Digital Worlds

May 2017 Issue

We live, increasingly, in a digital world. This now utterly banal observation may have seemed like science fiction a quarter century ago. Where will we be in another quarter century? It seems like as good a moment as any to take an ethnographic look at the present moment, poised between the real and virtual, on the edge of the Singularity. Here are the detritus of simulated lives and endless digital reproduction: dystopian advertising models, electronic identities, inescapable interconnectivity, enslaving conveniences, and entire collapsed utopian online societies. And yet, the digital world also offers many solutions: egalitarian avenues of communication, artificial intelligence, and pure information, wherever and however we need it. We neither desire nor are able to disconnect, to go back, so digital self-reflection may be essential to finding our collective (interconnected) way forward.

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