Computing and artificial intelligence


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The dilution refrigerator for the IBM Q quantum computer, September 2019. Photo by Graham Carlow/IBM

Essay/
The future
At the limits of thought

Science today stands at a crossroads: will its progress be driven by human minds or by the machines that we’ve created?

David C Krakauer

A screen demonstrates facial-recognition technology at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai, China, on Thursday 29 August 2019. Photo by Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Idea/
Technology and the self
How Confucius loses face in China’s new surveillance regime

Philip Ivanhoe

Recursive design: the Chamber Music Hall in Manchester, by Zaha Hadid Architects, which opened in 2009. Photo by View/Getty

Essay/
Music
Contrapuntal consciousness

The music of Bach is full of suggestive structures of counterpoint and recursion (even if Hofstadter got it quite wrong)

Ilari Kaila

The German artist Gerhard Richter with a panel from his 4900 Colours (2008) at the Serpentine Gallery in London. The seemingly arbitrary distribution of colours was generated using a specially developed computer program. Photo by Shaun Curry/Getty

Idea/
Art
If machines want to make art, will humans understand it?

Rui Penha & Miguel Carvalhais

‘We know more than we can tell’: Traders at the fishmarket auction in Grimsby, England, once the home of the UK’s largest trawler fishing fleet. Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty

Essay/
Economics
Know-how

Market systems have made better use of more information than economic planners. What if AI and machine learning changed that?

Tim Rogan

A screen shows a demonstration of SenseTime Group Ltd’s SenseVideo pedestrian and vehicle recognition system in Beijing, China, on Friday 15 June 2018. Photo by Bloomberg/Getty Images

Essay/
Computing and artificial intelligence
Moral technology

Self-driving cars don’t drink and medical AIs are never overtired. Given our obvious flaws, what can humans still do best?

Paula Boddington

Asterion the Minotaur prowls the streets of Toulouse in the show ‘Le Gardien du Temple’ by La Machine street theatre company, France, 4 November 2018. Photo by Alain Pitton/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Essay/
Future of technology
AlphaGolem

When we pit ourselves against machines, the game can only end in tears. It is in our gift to imagine another way

John Cornwell

Winnie the Pooh by Banksy, displayed at Bonhams’ inaugural US auction of urban art on 24 October 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Tibrina Hobson/WireImage/Getty

Essay/
Future of technology
Calculating art

Artistic success takes a mysterious mix of talent, luck and timing. But could algorithms now predict and produce the hits?

Hannah Fry

An original French billboard poster for Frankenstein by artist Jacques Faria (1931). Public Domain

Essay/
Computing and artificial intelligence
Godmother of intelligences

Mary Shelley foresaw that artificial intelligence would be made monstrous, not by human hubris but by human cruelty

Eileen Hunt Botting

Photo by Christopher Anderson/Magnum

Essay/
Future of technology
Sim ethics

Say you could make a thousand digital replicas of yourself – should you? What happens when you want to get rid of them?

Philip Ball