Plato and the Nerd The Creative Partnership of Humans and Technology

Edward Ashford Lee

“In this book, Edward Ashford Lee makes the audacious argument that those who create digital technology have access to an unrivaled creative medium. Technology has developed to the point where the only thing preventing further advancement now appears to be human imagination. In his writing for both numerate technologists and literate humanists, Lee presents a case for engineering—creating technology—as a genuine intellectual and fundamentally artistic activity. Lee contends that the real strength of technology comes from its partnership with humans, which helps to explain why digital technology has been so transformational and freeing.

Lee investigates how engineers create imaginative artificial worlds and give us things we never imagined possible, such as the capacity to carry everything that humans have ever written in our pockets. However, he also makes an effort to challenge the overzealous optimism of some technophiles who insist that everything in the physical world is a computation and that even such intricate phenomena as human intellect are software running on digital data. According to Lee, the chance that nature has restricted itself to methods that fit into our current conception of digital computation is distant, and the evidence supporting it is weak.

According to Lee, artificial intelligence aims to replicate human cognitive abilities in computers, but this significantly underestimates the power of computers. He believes that humankind and technology are coevolving. While we support, develop, and spread the technology itself, it improves our mental and physical capacities. Competition is less likely to occur than complementarity.”