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The Choice of Modernity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

On the afternoon of April 20, a book club on "Modernity Choices in the Age of Artificial Intelligence" was held in Room 129 of the College of Excellence. The speaker of this book club is Associate Professor Jin Pinghua from the School of Journalism and Communication, Anhui University. She graduated from Fudan University and was a visiting scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The two recommended books for this book club are Andrew Feinberg's The Alternative Modernity and Kurzweil's The Machine in the Age of the Soul: When Computers Surpass Human Intelligence

Book Club Review

Regarding the selection of books.

Is it a "hunger" or a "shock"?

Why are we exploring options in the age of artificial intelligence today? Why do we still read these two books from the last century today? Does reading these two books "shock" us or "fill us up"? The book club began with Ms. Kim Pinghua throwing out these questions to the students in the audience.

She then answered that in an interdisciplinary mindset and in these times, we need to learn to broaden our "disciplinary horizons" and face the "living environment" in which we find ourselves. Regardless of what language or course we take, the books Optional Modernity and Machines in the Age of the Soul: When Computers Surpass Human Intelligence are very important to the students here at the undergraduate level. So, the impact of these two books must be on the mind, because they tell the reader to learn to respect the mind.

On broadening the disciplinary horizon.

Do liberal arts students need to know about AI too?

Secondly she talked about the issue of interdisciplinary perspectives, how to open up interdisciplinary perspectives. In the modern world, any profession is bound to be connected to other professions to varying degrees, because the world is inherently integrated. The modern university, on the one hand, has to train professionals, each with his or her own specialty; on the other hand, when college students are trying to walk in the path of thinkers, they must break down the barriers of specialization, and in the opinion of thinkers, subspecialization is superfluous. In order to confront the problem of human existence head-on, especially in the era of rapid growth of artificial intelligence, an interdisciplinary perspective becomes more and more important. In such a context, students need to think differently about survival, and AI is a good entry point.

Although both books were written in the 20th century and new books by the same author have been published since, the foresight embodied in both books is not to be underestimated even today, which is one of the reasons for choosing them. Students need to learn to look at things dialectically so that they can come up with forward-looking answers to life in a constant refinement.

Ms. Kim Pinghua then went over the more important parts of the two books.

1. On "modernity"

Modernization: Modernization

Modernity: Modernity

Post-modernity: post-modernity

We explored the difference between modernization and modernity: modernity is an attribute of modernization. In sociological analysis, modernization means democratization, legalization, industrialization, urbanization, equalization of wealth, etc. Analyzed on a philosophical level, it means having a rational (reason) spirit: forming concepts, making judgments, analyzing, synthesizing, comparing, reasoning, calculating, etc. Reason also has divergent paths, and we should keep inquiring to explore the real meaning of modernity in order to be more correct about the world of tomorrow.

2. On the "modernity option"

The philosophical dimension of the choice of modernity

Includes: ability to conceptualize, make judgments, analyze, synthesize, compare, reason, and calculate reflective, autonomous, creative, and legislative skills

The sociological dimension of the choice of modernity

Include: medical and health field, transportation field, education field, industry field

Artificial intelligence and soul machines.

Can artificial intelligence sense "love"?

Finally, on the topic of "artificial intelligence", Mr. Kim has sorted out two core questions in the book: What is artificial intelligence? What kind of artificial intelligence is called a soul machine?

Optimistic Kurzweil

Venor Vinge, “It is a point where our models must be discarded and a new reality rules, the super-humanity is the essence of the Singularity.”

“Future machines will be human, even if they are not biological.”

“Evolution moves towards ‘greater complexity, gender elegance, greater knowledge, greater intelligence, greater beauty, greater creativity, and greater levels of subtle attributes such as love.”

The pessimistic Hawking and Musk

“Efforts to create thinking machines pose a threat to our existence. The development of full Artificial Intelligence could spell the end of human race.”


As a hot topic in the last half century, especially in the last decade, artificial intelligence is getting closer and closer to our daily life, AI is mentioned more and more frequently, and if we want to build more in the new era, we must understand AI. The book club was serving as a lead-in, as Kim used two books to provoke us to think about the impact of AI on society. Separate dissection of the choice of modernity in the age of artificial intelligence from the philosophical and social dimensions. Students will be able to observe the world through the development of technology so that they can have more creative opinions in their future inquiries.

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