Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagC.S. Lewis

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Modern glass elevator and escalator in a shopping mall. Empty mall.

Zero K: A Novel About Escaping the World Through Technology

Zero K by novelist Don DeLillo is a frightening but prophetic tale of transhumanism and the temptation to evade suffering at all costs.

Novelist Don DeLillo is perhaps best known for his book White Noise, a story about a professor and his family in Ohio and the repercussions of a toxic waste spill that serves as a metaphor for so much of modern American life and its dangers. The book was adapted into a film starring Adam Driver and eerily preceded the literal toxic spill that occurred near East Palestine, OH on February 3rd earlier this year. Like the characters in White Noise, nearby residents had to flee the area following the catastrophe. Little did I know that DeLillo authored a much newer book called Zero K, a dark, brooding novel about a billionaire, Ross Lockhart, who wants to put his mortally ill Read More ›

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Silhouettes of people observing stars in night sky. Astronomy concept.

Another Non-Computable Trait: Spiritual Longing

You can't program spiritual longing into a computer, not matter how savvy the algorithm.
Why do we feel the drive to make some overarching sense of our lives? You can't program spiritual longing into a computer, not matter how savvy the algorithm. Read More ›
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Travelers together around the campfire, enjoying the fresh air near the tent under the Milky Way in the evening. Silhouettes of two adventurous people camping in the mountains under the starry sky.

Literature and Personal Consciousness: Why AI Can’t Speak to You

AI can never intend meaning like a human author can
One non-computable aspect of great literature is evident: a personal consciousness was responsible for creating it. Read More ›
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Ocean Sunset Rays

Running from TikTok to Baptism and Truth

AI-powered social media is hurting kids, but look at the simultaneous revival happening, writes Robert J. Marks
Even while AI-powered apps addict and enslave so many, Marks thinks God is reaching this generation is a fresh and powerful way. Read More ›
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Armageddon. Nuclear bomb or asteroid impact creates a nuke mushroom

Science as Insight vs. Science as Power

What are the core purposes of science and math? Evaluating the idea of "knowledge as power" in the computer age
With the advent of advanced computing and artificial intelligence, the role of humans in mathematics is getting vague. Read More ›
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Secret bunker meeting

C.S. Lewis’s “That Hideous Strength” is Making the Rounds Again

NYT columnist Ross Douthat offers his two cents on the dystopian classic

Just last week, Mind Matters editor Peter Biles wrote about That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis, a dystopian novel about a fearsome technocracy trying to conquer humanity. New York Times also wanted in on the fun, too, apparently. Ross Douthat, the conservative voice of the Times’ opinion column, published his latest essay on Lewis’s harrowing tale, and examined its modern pertinence. Douthat acknowledges the possibility of a mega-powerful technocracy, but notes how Lewis believed that on the outside, such an organization may look like the face of progress and humanitarianism. Douthat writes, Crucially, almost nobody in Lewis’s invented organization has any idea that in the inner ring they’re contacting the dark powers. Most people think they’re working for humanitarianism and Read More ›

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Forest in fog with mist. Fairy spooky looking woods in a misty day. Cold foggy morning in horror forest with trees

That Hideous Strength, A.K.A. Transhumanism

C.S. Lewis's classic science fiction tale is about the temptation to reject being human

C.S. Lewis’s 1946 science fiction novel That Hideous Strength is almost eighty years old now. Written during the throes of World War II, the novel is the culmination of Lewis’s cosmic trilogy, preluded by Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra. There are hosts of other articles attending to the prescience of Lewis’s terrifying novel, and for good reason; That Hideous Strength is a warning against using technology to dehumanize people and ultimately cripple the world into submission. It’s a great book as a novel, but it seems especially appropriate to revisit in lieu of the growing interest in transhumanism and the rapid acceleration of AI development. It feels like much of the talk on AI in recent months involves Read More ›

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Dark knight illustration, medieval era wizard, fantasy concept. Generative AI

J.R.R. Tolkien on Science Fiction

The master storyteller was more open to sci-fi and tech than the stereotype lets on

In early 2021, literary scholar Holly Ordway published a deep dive into J.R.R. Tolkien’s reading habits. The celebrated author of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit was a linguist and medievalist at Oxford for decades until his death in 1973. Based on his immersion in ancient literature, people often assume that Tolkien despised all things modern – including modern books. Even C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying, “No one ever influenced Tolkien–you might as well try to influence a Bandersnatch.” Today’s conception of Tolkien stereotypically portrays him as a curmudgeon who refused to engage with modernity. Ordway, however, pushes back against such an image and lays out a comprehensive case for Tolkien’s interest in contemporary literature, including the Read More ›

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3D rendering of abstract blocks of mathematical formulas located in the virtual space

Math, Mind, and Matter

The surprising similarities between mathematics and literature

Last October, legendary American author Cormac McCarthy, who wrote Blood Meridian and The Road, released a pair of interconnected novels called The Passenger and Stella Maris. The books arrived after a sixteen-year silence from the desk of McCarthy. The books deal, per usual, with themes of mortality, fate, and the “God question,” and are predictably lyrical, vivid, and dark. But McCarthy plows new ground in these sibling novels. The books are about mathematicians. It’s fiction about math.  The story revolves around the complex relationship between a brother and sister: Bobby and Alicia Western. Bobby is a deep-sea diver with some history in the field of mathematics, while Alicia is a once-in-a-generation math prodigy.  Not Estranged, but Akin After reading these books myself, I marveled at McCarthy’s ability to Read More ›

jinx from arcane

The Moral Genius of Arcane

The show reveals how pursuing knowledge for the sake of greater manipulation, power, and control can open the floodgates of chaos

The 2021 show Arcane, based on the video game League of Legends, is fantastic. The animation style, writing, and world-building all merit its 100 percent scored rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Apart from its entertainment value, which is formidable, Arcane explores the pertinent themes of power, progress, and the promises and pitfalls of technological advancement. It does this without heavy-handedness, “instructing by delighting,” in the words of C.S. Lewis. A Powerful Civilization and a Chaotic Underworld The story takes place in the utopian city of Piltover, which prides itself on its innovations in science, technology, and infrastructure. On the lower edges of the city lies the unruly Zaun, an oppressed underworld overrun with crime and an addictive drug called “Shimmer.” The Read More ›

the lion
Vienna - lion for national library

Michael Aeschliman on C.S. Lewis and Scientism

Aeschliman observes how technological progress and scientific mastery, when it isn't wedded with virtue and moral knowledge, wreaks havoc

Michael D. Aeschliman first wrote The Restoration of Man: C.S. Lewis and the Continuing Case Against Scientism in 1983. It was praised as a remarkable achievement upon its arrival by eminent writers and thinkers like Russell Kirk, Malcolm Muggeridge, and George Gilder. Discovery Institute Press published an expanded and updated edition of the book in 2019, and a recent podcast episode featuring Aeschliman piqued my own interest in the book. Aeschliman writes on the advent of “scientism,” the belief that science is the only viable path to knowledge and should therefore be esteemed above all other disciplines. Such a view leads to the reckless moral relativism and “will to power” that arguably brought about the bloodbaths of the twentieth century, Read More ›

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The surface of Venus, the irregularities of the planet. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

C.S. Lewis and Science Fiction

Sci-fi can reveal that you don't necessarily need to visit Mars to find the bizarre and beautiful

The 20th-century intellectual, novelist, poet, and popular theologian C.S. Lewis was a rare bird. He spent most of his life embedded in the academic world, to which he contributed greatly, but was also a lover of fairy tales and the dystopian. His long-held affection for fantasy and science fiction led him to write some of the most popular fictional works in recent memory, most notably The Chronicles of Narnia and what’s commonly known as the “space trilogy,” though Lewis himself objected to the term “space” as an adequate descriptor of what he viewed as a vibrant and meaningful cosmos. In a more obscure Lewis title, Of Other Worlds, Lewis writes of his appreciation for science fiction and what makes the Read More ›

living forever
Sci-fi fantasy futuristic background art scifi artwork tech technology Architecture digital illustration art wallpaper future concept dystopia cyberpunk

Humans Have Limits. Transhumanists Want to Overcome Them

The prophetic words of C.S. Lewis still strike home today

This article originally appeared as a blog post at Salvo on May 13th, 2022. C.S. Lewis wrote an apt and prophetic line in his book The Abolition of Man that feels even more prescient today: “There is something which unites magic and applied science while separating both from the wisdom of earlier ages. For the wise men of old the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and the solution had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue. For magic and applied science alike the problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of men.” I think it’s safe to say that today, the world’s elites in government, tech, media, and education embody precisely the opposite of Lewis’s understanding Read More ›

lonely human
Lonely Human with water reflection, emotion, sadness  loneliness, depression, mental health, fantasy painting, surreal illustration

Huxley’s Brave New World and the Hard Work of Sadness

A society centered on pleasure has no place for mourning, and so has no room for love

Ninety years ago, Aldous Huxley published his prophetic and incisive Brave New World (1932), a dystopian novel that imagines a society of people intoxicated and controlled, not by state power, but by pleasure. Whereas George Orwell predicted an inevitable totalitarian world government in his novel 1984 (penned in 1949), Huxley proposed that human beings wouldn’t need to be coerced into submission but could be coaxed by the allure of pain-erasing drugs. Both nightmarish visions of the future have already somewhat played out today in American society. The government set up the Disinformation Governance Board in April of 2022, which sounds eerily like the “Ministry of Truth” in Orwell’s 1984. (The board has since disbanded.) Tech companies can track us more Read More ›

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Illustration of spiral arrangement in nature.  Golden Ratio concept

New film: C.S. Lewis as a staunch defender of the mind’s reality

Lewis started out thinking that “the findings of science have concluded that human reason” resulted merely from “natural selection with random mutations… to confer upon humans a reproductive advantage.”

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to spend an evening with famed writer C. S. Lewis, now’s your chance. On November 3, theaters around the United States and Canada will premiere a film titled The Most Reluctant Convert: The Untold Story of C.S. Lewis, and it may be the next best thing to meeting the real Lewis, who died in 1963. Adapted from a one-man stage show by New York actor Max McLean, The Most Reluctant Convert portrays Lewis’s intellectual journey from scientific materialism to idealism to theism to Christianity. It’s a cerebral and “talky” film, but that doesn’t mean it’s slow or boring. Clocking in at just 73 minutes, the film moves briskly and includes plenty of emotion and humor.  (This Read More ›

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mindful nature

Is Mindfulness Losing Its “Shine” These Days?

Maybe, but that’s because it has often been misused. Rightly understood, it’s a blessing

In a recent news release from the University of Buffalo, we learn that mindfulness (meditation and similar practices) were not found to be helpful in managing stress at the time it is happening: Where earlier work in this area suggests how mindfulness may help people manage active stressors, the current paper finds evidence for an opposite response. In the midst of stress, mindful participants demonstrated cardiovascular responses consistent with greater care and engagement. Put another way, they actually were “sweating the small stuff.” Bert Gambini, “Be mindful: Study shows mindfulness might not work as you expect” at University of Buffalo However, the study, which measured the cardiovascular stress response of 1001 volunteers also found, Even more curiously, although the study’s Read More ›

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Atoms and their electron clouds , Quantum mechanics and atomic structure

The Aliens Exist—But Evolved Into Virtual Reality at a Nanoscale

That’s the Transcension Hypothesis, the latest in our series on science fiction hypotheses as to why we don’t see extraterrestrials

Readers will recall that we have been looking at science writer Matt Williams’s analysis of the various reasons that we do not see extraterrestrials except at the movies. Last week, we looked at the Firstborn Hypothesis: We don’t see aliens because they haven’t evolved yet. And, when they do, we must be careful not to harm their development through colonization. This week is a bit of a deeper dive: The extraterrestrials have evolved so far beyond us that perhaps we could not encounter them. … the Transcension Hypothesis ventures that an advanced civilization will become fundamentally altered by its technology. In short, it theorizes that any ETIs that predate humanity have long-since transformed into something that is not recognizable by Read More ›