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What can artificial intelligence teach us about the mind? If AI’s underlying concept is that thinking is a computational process, then how can computation illuminate thinking? It’s a timely question. AI is all the rage, and the buzziest AI buzz surrounds adaptive machine learning: computer systems that learn intelligent behavior from massive amounts of data. This is what powers a driverless car, for example.

Selected Writings on Film by Annette Michelson

The celebrated critic and film scholar Annette Michelson saw the avant-garde filmmakers of the 1950s and 1960s as radically redefining and extending the Modernist tradition of painting and sculpture, and in essays that were as engaging as they were influential and as lucid as they were learned, she set out to demonstrate the importance of the underappreciated medium of film.

The Emergence of Video Games in America

Beginning with the release of the Magnavox Odyssey and Pong in 1972, video games, whether played in arcades and taverns or in family rec rooms, became part of popular culture, like television. In fact, video games were sometimes seen as an improvement on television because they spurred participation rather than passivity. These “space-age pinball machines” gave coin-operated games a high-tech and more respectable profile.

Imagination in the Age of the Algorithm

We depend on—we believe in—algorithms to help us get a ride, choose which book to buy, execute a mathematical proof. It’s as if we think of code as a magic spell, an incantation to reveal what we need to know and even what we want. Humans have always believed that certain invocations—the marriage vow, the shaman’s curse—do not merely describe the world but make it. Computation casts a cultural shadow that is shaped by this long tradition of magical thinking.

Without boredom, arguably there is no modernity: the current sense of the word emerged simultaneously with industrialization, mass politics, and consumerism. From Manet onward, when art represents the everyday within modern life, encounters with tedium are inevitable. And from modernism’s retreat into abstraction to subsequent demands placed on audiences from the late 1960s to the present, the viewer’s endurance of repetition, slowness, or other forms of monotony has become an anticipated feature of gallery-going.

How Science is Redefining Humanity

What do computers, cells, and brains have in common? Computers are electronic devices designed by humans; cells are biological entities crafted by evolution; brains are the containers and creators of our minds. But all are, in one way or another, information-processing devices. The power of the human brain is, so far, unequaled by any existing machine or known living being. Over eons of evolution, the brain has enabled us to develop tools and technology to make our lives easier. Our brains have even allowed us to develop computers that are almost as powerful as the human brain itself.

Since the 1970s, the South African artist William Kentridge has charted the turbulent terrain of his homeland in both personal and political terms. With erudition, absurdist humor, and an underlying hope in humankind, Kentridge’s artwork has examined apartheid, humanitarian atrocities, aging, and the ambiguities of growing up white and Jewish in South Africa. This October Files volume bring together critical essays and interviews that explore Kentridge’s work and shed light on the unique working processes behind his drawings, prints, stop-animation films, and theater works.

Currencies of the Contemporary

Since the 1990s, Thai contemporary art has achieved international recognition, circulating globally by way of biennials, museums, and commercial galleries. Many Thai artists have shed identification with their nation; but “Thainess” remains an interpretive crutch for understanding their work. In this book, the curator and critic David Teh examines the tension between the global and the local in Thai contemporary art.

The Terror of Evidence is composed of notes, comments, aphorisms, maxims, and meditations: 191 texts ranging from 3 words to 3 pages, each one titled and all of them addressing a range of topics on everything from "Pathos" to "Passivity," "Beckett" and "Boredom" to "Balance" and "Blow Job," considerations of "Courbet," "Catastrophe," and (Foucault's love of the) "Club Sandwich"—all while engaging with, critiquing, conversing with, and sometimes poking fun at thinkers such as Heidegger, Descartes, Derrida, Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, Adorno, Badiou, Nancy, and many others.

Tales of Dongles, Checks, and Other Money Stuff
Edited by Bill Maurer and Lana Swartz

Museums are full of the coins, notes, beads, shells, stones, and other objects people have exchanged for millennia. But what about the debris, the things that allow a transaction to take place and are left its wake? How would a museum go about curating our scrawls on electronic keypads, the receipts wadded in our wallets, that vast information infrastructure that runs the card networks?

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