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About the Author

Mark Coeckelbergh is Professor of Media and Technology in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Vienna.

Works by Mark Coeckelbergh

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Geschichte reparieren. — Inteerviewee — 1 copy


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Self-Improvement by Mark Coeckelbergh is a very compelling look at our current position as a society with respect to artificial intelligence (AI) largely through our interactions with social media.

The reader is walked through both a history of self-improvement from ancient times until now as well as the role of technology in that project. As the discussion approaches our current state, we begin to see that many things we might question do indeed fall under this larger umbrella. The common complaints we voice tend toward lamenting the lack of face-to-face interpersonal interaction, the intrusion of technology (always being connected) into our lives (are we ever really not at work?). In fact, since simply using our devices generates income for those already well off, we are indeed always at work, just unpaid work that tends toward being manipulative.

While at the beginning of the chapters that present a path out of our crisis Coeckelbergh admits that most of what we read might imply he is against AI and related technology (most of the first chapters are pretty pessimistic) he is not. What he sees as a solution to change the technology to suit a more relational approach to life. Less competing in a race where there is no winner, less of a zero-sum approach to every aspect of life. So if you feel overwhelmed by the pessimism, keep reading. Things may look bad, may even at times appear hopeless, but if enough people take back what is ours, namely our activities and our "data" that is being used (or in my opinion weaponized) to manipulate and maintain the status quo we can effect change.

This is one of those short books that can be tempting to read quickly. Don't. Think about his points and his examples. Reread some sections to make sure you caught the nuance. In other words, interact with the text, don't just read it. The more you do that the more, I think, you'll see some of your own concerns echoed from a different perspective. So many things are connected, which is part of what makes change difficult.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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pomo58 | Jan 12, 2022 |



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