Author Archives

Synthesis is appropriation

In contemporary society, we make use of the notion that things may be synthetic. Thus we may speak of synthetic biology, “synthesizers” (synthetic sound), synthetic textile etc. Such things are supposed to be artificial and not come from “nature”. However, the Greek root of the word synthesis actually seems to refer to the conjoining of […]

Rice fields and rain

Humans primarily live in a world of beings, each of which has meaning. Meaningful beings appear to us interconnected, referencing practices and other beings in a referential totality. Buttons suggest pushing, chairs suggest sitting, a tractor suggests farming. A (Japanese) rice paddy may suggest the heavy labour that goes into the rice harvest each year, […]

Reading shelf, September 2016

Currently reading: C.G. Jung: Nietzsche’s Zarathustra (vol. 2) (seminar notes) J.G. Ballard: Empire of the Sun (fiction) Eric Hobsbawm: Age of Extremes (nonfiction)   Just finished: J.G. Ballard: Extreme Metaphors (interviews) Ursula K. LeGuin: The Earthsea Quartet (fiction)    

AI and the politics of perception

Elon Musk, entrepreneur of some renown, believes that the sudden eruption of a very powerful artificial intelligence is one of the greatest threats facing mankind. “Control of a super powerful AI by a small number of humans is the most proximate concern”, he tweets. He’s not alone among silicon valley personalities to have this concern. To reduce the […]

The minimal genome of Craig Venter’s Syn3.0

The J Craig Venter Institute has published a paper detailing the genome of their new Syn3.0 synthetic organism. The major accomplishment was to construct a viable cell with a synthetic, extremely small genome: only 473 genes and about 500 kbp. Even though it is considered to be fully “synthetic”, this genome is not built from […]