Professor Bell provides a fascinating, artfully-abbreviated and profoundly well-informed historical survey of the steam, electrical, computational and AI/cyber-physical technological phase transitions of human civilisation. As an anthropologist, she grounds technological systems in the people and places that inhabit them. It is clearly of critical importance to consider the lived experience of a future that remakes us and our experiences, our values and belief systems every bit as much as we make it.
Kevin Kelly raises a question: in the way that steam engines and trains invoked the requirement for unified, integrated notions of time (as articulated here by Professor Bell), will AI necessitate that intelligence itself becomes something more than a generalised abstraction and philosophical concept? Will a diversity of AI systems necessarily hyper-inflate the computational universe of which human intelligence is a component and in this way not diminish our own minds but situate them in a much vaster cartography of intelligence and sentience?