Five thousand years ago objects embodied words for the first time. We are still finding new ways of saying things with them.
It has been a couple of generations since objects first embodied code and data, which are forms of mathematics, and at the same time something of what we think of as minds. We’ll be spending the new few thousand years figuring out what to do with that.
As part of our civilization, we’re all working on this together, with organisms with end user licenses and advertisements smarter than missiles and acres of computers managing themselves and skies that look back at us.
We are barely out of the prehistory of what will be our most complex form of art. We are making huge mistakes, advancing boldly into dead ends, seeing our best ideas catch fire and blow up. If we are at all successful, all we do will be forgotten except by completist historians tracing the web of mistakes that came before we knew how to deal with this strange world of data and living beings, algorithms and art, politics and geophysics, everything bleeding into everything else, sometimes real blood.
Those who come after us will laugh at our naivete, mock our ignorance, be rightly proud of how far ahead they are from us.
But somebody has to make all of these mistakes, and they’ll envy the fun we had.