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New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,343 ratings  ·  194 reviews
How the Information Age destroys knowledge

We live in times of increasing inscrutability. Our news feeds are filled with unverified, unverifiable speculation, much of it automatically generated by anonymous software. As a result, we no longer understand what is happening around us. Underlying all of these trends is a single idea: the belief that quantitative data can provid
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 17th 2018 by Verso (first published 2018)
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Nosemonkey You skipped the chapter on conspiracy theories, then?

The whole point of this book is that the networked world is too unwieldy for anyone to control, a…more
You skipped the chapter on conspiracy theories, then?

The whole point of this book is that the networked world is too unwieldy for anyone to control, and that this wasn't deliberate - though plenty are exploiting it.

Which is actually even more worrying...(less)

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 ·  1,343 ratings  ·  194 reviews

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Jan 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book had some real bright spots--the introduction was riveting and made me giddy about the book's possibilities. But it did not meet expectations. I've been waiting for a philosophical take on the internet age (the Neil Postman of the era) to tell us how the medium has changed the message and structure of modern life. The introductory thoughts of the book were as close as I've seen anyone get. The other books about the internet age are all the same--it's killing our brains and attention or ...more
Alexandre Coates
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I cannot sing the praises of this book enough, it is the kind of thing I have long wanted to read, and here it is, better thought out than I could have hoped. I have thought over many of the topics in this book before, and was still inspired by the richness of thought on display.

The book covers, in readable and clear prose, the various ways technology not only works, but encourages us to think. How by asserting that technology is 'neutral' we blind ourselves to its origins and its aims. Beyond
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
tour of the dark and surreal media and digital landscape that envelops us. We are in a world of conspiracy theories. Breakdown of knowledge and action. A world where everybody knows what is going on be climate change, Oligarchy, corruption, stultification, savage inequalities, dumbing down but nobody has a clue about what to do. Dispiriting look at our moment.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Based on the title NEW DARK AGE alone, we might well go in expecting author James Bridle to take on the roll of canary in the coalmine. If carbon ideologues cannot stop carping on their mandate to keep the lights turned on, we might expect Bridle to perhaps paint a picture of an encroaching world in which our thoughtless burning of fossil fuels has made it so that our lights cannot stay on anymore. This is not, in fact, the actual meaning of Bridle's iteration of "dark world." It is less a matte ...more
Bryan Alexander
I started James Bridle's New Dark Age thinking it was another entry in the recent spate of "techlash" books. The subtitle, Technology and the End of the Future, is a hint. And the book does follow the tradition laid out by Carr, Morozov, Zuboff, Lanier, etc... yet it also heads in some very different directions.

tl;dr version - I thought this was going to target Silicon Valley, but instead the book reaches more broadly, seeing our world entering a confused, flailing epoch because of many forces,
Artem Gordin
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
I can't say it's a good book, but "New Dark Age" raises questions so important and I enjoyed it so much that I feel necessary to rate it highly. Just like its subject – the interconnected cloud/network – it sprawls in multiple directions at once and doesn't present an easily discernible narrative for a moderately educated person like me, but reads more like a collection of thoughts and approaches inspired by a common underlying philosophy.
Because of this, the book will probably seem too basic fo
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
‘Tech stuff’, actually not my cup of tea which is probably a very stupid thing to say in 2018 where every aspect of our lives is in one way or another influenced by ‘the internet’ and ‘technology’ and ‘artificial intelligence’. Global financial capitalism would in this form not be possible without it. And maybe that’s part of what the book ‘The new dark age’ (VERSO, 2018) is about. As the world around us increases in technological complexity, our understanding of it becomes less. The underlying ...more
Nov 01, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately, I have not seen fulfilled the promises of the introduction. It could have been a great read was it not mainly consisting of a number of unremarkable remarks about the advance of technology.
M. Nasiri
From social media addiction to fake news to mass surveillance, new technologies have changed our lives, our societies, and even our planet – often, in ways we hadn’t initially anticipated.

Once hailed as the harbingers of a new enlightenment, the internet and other important tools of our networked world seem to have engendered new genres of social and political division, violence and abuse, misinformation and conspiracy theory. Amidst a sea of information, we seem to be plunging into a new dark a
Paulo Reis
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2019
If the Talking Cricket would write a book about information technology, this would be it.
Divided in thematic chapters, each one on a specific view/topic on how information systems is transforming the world and ourselves, the author presents a critical reflection on the dangers of the optimistic view of technology as the panacea for all problems.
From climate change to biased AI or Twitter automatic account bots driving discussions and results on Brexit and US elections, the book presents a world
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
an unfocused look at how technology and modernity are making things worse. A lot of the argument centers around complexity and computers and the internet and what it is doing to our minds, our economy, and our society. Very eclectic and very much a critique 0f the current scene but doesn't hang together very well kind of sprawling in what it looks at.
Jonathan Hinckley
As hellish as it is brilliant. Some kind of information age necronomicon which has left me checking flight scanners and searching for the monolithic, unmarked data centres of Slough.
The book examines the simultaneous unwieldiness and un-accountability of information technologies as they grow ever into our lives: the duality of their invisibility and daunting physicality, their opacity and transparency. Spanning (among others) climate change, finance-capitalism and the military industrial comple
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Following James Bridle's work for years the book is a compelling residue of his thinking and visions. Very well written and providing the food for thought you expect from Bridle.

For people new to his work, this will introduce you to the impact of technology on our society and beyond. It will make you think, and hopefully stimulate to keep thinking. The book is the perfect ammunition.
Jim Razinha
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to find out what Bridle had to say because I've been calling the rightwing draconian control backwards trends in the US the "New Dark Ages" for years now. This took a bit to work into...the read is easy, but Bridle was inconsistent, exaggerative and repetitive. Still, what he has to say is scary. Bridle opens with
‘If only technology could invent some way of getting in touch with you in an emergency,’ said my computer, repeatedly.
Following the 2016 US election result, along with several
Adrian Buck
Feb 06, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pol-econ
Each chapter starts with a c-word; Chasm, Computation, Climate etc. Sometimes the c-word seemed an appropriate label, sometimes another c-word would have been better; Capital instead of Complexity, Covert ops instead of Complicity. Sometimes the c-word seems to have no connection with the chapter at all: Concurrency was largely about the doleful effects of abandoning toddlers in front of Youtube (perhaps something the busy parent and writer is occassionally forced to do). I wondered if the c-wor ...more
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
New Dark Age explores how humans amidst a sea of information seem to be plunging into a new dark age; ranging in topics from climate change to mass surveillance to child abuse, New Dark Age reveals some of the darker sides of the digital age.

The author examines that big data fallacy that encourages quantity over quality is palpable in all of science. While the number of scientific studies, journals, and papers has been steadily increasing over the past decades, so has the number of mistakes, pl
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: prolotics
For me, this was the perfect nexus of three loves: the internet, lovecraftian horror, and the absence of neutrality.

I can see two ways this book could fail you: if you wanted a purely existential speculation on the effect of ever-dominating technology has on the concept of the Self, or if you wanted a diagnoses of where tech has gone wrong. This book gives you neither, because it gives you both.

I was repeatedly reminded of Thacker's "Horror of Philosophy" trilogy, where we start by taking horr
Jun 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Must read
Jul 27, 2018 rated it liked it
A little too heavy on the metaphor sometimes, with examples that felt a little stretched, but an overwhelmingly clear message that technology and an explosion of data aren't moving us forward as a society by default.
Feb 16, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The only positive thing I can say about this book is that it's short. While the author (mostly) does an adequate job of pointing out subjects worth thinking about, every conclusion he reaches is wrong. What he calls computational thinking is at the basis of every evil that plagues human society, no matter how much he has to squeeze and mutilate the facts. While the earlier chapters at least are written in an understandable, if jargon-filled style, the latter chapters (especially chapters 9 and 1 ...more
eve massacre
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wholeheartedly recommend this beautifully written cross-disciplinary argument about how computational thinking has lead to a false sense of knowability-via-data and a lack of action
and about how we need a more "cloudy thinking", a way of thinking that is based in the here and now, and which is systematic as well as it embraces a loss of certainty.
Raghavendra Selvan
Timely, cautionary, work analysing the influence of unprecedented access to information, in an increasingly networked world. Attempts to answer mind boggling questions of today such as why there is collapse of consensus and an epidemic of conspiracies, globally. Highly recommended.
Will have more to say about this one soon.
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not an optimistic book. It highlights our inability to sensible or fairly use the incredible tech we have around us, drawing parallels between data and oil: we keep on using it, to the advantage of a few but to the disadvantage of most. Unfortunately, it’s not big on solutions, so having recognised the problem(s), I’m not sure where we(‘re meant to) go from here.
Sergey Bir
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is seriously gloomy.
Gathering lots of data should have allowed us to see the world more clearly so we could overcome our dark side but instead it can be used to blind us, manipulate us, dehumanize our environment. We are overwhelmed with complexity and crude information and desperately need wisdom and kindness.

Cha Blasco
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Highly inspiring book.
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
I LOVE this book even though it terrifies me. James Bridle draws damning parallels between seemingly very unrelated things like surprise egg videos on YouTube and the proliferation of fake news. He makes fascinating points, like that oppressive imperialist policies are encoded in the physical framework of data structures. He explores highly intriguing shit like weather manipulation and secret deportation flights. Extremely thought-provoking and even fairly accessible!
Kim Plowright
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mapping connections between technology, the network, the weather, and the way we think of ‘computing’ as other, un-human. Not hopeful, but full of a mesh of thoughts and linkages. What does it mean to have your head in the cloud?
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Provides a framework to properly place all the confused feelings and thoughts I’ve had about our bad, uncanny future. Essential reading.
Stuart Ross
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Prometheus had a brother: his name was Epimetheus. In Greek mythology it was Epimetheus’s job to assign unique qualities to all the creatures; it was he who gave the gazelle its speed, and compensated by giving strength to the lion. But Epimetheus, being forgetful, runs out of positive traits before he gets to humans, and it is left to Prometheus to steal fire and art from the gods in order to give them something to get by with. This power and artfulness – the Greek tekhnē, from which we derive ...more
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“Thus paranoia in an age of network excess produces a feedback loop: the failure to comprehend a complex world leads to the demand for more and more information, which only further clouds our understanding – revealing more and more complexity that must be accounted for by ever more byzantine theories of the world. More information produces not more clarity, but more confusion.” 3 likes
“All contemporary computation stems from this nexus: military attempts to predict and control the weather, and thus to control the future.” 1 likes
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