote, “the intermediary between creatures… familiar with the gods above him, as he is lord of the creatures beneath him.”1

In this optimistic spirit, later humanists, like Thomas More, imagined Utopia, “no place”, where “there’s never any excuse for idleness”. More’s society of perfect happiness was also one of complete surveillance where “everyone has his eye on you”.2 In a similar vein, Francis Bacon conceived a New Atlantis where Salomon’s house or the scientific College of the Six Days Work, would find “out the true nature of all things (whereby God might have the more glory in the workmanship of them, and men the more fruit in the use of them)”.3

The scientific revolution and the eighteenth-century Enlightenment reinforced this quest. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus (1816) captured the boundary-freeing dream of science which also came to address the growing irrelevance of God. By the late nineteenth century both Friedrich Nietzsche and Thomas Hardy speculated on the meaning of God’s death. As Hardy wondered:


And who or what shall fill his place? Whither will wanderers turn distracted eyes For some fixed star to stimulate their pace Towards the goal of their enterprise?


It is in Silicon Valley that big tech offers the latest utopian answer to Hardy’s question concerning “the goal of their enterprise”.




In the Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus identified what he considered the central question facing humanity in a post-religious and post-Holocaust world, namely, why do we not commit suicide?4 The big tech companies that have come, over the last two decades, to shape the new, virtual world order answer the existential question with another and older one, that the existentialists of the first half of the twentieth century never factored into their calculations, “why don’t we abolish death and disease?”5

Fictional tales of conscious machines have been science fiction themes frequently referenced by internet pioneers like Elon Musk. I Robot, Blade Runner and Ex Machina evince an obsessive desire to replicate human cognition. Silicon Valley ignores existential angst, denies biblical warnings like Nimrod’s attempt on heaven that resulted in the Tower of Babel6 and offers instead the singularity. Google’s Ray Kurzweil considers that the demise of death will represent not only the fulfilment of the Enlightenment project, but also announce the “rapture”.

We are in the midst of a technological revolution which, like its nineteenth-century industrial precursor, challenges our moral values, social cohesion and identity. Smart and interactive habitats, machine learning, data mining and domain specific intelligence are new realities that disrupt conventional political and moral understanding and in unanticipated ways.

The Techtopian programme involves transhumanism and artificial intelligence leading to what Yuval Harari in Homo Deus (2017) terms the new religion of dataism. The control of social media has given Silicon Valley immense power to shape our identity and influence our choices. Rapidly acquired wealth means that the new big tech elite form a transnational plutocracy, temporarily housed in the Bay area of San Francisco, that has little interest in the nation-state or democracy unless it suits their disruptive, progressive vision. The new technologies and the way the Techtopians implement them, therefore, have profound, but little understood implications, both for our democratic, cultural and moral self-understanding.

As recent scandals involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, Twitter and other networks demonstrate, the new media now surpasses traditional media as a medium to influence voter behaviour and democratic outcomes. In Hungary, for example, since 2005, netizens consider the internet a more important source of political information than radio or television.7 Increasingly, an unaccountable, left-coast technocracy mines personal data and acts as the universal arbiter of political speech. Moreover where conservative governments, like those in Poland and Hungary, have tried to constrain these platforms or impose taxes upon them, they have faced criticism from the European Union and international opprobrium. Yet the felt need to preserve the integrity of a distinct political culture confronted by a ubiquitous, technocratic behemoth surely requires serious consideration.




Political and social organisation has always reflected the state of technological knowledge. The invention of the stirrup created feudalism. The printing press enabled the emergence of the Gutenberg galaxy which gave us the reformation of religion, the modern secular state and scientific rationalism.8 It liberated the free individual from the cocoon of medieval order.

The start of the computer age of electronics created the global village. “The computer is”, Marshall McLuhan contended, “the most extraordinary of all the technological clothing ever devised by man, since it is the extension of our central nervous system.”9 New technologies create new environments.10 Any evaluation of the social impact of these “new modes of experience” must recognise that these technologies are already “generations ahead of our thinking”.11

What we might wonder does the social media revolution and its preoccupation with big data mean for our ruling western political and economic assumptions? More precisely how does the latest technological clothing affect our secular, liberal and conservative modes of experience?




Pursuing the death of death is undoubtedly hubristic, but it already has transformative political and economic consequences. In practical terms, the new technologists have rapidly acquired immense financial, social and technical power. Amazon, PayPal and Google (restructured as Alphabet in 2015) launched after 1994, Gmail first appeared in 2004, so too did Facebook. Twitter began in 2006, Airbnb in 2008, Tesla in 2003, Uber in 2009.

Apple and Microsoft (1975) are relatively ancient. Apple launched in 1976 but its founder, Steve Jobs, rejuvenated it with the iMac (1996), the iPad (2004) and the iPhone (2007). Significantly, Silicon Valley hosts the corporate headquarters of Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tesla, Uber, PayPal and Airbnb. The valley engineers the future and the future is algorithmic.

In 2017, eight of the world’s most highly valued companies were technology businesses. In 2017, the combined market capitalisation of these companies was $4.7tn. That is 30 per cent of the combined capitalisation of the other 92 companies in the world’s 100 most valuable firms. Of these companies, five (Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook) are from the US, two (Alibaba and Tencent) from China and one (Samsung) from Korea.

What are the social and political consequences of this remarkable dominance? Jamie Bartlett’s BBC documentary, The Secrets of Silicon Valley, revealed its visionary character. Google’s slogan was “don’t be evil” and subsequently changed to do the right thing”. Techtopians assume they are “the solution, not the problem”. They also want “one global community” that will “reclaim our cities”. But to build their new world order, they must first disrupt” the old. What does disruption entail?

It is no accident that the Silicon Valley experiment evolved in California and reflects the progressive, libertarian idealism of the 1960s. Steve Jobs, the founding father, was a hippie dropout. An anti-establishment worldview shaped the valley’s techtopia as it proceeded from counterculture to cyber culture.13 At the same time, infant tech start-ups, like Apple, from the 1980s onward, benefited from the private sector reforms, monetarist free market and minimal state thinking that underpinned a left-coast version of Reaganomics. Sceptical of state economic power, both free marketers and counterculture capitalists favoured market solutions and limited taxation. Libertarians may diverge on the scope of their opposition to existing political and economic systems, but the libertarian precursors of the tech dream maintained that allowing the market free play would facilitate competition, economic and financial innovation, create employment and have a utilitarian and invisible handed effect in generating greater wealth for all.

As Robert Nozick argued in Anarchy State and Utopia, only a minimal state that respects individual rights allows us “to choose our life and to realise our ends and our conceptions of ourselves”.14 This libertarian understanding formed the side constraints that nurtured the cyber culture take off. In other words, libertarian in its foundations, the creators of the virtual world conceive it as an anarchy along hippie, communalist lines. The Internet Rights Charter holds the internet to bea global public space” open, affordable and accessible to all”. Like the major US (but not Chinese) big tech companies, the charter upholds freedom of expression and rights to privacy.

However, despite its libertarian origins, current big tech behaviour disavows its free market roots. The economic strategy of the new media Leviathans is not competition, but “creative” monopoly. The difference between Apple’s current hook to share market value assumes the super normal profits that only a monopoly could deliver. Similar valuations apply to Amazon, Google and Facebook. These companies have no profitable ways to invest their huge revenue streams. Facebook and Google sustain their monopoly position by becoming an investment fund “attached to a media machine”.15

Under monopolist conditions, the GAFA tetrarchy (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) threatens to overrun the free market. Their impact on print and mainstream media has been both transformative and destabilising. Facebook, Google and Twitter are essentially media platforms that mine data and generate profits through advertising. In 2017, Google and Facebook received 63 per cent of all US digital advertising revenue.

However, these enormously profitable businesses are parasitic on “the investments in collecting information made by others”. Despite weaponising the first amendment, Twitter, Facebook and Google have become highly efficient disseminators of non-information. Ironically, the new space of virtual freedom is the most valuable weapon for political control. Used by “people of ill-will”, from Putin’s Fancy Bears to Islamic State, they afford platforms “for the deliberate dissemination of dangerous falsehoods”. These developments “raise huge issues” for maintaining an open society from online enemies that neither Karl Popper nor Nozick could envisage.16




One consequence of this evolution is a new and intangible economic order. In Capitalism without Capital (2017) Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake examine how major developed economies now invest in intangible assets design, branding, R&D and software – rather than in tangible assets, such as physical machinery or buildings. They contend that these intangible assets have determined the key economic changes of the last decade, from economic inequality to stagnating productivity. New technology drives this change. Apple, the world’s most valuable company, owns no physical assets.

It is the intangible assets, the integration of software and design into a brand, that creates value. The intangible economy is fundamentally different from the tangible one. Its characteristics involve “scalability” of the product design, especially through the new global communications environment, spillovers into other products in the same domain and synergies where design and development hubs create dynamic environments where intangibles cluster, revitalising areas like Shoreditch in London, whilst, at the same time, generating greater inequalities in wealth and its distribution across the wider society. Whilst intangibility flourishes, the old economy, wages and employment stagnate.17

Yet investment in intangibles (the major source of investment in the UK, US and Sweden and a growing one in Hungary) is risky because products are both scalable and mobile. Some estimates predict that by 2033 47 per cent of jobs will be at high risk of disappearing. Robots will replace insurance writers, bus and truck drivers, waitresses, and carpenters. An algorithm could soon outperform doctors, nurses, lawyers, accountants, architects and artists.18

Intangibility also facilitates the rise of super dominant companies, removed from political or fiscal oversight. The oligopolist character of the new media and the intangible economy it has made possible means that since the Western financial crisis (2007), the Gini coefficient has widened in all developed economies, fracturing a critical link between capitalism and democracy. Instead, intangible capitalism seemingly confirms the Pareto principle. The sociologist Wilfredo Pareto argued that society always reverts to a mean where 20 per cent of the population own 80 per cent of the wealth.19

The structural implications of the intangible economy favour an iron law of oligarchy in a twenty-first-century networked form. It is estimated that in 10 years there will be 150 billion networked measuring sensors. This will produce a mass of data about personal preferences which will enable those who own the data to disconnect the means of doing politics from its ends.20 The new media platforms will increasingly gather data to produce information that influences decision-making, disrupting the political relationship between the individual, the rule of law and the market.

Social media companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google already offer platforms to target voter preferences and facilitate extremist ideologies that render democratic processes open to divisive manipulation by alien powers. Putin’s subversive propaganda campaigns have been so successful because all he needed “was social media”.21

Current discussion concerning social media focuses, primarily, on its effects on the economic and social infrastructure: the job market, personal privacy or democratic transparency, and the manipulation of the electorate through fake news and disinformation. However, merely addressing AI’s external impact on society neglects the existential question: how will intelligent algorithms affect the liberal self-understanding of the autonomous, rational self?




Conceptions of social contract, natural right and liberty that shaped secular political understanding since the seventeenth century assume a rational individual.

Despite developments in neuroscience that dispute the understanding of the self as a “single essence”,22 these do not necessarily have moral or political implications. Even if my internal voice is not free, no one knows better than I what I want most. Science notwithstanding, I still have every reason to value and protect my free choices.23

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data mining, however, alters the paradigm. AI will soon be able to analyse individuals in such intimate detail that it will know them better than they know themselves. The reasons for listening to our inner voice will be extinguished. AI will know better what we really want. In Anarchy State and Utopia Robert Nozick assumed that no one would choose a pleasure or experience machine if it became a possibility. AI suggests otherwise.24 This has implications for the self-owning, autonomous individual central to liberal democratic theory and practice.

As the utility of preserving individual autonomy collapses, the political and social structures and values that reflect it could also dissolve. Governments will increasingly use algorithms to predict policy outcomes.25 If machines show that they can provide consistent and correct policy decisions they will steal democratic control from the people and their representatives. Once a ruling elite accept that the intelligent machine holds the “right answer”, and their electorates enjoy the benefits of its success, we will, as if by an invisible hand, enter a condition of techno tutelage. AI could attain a level of intelligence vastly greater than humanity’s combined intellectual wherewithal”,26 rendering the psychological utility of voting redundant.

AI will not be a “tool” to make our lives easier, it will construct intelligent systems capable of participating in a feedback loop with humans. AI will present us with answers about our nature, needs and desires that we did not know we wanted. It will force us to question what it means to exist with dignity, and what values should be preserved in order to live the good life. AI thus challenges the values that shape our social and political order and renders abstract philosophical arguments in defence of freedom obsolete.




For Techtopians AI dataism” assumes a quasi religious character. Ray Kurzweil, director of engineering at Google, a media platform mutating into an AI business, predicted The Age of Spiritual Machines (2006). Kurzweil argues that “the human species together with the computational age technology it created will be able to solve age old problems [...] in a post-biological future”. From Kurzweil’s transhumanist perspective, we have entered the fifth evolutionary epoch where human intelligence merges with technology to reach the “singularity” at which point we (or at least an elite) would “be transformed into spiritual machines”.27 Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom argues that it is probable that we already inhabit a matrix-like simulation of the past created by our post-human descendants.28 Bostrom’s followers embrace “simulation theology”. They include big tech pioneers like Google as well as Peter Thiel of Palantir and PayPal and Elon Musk of Space-X and Tesla who have founded the Singularity University and the Future of Humanity Institute.

Socrates maintained that to philosophise is to learn how to die. Whether one believes the soul is eternal or perishes with the body, Western civilisation historically recognised this natural order of things. Big tech transhumanism, by contrast, seeks life everlasting. Beyond criticising what he calls the ideology of the inevitability of the death of every individual”,29 Thiel also finances SENS (Strategically Engineered Negligible Senescence) Research Foundation, devoted tocuring” death.30

The Zuckerbergs, Tim Cooks and Larry Pages call the shots on America’s Left Coast. Although they maintain similar professional profiles, as investors and entrepreneurs, Thiel’s endorsement of Trump stands out against big tech’s overwhelming liberal progressive sympathies.

Yet, what unifies Zuckerberg, Kurzweil, Musk and Thiel may be more decisive than the traditional Republican–Democrat political divide. All Techtopians embrace an ideology of “technologism”, or more accurately an abstract scientific rationalism, that triumphs over any conventional left–right partisanship. All questions recede before the task of technological progress. In the first decades of this millennium, the technical view has triumphed. Even economists today are essentially technologists, locating the demand-side “real” factors behind our chronically low interest rates that account for contemporary secular stagnation.

As Elon Musk, channelling Bacon, explains, big tech applies scientific method both to engineering and society. “It’s really helpful”, he maintains “for figuring out the tricky things”.31 Techtopians possess an unprecedented belief in building new worlds by promulgating a technological ideal untrammelled by the threat of competition or social discontent. Visionary entrepreneurs, like Musk, Thiel or Zuckerberg have, in the process, acquired the cult status of philosopher-CEOs.

Unlike the classical world, where philosophy was a stoic and contemplative affair, the new philosopher-CEO augments his wealth and scale in the service of “realising” a Utopia based on incessant innovation. Zuckerberg, Page, Thiel and Musk pursue, like Bacon before them, the vision of a New Atlantis.



More precisely, the techtopian vision represents the latest version of what the English political philosopher Michael Oakeshott identified as rationalism in politics. This style first emerged in the early modern period of European politics.32 It emphasised reason, not as Aristotle or Thomas Aquinas understood it, namely, as a faculty of the practical understanding, but as Bacon, and, subsequently, Descartes and Kant came to reinvent it, in rationalist, theoretical or abstract scientific terms. Since the Enlightenment, rationalism has promoted the sovereignty of technique that affords the prospect of certainty. As Ray Kurzweil contends, AI merely assumes the rationalist legacy of the Enlightenment project.

The possibility of certain knowledge, which a scientific method applied to the realm of politics or society intimates, provides a technique which not only “ends with certainty but begins with certainty and is certain throughout”.33 Already, by the early decades of the twentieth century, the extent to which particular traditions and cultures had given way to the plain rational ideologies of Marxism, liberalism and nationalism illustrated how deeply the rationalist disposition had invaded modern political thought and practice.34 In the case of Techtopia the new ideology is dataism.

The rationalist concern with technique always intimated a politics of perfection, which in its twentieth-century ideological form welcomed the growing bureaucratic power of government to make its politics of faith conform to a rational plan.35 Oakeshott, as a conservative, contrasted the experience of a particular, contingent tradition and a local grammar of self-disclosure and self-understanding with the rationalist endeavour to reduce “the tangle and variety of experience” to a set of universal principles.36 Cutting itself off “from the traditional knowledge of society”, rationalism, or, what Musk and Zuckerberg term the scientific method, combines the politics of perfection with the politics of uniformity. Political activity consequently “consists in bringing the social, political, legal and institutional inheritance of society before the tribunal” of the rationalist’s intellect. “The rest”, as those who experience the roll-out of the intelligence-gathering Chinese social credit system “is rational administration”.37




The new giants of tech, Silicon Valley’s biggest companies, do not crave monopoly merely as a matter of profit. Instead, as Franklin Foer argues, “Big tech considers the concentration of power in its companies – in the networks they control – an urgent social good, the precursor to global harmony, a necessary condition for undoing the alienation of humankind.”38

Under such conditions of internet oligopoly, techno managerialism through the manipulation of choices, fears and desires undermines and replaces the autonomous individual of liberal thought with a servile dependent. The emergence of big tech renders democracy obsolete and creates conditions for elite rule based on the control and access to technology and big data. This is already happening in China where the ruling party, in collaboration with big data-gathering companies like Alibaba, and a universal social credit system, is constructing a virtual, digital dystopia.

Somewhat differently, across the splinternet, we can identify in Silicon Valley utopianism the lineaments of a new techno-guardian class building transnational processes and networks and an evolving theory of political and social organisation framed around Pareto’s 20/80 rule and Gaetano Mosca’s elite theory. The recent eruption of populism against this trend, signified by Trump, Brexit and the victories of Pis in Poland and Orbán’s Fidesz in Hungary, might only be a temporary blip, susceptible ultimately to long-term data management and big nudging.

Silicon Valley’s craving for monopoly stretches back to the counterculture of the 1960s, where it emerged, “from the most lyrical of visions of peace and love”.39 The hippie counterculture of Haight-Ashbury dreamt from the outset of subverting the “straight”, conservative, traditional order.

Such utopian visions, grounded in anarchic idealism, are, of course, the problem, not the solution. They represent the antithesis to the conservative understanding of civil society as a local and contingent compact between the dead, the living, and the yet to be born. As the English conservative philosopher Roger Scruton notes of the current great disruption, the tech world of virtual networks erodes places and erases


the hierarchies that settle there. They replace space by time, and time by a succession of crowded instants in which nothing really happens since everything only happens on screen… The web is an unspecified nowhere, a Hobbesian state of nature in cyberspace. But for that reason it cannot compete with the trustworthy somewhere for which most people yearn. It is a release from place but not a replacement.40


For the techtopian entrepreneur to engage in this rationalist quest is a gamble which may have its not insubstantial rewards. However, “when undertaken in a society not itself engaged in the gamble, it is mere folly”.41 The project of finding a shortcut to heaven is as old as the human race, and conduct that orients itself by big data, the scientific method and its axiomatic rules is precisely an attempt at this kind of shortcut. Such projects assume that they may avoid the difficulties of life by engaging in a scheme in which the ends have been determined for them. They explicitly pursue a future state of perfection, all the while neglecting the joys and sorrows of our present temporality.

Significantly, the media technologies we use have rapidly turned into compulsions. This is just as their designers intended.42 The rationalist technique has not entirely escaped those involved at the birth of big tech. Facebook’s first president, Sean Parker, even acknowledges that it was designed to act like a drug, by “[giving] you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever”.

The social media companies deliberately exploit vulnerabilities in human psychology. As well as addicting its users, social media contributes to “continuous partial attention”, limiting people’s ability to focus.43 Everyone is distracted all of the time. As well as becoming stupid and inattentive, big tech undermines political democracy with the tyranny of big data. It can alter voters’ beliefs and behaviour “by intentionally and precisely targeting their unconscious cognitive processes”.44

However, it is not all bad news. Some observers wonder whether the social media era may have peaked. Former addicts are attempting to wean themselves off it. Social commentator Nick Bilton considers it the beginning of a massive shift.45

Somewhat belatedly, Western governments have started to pursue the tech monopolists under antitrust laws as well as render them accountable for the material they post. The Senate joint committee hearing into Facebook, Social Media Privacy and the Use and Abuse of Data could lead to the media platform’s breakup.

The truth is that a political project in this big tech form breeds nothing but distraction and moral and ultimately political instability.46 Former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya, like Sean Parker, now feels “guilty” about the socio-political implications of technological manipulation. Musk wants to colonise Mars before robot wars destroy Earth. Chagrin ultimately awaits all those who embark upon such rationalist enterprises.




1 Pico della Mirandola, An Oration on the Dignity of Man (1487; Gateway, Chicago, 1956), p. 3.

2 Thomas More, Utopia (1516; Penguin, London, 1956), p. 84.

3 Francis Bacon, New Atlantis Begun by Lord Verulam (London, 1660), p. 4.

4 Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus (Penguin, London, 1955), p. 11.

5 Interestingly Camus takes his dedication to the Myth from Pindar: “O my soul, do not aspire to immortal life, but exhaust the limits of the possible.”

6 In Genesis 11, 1–9.

7 See E. Dányi and A. Galácz, “Internet and Elections: Changing Political Strategies and Citizen Tactics in Hungary”, Information Polity 10, 2005, pp. 219–32.

8 Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy (Routledge, London, 1962).

9 Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore, War and Peace in the Global Village (Bantam, London, 1968), p. 61.

10 Ibid., p. 190.

11 G. E. Stearn (ed.), McLuhan Hot and Cool (Penguin, London, 1968), p. 336.

12 The cast of the new utopians includes: Peter Thiel, PayPal and Palantir, Elon Musk, Tesla and SpaceX, Ray Kurzweil, Larry Page Google, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook and Instagram, Jeff Bezos, Amazon, Travis Kalinick, Uber, Robert Mercer and Cambridge Analytica.

13 John Thornhill, “Big Tech v Big Brother”, Financial Times Weekend, 19–20 April 2017.

14 Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia (Basic Books, New York, 1974), p. 334.

15 Martin Wolf, “Taming the Masters of the Tech Universe”, Financial Times, 15 November 2017.

16 Ibid.

17 Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake, Capitalism without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2017).

18 Frey, Carl Benedikt and Michael A. Osborne, The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation? (Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Vol. 114, 2017) Accessed online: August 2017, http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_ Employment.pdf.

19 Wilfredo Pareto, “Cours d’économie politique” (Lausanne, 1896). See also Richard Koch, The 80/20 Principle (New York, Doubleday, 1998) and Robert Michels, Political Parties (Berlin, 1911). Michels formulated “the iron law of oligarchy”.

20 Evgeny Morozov, “Why the Internet of Things Could Destroy the Welfare State” (The Observer, Guardian News and Media, 19 July 2014). Accessed online: August 2017, www.theguardian.com/ technology/2014/jul/20/ rise-of-data-death-of-politics-evgeny-morozov-algorithmic-regulation.

21 Nick Bilton, Vanity Fare, November 2017.

22 Daniel C. Dennett, From Bacteria to Bach and Back (London, Allen Lane, 2017).

23 Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus, A Brief History of Tomorrow (London, Vintage, 2016).

24 Nozick, 1974, p. 42.

25 George Zarkadakis, In Our Own Image: Will Artificial Intelligence Save or Destroy Us? (London, Rider, 2015).

26 Nick Bostrom, Superintelligence, Path, Danger, Strategies (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014).

27 Meghan O’Gieblyn, “God in the Machine”, The Guardian, 18 April 2017. See also Mark O’Connell, To Be a Machine (Granta, Cambridge, 2017).

28 Nick Bostrom, “Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?”

29 George Packer, “No Death, No Taxes”, The New Yorker, 28 November 2011.

30 Charlotte Allen, “So You Want To Live Forever”, The Weekly Standard, 12 May 2014.

31 Neil Strauss, “Elon Musk the Architect of Tomorrow”, Rolling Stone, December 2017. The method, Musk explains, requires 1. Ask a question; 2. Gather as much evidence as possible about it; 3. Develop axioms based on the evidence, and try to assign a probability of truth to each one; 4. Draw a conclusion based on cogency in order to determine: Are these axioms correct, are they relevant, do they necessarily lead to this conclusion, and with what probability?; 5. Attempt to disprove the conclusion. Seek refutation from others to further help break your conclusion; 6. If nobody can invalidate your conclusion, then you are probably right.

32 Michael Oakeshott, “Rationalism in Politics”, in Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays (London, Methuen, 1981), pp. 5–6.

33 Ibid., p. 12.

34 Ibid., p. 21.

35 Joao Carlos Espada, The Anglo-American Tradition of Liberty. A View from Europe (London, Routledge, 2016), p. 67.

36 Michael Oakeshott, “Rationalism in Politics”, p. 6.

37 Oakeshott, op. cit., p. 8.

38 Franklin Foer, World Without Mind (Cape, London, 2017), p. 3.

39 Ibid.

40 Roger Scruton, Where We Are: The State of Britain Now (Bloomsbury, London, 2017).

41 Michael Oakeshott, Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays (London; Methuen, 1972), p. 60.

42 Paul Lewis, “Our Minds Can Be Hacked”, The Guardian, 6 October 2017.

43 Ibid.

44 William A. Gorton, “Manipulating Citizens: How Political Campaigns’ Use of Behavioral Social Science Harms Democracy”, New Political Science, 38.1 (2016), pp. 61–80.

45 Nick Bilton,The End of Social Media Cannot Come Soon Enough”, Vanity Fare, 23 November 2017.

46 Oakeshott, “Rationalism…”, p. 74.

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