“Rewriting our global culture”

A link to this Edge photo album just arrived in my inbox:

Every year since 1999, we have hosted The Edge Annual Dinner (sometimes referred to as “The Billionaire’s Dinner”). Guests have included the leading third culture intellectuals of our time, dining and conversing with the founders of Amazon, AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, PayPal, Space X, Skype, and Twitter. It is a remarkable gathering of outstanding minds—the people who are rewriting our global culture.

Two things come to mind.  First is that Edge, and therefore the Billionaire’s Dinner, is an initiative of John Brockman and Katinka Matson, widely regarded as the most influential literary agents in scientific publishing.  They have been responsible for a vast number of books, many of them excellent, but the association between scientific publishing and billionaires naturally makes me nervous.

The second thing, related to the first, is that bits and bytes, many of them embedded in human beings, are being written out of “our” global culture without being consulted on whether or not they want to be rewritten.  This is a form of technological determinism, and it makes me nervous, to say the least, that what passes for democracy in this process is reduced to mediation by the market.

Enjoy the photos!

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