“Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling, and Charles Dickens wrote about opium smoking in their novels. But if you read the way they describe opium smoking, without a doubt these people never saw the real thing. It’s laughable…What we see in movies, even to this day, with the obligatory London opium-smoking scene is complete fiction.” Interview with a modern-day opium addict.
Several years ago, Jeff Sharlet closely investigated The Fellowship – a “self-described invisible network dedicated to a religion of power for the powerful” – in order to write a book about “how fundamentalism came to be interwoven with American power.” Now, Sharlet has followed up his initial report with an article about Westmont College, a “feeder school” for the religious movement. This is highly recommended reading for anybody interested in the intersections of power, influence, religious fundamentalism, and American politics.
If you read one piece on early computer scientist Alan Turing that’s come out in celebration of his 100th birthday last Saturday (if you were wondering about Friday’s Google Doodle) you might do very well to make it this one in the Atlantic on how his reading of Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution influenced his work and continues to shape the way we work with computers. It’s also about the limits of artificial intelligence.