Can AI Make Us Again a People of the Word?


Can AI Make Us Again a People of the Word?

The featured image for a post titled "Can AI Make Us Again a People of the Word?"

This piece originally appeared in Public Discourse.

In his essay “The Question Concerning Technology,” Martin Heidegger shares the words of the poet Hölderlin: “But where danger is, grows / The saving power also.” In other words, the cure to our cultural maladies can emerge from their very cause, precisely by virtue of the danger’s heightened stakes. This may be our technological situation today. In the rise of artificial intelligence, we may be witnessing the growth of the power that will save us from one of the subtler ailments of our age: the triumph of the image over the word.

At the beginning of man was the word. For it is the gift of language—of the ability to communicate through reason with others—that elevates him above the other animals. Our discursive powers are at the heart of our uniquely political nature; as Aristotle explains in the Politics,

why man is a political animal in a greater measure than any bee or any gregarious animal is clear. For nature, as we declare, does nothing without purpose; and man alone of the animals possesses speech.

Through language, the word relies on and bolsters man’s rationality and sociality—his ability to form ideas and convey them to others.

Continue reading in Public Discourse.

Explore More Policy Areas

InnovationGovernanceNational SecurityEducation
Show All

Stay in the loop

Get occasional updates about our upcoming events, announcements, and publications.