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Good Reads  History & Other Humanities  Philosophy, Ethics & Religion

Ways of Being Animals, Plants, Machines: The Search for a Planetary Intelligence

By: James Bridle(Author)
364 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations
Publisher: Penguin Books
Ways of Being
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  • Ways of Being ISBN: 9780141994260 Paperback Mar 2023 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 5 days
Price: £12.99
About this book Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Recent years have seen rapid advances in 'artificial' intelligence, which increasingly appears to be something stranger than we ever imagined. At the same time, we are becoming more aware of the other intelligences which have been with us all along, unrecognized. These other beings are the animals, plants, and natural systems that surround us, and are slowly revealing their complexity and knowledge – just as the new technologies we've built are threatening to cause their extinction, and ours.

In Ways of Being, writer and artist James Bridle considers the fascinating, uncanny and multiple ways of existing on earth. What can we learn from these other forms of intelligence and personhood, and how can we change our societies to live more equitably with one another and the non-human world? From Greek oracles to octopuses, forests to satellites, Bridle tells a radical new story about ecology, technology and intelligence. We must, they argue, expand our definition of these terms to build a meaningful and free relationship with the non-human, one based on solidarity and cognitive diversity. We have so much to learn, and many worlds to gain.

Customer Reviews


James Bridle is the author of the acclaimed New Dark Age, about technology, knowledge and the end of the future. They wrote and presented the BBC Radio 4 series New Ways of Seeing, about how technology is changing visual culture; their writing on art, politics, culture and technology has appeared in magazines and newspapers including the Guardian, Wired, New Statesman, Frieze and ICON. Their artworks have been commissioned by galleries and institutions, including the V&A, Whitechapel, Barbican, Hayward and Serpentine, and exhibited worldwide and on the internet.

By: James Bridle(Author)
364 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations
Publisher: Penguin Books
Media reviews

"Bridle's writing weaves cultural threads that aren't usually seen together, and the resulting tapestry is iridescently original, deeply disorientating and yet somehow radically hopeful. The only futures that are viable will probably feel like that. This is a pretty amazing book, worth reading and rereading."
– Brian Eno

"James Bridle is an artist who is fascinated by technology – creating a homemade self-driving car to understand how AIs "think", for example – and I loved their book, Ways of Being, which looks at artificial and animal intelligence, and how those challenge our assumptions about the world. Come for the slime mould replicating the Tokyo subway system, stay for the non-binary computer that used water to model the British economy."
– Helen Lewis, New Statesman Books of the Year

"Heady and often astonishing [...] the scope of Bridle's curiosity and comprehension is immense [...] there is something hopeful and even heartening in their faith that our current disastrous course might be shifted not only by new policies and technologies but also – and more fundamentally – by the power of new ideas."
– Stefan Merrill Block, New York Times

"If you plan on reading James Bridle's Ways of Being – and I cannot recommend highly enough that you do – you might consider forming a support group first. The ideas in this book are so big, so fascinating and yes, so foreign, you are going to need people to talk to about them [...] Bridle has created a new way of thinking about our world, about being [...] read this important book. Read it twice. Talk about it. Tell everyone you know."
– Brenna Maloney, Washington Post

"It was so interesting that I luxuriated in every word. The conversation unfolding in these pages is fundamentally important and I would recommend it to absolutely everyone who wants to really think and reimagine a future that remains ours to make. I was left with a feeling that James Bridle hasn't so much written a book, as a manifesto for a new Green Enlightenment [...] it made the hair stand up on the back of my neck."
– Sir Tim Smit

"In making clear the patience, imagination and humility required to better know and protect other forms of intelligence on Earth, Bridle has made an admirable contribution to the dawning interspecies age."
The Economist

"Bridle is a clear, artful writer and a sweeping thinker [...] [A] hopeful book, almost an antidote. It imagines technology not as something separate and menacing, but as part of a grand unfolding – an 'efflorescence', to use Bridle's word – along an evolutionary continuum of human and 'more-than-human' ways of being in the world."
– Peter Christie, Post Magazine

"Bridle enlarges our definition of what 'intelligence' can be [...] This book is an expansive guide, helping us turn our gaze outwards as we look for answers to the challenges of our time. The answers are out there, Bridle says, but Western science and imagination are only just beginning to take them seriously. Ways of Being is an absorbing, existential and ultimately hopeful book."
– Elizabeth Wainwright, Geographical

"We must rethink what it means to be intelligent in a spirit of collaboration with non-humans [...] What makes Bridle's book new and interesting is its insistence that AI, rightly used, can help in this project [...] It may not be intelligence as we know it, but it is human, all too human."
– Stuart Jeffries, The Spectator

"James Bridle encourages you to widen the boundaries of your understanding, to contemplate the innate intelligence that animates the life force of octopuses and honeybees as well as apes and elephants. We humans are not alone in having a sense of community, a sense of fun, a sense of wonder and awe at the beauty of nature. Be prepared to re-evaluate your relationship with the amazing life forms with whom we share the planet. Fascinating, innovative and thought provoking I thoroughly recommend Ways of Being."
– Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace

"From what are we alienated? Some kind of godlike being, transcending the physical world? The truth is exactly the opposite [...] Alienation means thinking humans are special and different. James Bridle's wonderful book will make you feel and think the power of knowing how like all other lifeforms we are. There is nothing more important."
– Timothy Morton

"James Bridle's brilliant Ways of Being shows we can only face the challenges of the 21st century if we go beyond the fear of pooling knowledge: Bridle shows the importance of listening to one another and our surroundings, and of creating new forms of community."
– Hans Ulrich Obrist

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