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Re-Enchantment Cosmologies: Mastery and Obsolescence in an Intelligent Universe

From: Anthropological Quarterly
Volume 85, Number 4, Fall 2012
pp. 1069-1088 | 10.1353/anq.2012.0055

Abstract

Abstract:

Following modernity’s founding dream of human mastery over the natural world, scientific discoveries produced a picture of an infinite, random, and indifferent universe, thus paradoxically revealing the utter insignificance of the “master/dreamer.” Recently, the convergence of a number of extreme technoscientific projects—AI, Nanotechnology, Life Extension—has activated science-based cosmological visions in which humans and their “intelligence” are given a central purpose in the unfolding of the universe. The movement formed around the event-horizon of the Singularity is the most well-known version of these re-enchantment cosmologies. Yet this re-enchantment only serves as a prelude to an obsolescence: humans are here to give rise to other, better minds, a prospect that makes Singularitarians restless with both fear and exhilaration.