(Roughly) Daily

“Insofar as we have power over the world and over one another, we must learn to do what the leaf and the whale and the wind do of their own nature.”*…

James Bridle’s remarkable new book, Ways of Being-Animals, Plants, Machines: The Search for a Planetary Intelligence, explores the many types of intelligences that exist in the more-than-human world around us. In a fascinating interview with Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, Bridle elaborates…

I knew, setting out to do this, that I would have to at some point, as a writer about intelligence, define what I meant by intelligence. But I was very frustrated by the lack of what seemed to me to be clear, good definitions of what it is we’re all talking about. You can get all these lists of what people mean when they talk about intelligence, and it’s a kind of grab bag of different qualities that changes all the time: things like planning, counterfactual imagining or coming up with scenarios, theories of mind, tool use, all these different qualities. People pick from them according to whatever their particular field is, but they all come from a human perspective. That seemed to me to be what actually united almost all our common discussions about intelligence: that it was just whatever humans did. And so all our discussions about other potential forms of intelligence, other intelligences that we encountered in the world, or intelligences that we imagined, were all framed in terms of how we understood ourselves and our own thinking. It really struck me that this became an incredibly limiting factor in how we were thinking about intelligence more broadly—and not just intelligence, really, but all relationships we have in the world that are so often mediated by our own intelligence. On the one hand this has restricted our ability to recognize the intelligences of other beings—and I think we’ll probably come to that—but it’s also deeply shaped our history of technology, and particularly AI…

So much more at: “An Ecological Technology– An Interview with James Bridle“; @jamesbridle in @emergence_zine.

* Ursula K. Le Guin, The Farthest Shore


As we investigate intelligence inclusively, we might recall that it was on this date in 1878 that the first telephone directory was issued. Consisting of a single piece of cardboard, it listed 50 individuals, businesses, and other offices in New Haven, Connecticut that had telephones.  There were, as readers will note on the photo below, no numbers, as callers had to be connected by an operator.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

February 21, 2023 at 1:00 am

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