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Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

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Sally Davies

Edited by Sally Davies

Essay/
Automation & Robotics
Robot says: Whatever

What stands in the way of all-powerful AI isn’t a lack of smarts: it’s that computers can’t have needs, cravings or desires

Margaret Boden

Essay/
Physics
Out of nowhere

Does everything in the world boil down to basic units – or can emergence explain how distinctive new things arise?

Paul Humphreys

Essay/
Technology & the Self
The quantified heart

Artificial intelligence promises ever more control over the highs and lows of our emotions. Uneasy? Perhaps you should be

Polina Aronson & Judith Duportail

Essay/
Human Rights
Speaking on behalf of …

In the tapestry of diverse social groups, the loudest and most extreme get heard. To whom should we actually listen?

Holly Lawford-Smith

Essay/
Ethics
Life on the slippery Earth

Aztec moral philosophy has profound differences from the Greek tradition, not least its acceptance that nobody is perfect

Sebastian Purcell

Essay/
Gender & Sexuality
Black. Queer. Born again

Black life is world-making, born of gaps and dislocations, imaginative leavings and returns, generative escapes and arrivals

Ashon Crawley

Essay/
Mental Health
When the self slips

Individuals living with depersonalisation disorder bring vivid insight to the question of whether the self is an illusion

Anna Ciaunica & Jane Charlton

Essay/
Physics
Going nowhere fast

After the success of the Standard Model, experiments have stopped answering to grand theories. Is particle physics in crisis?

Ben Allanach

Essay/
Gender & Sexuality
The revolutionary sex

For one shining moment, being a Russian woman meant sexual freedom and radical equality. Never seen before – or since

Paula Erizanu

Essay/
Future of Technology
Do platforms work?

The distributed network has gobbled the hierarchical firm. Only by seizing the platform can workers avoid digital serfdom

George Zarkadakis

Essay/
History of Science
Behold: science as seeing

One astronomer’s dimpled pie is another’s cratered moon. How can our mind’s eye learn to see the new and unexpected?

Gene Tracy

Essay/
Medical Research
Viral rescue

When antibiotics fail, could phage therapy succeed? The germ’s-eye view of infection might open up revolutionary treatments

Emily Monosson

Essay/
History of Science
What is good science?

Demanding that a theory is falsifiable or observable, without any subtlety, will hold science back. We need madcap ideas

Adam Becker

Essay/
Law & Justice
Facing time

Behind bars in Texas, I saw masculinity in all its violence and vulnerability. Was this the war that men had primed me for?

Steven Powers

Essay/
Race
How to see race

Race is a shapeshifting adversary: what seems self-evident takes training to see, and twists under political pressure

Gregory Smithsimon

Essay/
Political Philosophy
A history of alienation

In the postwar period it was understood to be the fundamental malaise of modern life. Why aren’t we ‘alienated’ any more?

Martin Jay