Welcome to the Convivial Society, a newsletter about technology and culture. This is the audio version of the last installment, which focused on the Blake Lemoine/LaMDA affair. I argued that while LaMDA is not sentient, applications like it will push us further along toward a digitally re-enchanted world. Also: to keep the essay to a reasonable length I resorted to some longish footnotes in the prior text version. That version also contains links to the various articles and essays I cited throughout the piece.
I continue to be somewhat flummoxed about the best way to incorporate the audio and text versions. This is mostly because of how Substack has designed the podcast template. Naturally, it is designed to deliver a podcast rather than text, but I don’t really think of what I do as a podcast. Ordinarily, it is simply an audio version of a textual essay. Interestingly, Substack just launched what, in theory, is an ideal solution: the option to include a simple voiceover of the text, within the text post template. Unfortunately, I don’t think this automatically feeds the audio to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc. And, while I don’t think of myself as having a podcast, some of you do access the audio through those services. So, at present, I’ll keep to this somewhat awkward pattern of sending out the text and audio versions separately.
Thanks as always to all of you who read, listen, share, and support the newsletter. Nearly three years into this latest iteration of my online work, I am humbled by and grateful for the audience that has gathered around it.