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.
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.
"There's a new breed of thinkers – people who've grown up through the collapse of an old order and are looking at the first shoots of a very different future. James Bridle is right at the front of this thinking. His 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 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
"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
"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