Are ‘you’ just inside your skin or is your smartphone part of you?

In November 2017, a gunman entered a church in Sutherland Springs in Texas, where he killed 26 people and wounded 20 others. He escaped in his car, with police and residents in hot pursuit, before losing control of the vehicle and flipping it into a ditch. When the police got to the car, he was …

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For the full life experience, put down all devices and walk

Pedestrian: a word fitted to the most drab, tedious and monotonous moments of life. We don’t want to live pedestrian lives. Yet maybe we should. Many of history’s great thinkers have been pedestrians. Henry David Thoreau and William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Walt Whitman, Friedrich Nietzsche and Virginia Woolf, Arthur Rimbaud, Mahatma Gandhi, William …

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The AI revolution will be led by toasters, not droids

Will the intelligent algorithms of the future look like general-purpose robots, as adept at idle banter and reading maps as they are handy in the kitchen? Or will our digital assistants look more like a grab-bag of specialised gadgets – less a single chatty masterchef than a kitchen full of appliances? If an algorithm tries …

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How to tell the difference between persuasion and manipulation

Calling someone manipulative is a criticism of that person’s character. Saying that you have been manipulated is a complaint about having been treated badly. Manipulation is dodgy at best, and downright immoral at worst. But why is this? What’s wrong with manipulation? Human beings influence each other all the time, and in all sorts of …

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Say goodbye to the information age: it’s all about reputation now

There is an underappreciated paradox of knowledge that plays a pivotal role in our advanced hyper-connected liberal democracies: the greater the amount of information that circulates, the more we rely on so-called reputational devices to evaluate it. What makes this paradoxical is that the vastly increased access to information and knowledge we have today does …

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Knight Centre for Journalism. University of Texas/Flickr

How the dearly departed could come back to life – digitally

Cover: Knight Centre for Journalism. University of Texas/Flickr You wake up, get ready for work, have some toast and coffee with your spouse, then wave goodbye. It’s your typical workday. There is, however, something unusual: your beloved has been dead for many years. You didn’t have breakfast with your spouse – but rather with a …

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Overvaluing confidence, we’ve forgotten the power of humility

‘If I only had a little humility, I’d be perfect,’ the media mogul Ted Turner supposedly said sometime in the 1990s, in a moment of narcissistic exuberance. While Turner has been much humbler since, today’s breed of tech entrepreneurs often display a similar arrogance. Why be humble? After all, Aristotle said: ‘All men by nature …

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