2016 -- Twenty sixteen -- generally regarded as a pretty bad year all around: Celebrities getting killed by old age, illness and substance abuse; long-cherished liberal democracies turning into reality shows etc etc... Rejoice! It is now over!
It wasn't a bad year on this blog though. Nothing spectacular, probably not as a good as 2015, but not awful. Here are the top ten posts going by page views from the past year (ignoring posts from previous years that continue to receive a lot of hits for unknown reasons):
- Reverse Turing Tests: Are Humans Becoming More Machine Like? (July 2016) - This was my attempt to summarise Brett Frischmann's argument for a reverse Turing test, one that will determine whether humans are becoming more like machines (rather than machines more like humans).
- Are we Heading Towards a Singularity of Crime? (March 2016) - My review and analysis of Marc Goodman's book Future Crimes, which introduces a fascinating argument that we are heading for a singularity of crime, but never defends it explicitly. I try to make up for that in this post.
- Technological Unemployment and the Meaning of Life: Should we retreat from reality? (November 2016) - The text of a talk I gave in Germany in early November (the night that Donald Trump got elected to be precise). In it, I argue that we need to take the case for technological unemployment seriously and, more importantly, look for ways to address the deficit in meaning that might be caused by a lack of work. I explore, in particular, the possibility that virtual worlds will provide the necessary meaning.
- The Value of Deep Work and How to Prioritise It (January 2016) - One of my self-helpy blog posts, looking at the ideas in Cal Newport's book Deep Work. I am a fan of the book. It's one of the few self-help books with an underlying philosophy of work that I agree with (though not entirely).
- The Philosophy of Social Constructionism (December 2016) - Lots of people claim that gender and race are socially constructed, but what do they mean by this? This post looked at some philosophical attempts to clarify the answer. Based on the work of Esa Diaz-Leon.
- Competitive Cognitive Artifacts and the Demise of Humanity (September 2016) - This was one of the more fun posts to write. It was my attempt to formalise and critique an argument by David Krakauer. He argued that artificial intelligences posed a threat to humanity because they compete with human intelligence rather than complement it.
- Is Robust Moral Realism a Kind of Religious Belief? (September 2016) - My analysis and critique of David Killoren's claim that non-natural moral realism is a kind of religious belief.
- Is Resistance Futile? Are we already Borg? (January 2016) - My analysis and critique of David Gunkel's argument about human cyborgification. Although I agree with Gunkel that humans are becoming cyborgs, I think his definition and understanding of cyborgification is too limited. I also interviewed David for my podcast. You can listen to that interview here.
- Effective Altruism: A Taxonomy of Objections (January 2016) - The first in a long-ish series of posts about potential objections to effective altruism. The series riffed off Iason Gabriel's excellent article on the topic and ended with a contribution from Iason himself. You can read the full series here.
- Is Death the Sculptor of Life or an Evil to be Vanquished? (July 2016) - Many people have defended the claim that death gives meaning to life, but Davide Sisto has a particularly interesting way of doing it. I review his argument in this post and subject it to some critical analysis.