Singular Creatures: Robots, Rights, and the Politics of Posthumanism (Hardcover)

Singular Creatures: Robots, Rights, and the Politics of Posthumanism By Mark Kingwell Cover Image

Singular Creatures: Robots, Rights, and the Politics of Posthumanism (Hardcover)


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Anxiety about non-human intelligent machines is a longstanding theme of cultural production and consumption. Examples range from tales of golems and Frankenstein’s monster to the evil overlord scenarios of contemporary film and television franchises: Star Trek, the Alien series, and the Terminator sequence, as well as Her, Black Mirror, Blade Runner, Ex Machina, and many other less mainstream cultural artifacts. The source of this anxiety is clear. Non-human conscious entities may turn out to be superior to any biological form of life, allowing a stride across human ambition in a moment dubbed “the Singularity” by AI insiders. This is the turning point when non-human entities advance and reproduce in a manner that surpasses and subjugates biological forms of intelligent life. Although today’s artificial intelligences fall notably short of this level of sophistication, Mark Kingwell argues that we are already more than human in important ways, and likely to become more so as time goes on. In Singular Creatures Kingwell plumbs the depths of cultural and political meaning in the apparent transition to posthuman life. Our immersion in technology, now comprehensive to the point of invisibility, has altered forever what it means to be alive. The politics of posthumanism flow directly from our own situation, at once dependent on technology and afraid of its effects on current and future experiences. More than a century after playwright Karel Capek coined the word robot – rooted in the Czech robota, meaning “servitude” or “drudgery” – in his 1920 allegory about the alienation of forced labour leading to a violent workers’ revolt, Capek’s central question continues to haunt us. Can humans and their own creations co-exist in a new cyberflesh world, or is a struggle for superiority inevitable? Singular Creatures is an attempt at sketching the field before any deadly battle is joined.
Mark Kingwell, author of Wish I Were Here: Boredom and the Interface and co-author of The Adventurer’s Glossary, is professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto and a contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine.
Product Details ISBN: 9780228014348
ISBN-10: 0228014344
Publisher: McGill-Queen's University Press
Publication Date: October 15th, 2022
Pages: 240
Language: English
“Covering topics ranging from John Carpenter’s They Live to Trump and the storming of the Capitol, Kingwell makes an original argument about the nature of the continuum between humans and machines, grounding his inquiry and discussion in philosophy and humanism.” Douglas Rushkoff, author of Team Human

”Singular Creatures is a guide to technological development, the cultural fantasies that surround it, and the philosophical questions that emerge. Kingwell does an excellent job of teasing out technical questions and elaborating what their consequences will be. In the case of AI, this is particularly difficult.” Stephen Marche, author of The Next Civil War: Dispatches from the American Future

The Inaugural Santa Fe Literary Festival was a huge success!

Collected Works was very proud to have been on-site all weekend as the official bookstore of the Santa Fe Festival. Bestselling, prizewinning authors and literary legends like Margaret Atwood, Joy Harjo, Colson Whitehead, Sandra Cisneros, Jon Krakauer, amongst others, spent time in our mini-bookstore in the lobby of the Convention Center and signed hundreds of books, which we now have in stock. So if you missed the festival but are looking for a signed copy of one of their books, please call us or come in to browse.

Purchase your books by festival authors directly from CW below:

Margaret AtwoodFreddie BitsoieSandra CisnerosLynn ClineWilliam deBuysAshley FordJohn GrishamRoshi Joan HalifaxJoy HarjoAnne HillermanCheryl Alters JamisonCraig JohnsonAsma KhanPhil KlayJon KrakauerValeria LuiselliDeborah MadisonEmily St. John MandelGeorge R. R. MartinJames McGrath MorrisSarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich of Honey & Co.Carmella Padilla   Douglas PrestonKirstin Valdez QuadeBob ShacochisHenry ShukmanHampton SidesBryant TerryDarryl Lorenzo WellingtonColson WhiteheadDon WinslowLawrence Wright