Kit Wilson

Who’s afraid of organoid intelligence?

For fans of bioethical nightmares, it’s been a real stonker of a month. First, we had the suggestion that we use comatose women’s wombs to house surrogate pregnancies. Now, it appears we might have a snazzy idea for what to do with their brains, too: to turn them into hyper-efficient biological computers. Lately, you see, techies have

2022 and the Revenge of the Real 

Do you get that alarming feeling, right now, that everything is suddenly, rapidly, falling apart?  At the same time, does everything also feel strangely less real to you, as though modern life were just one big, phoney act – a performative parade of political spin, sloganeering, social-media campaigning, simulated outrage, and petty culture war point-scoring? These two things

The Wellcome Collection’s war on itself

If you, like me, have an unhealthy taste for depressing news, then you’ll have already heard about the Wellcome Collection’s decision to close its Medicine Man exhibition last weekend. The display, which featured an extraordinary range of unusual medical artefacts collected by the entrepreneur Henry Wellcome (1853-1936), has been permanently shut on the grounds that

The apocalypse complex

Just in case there’s an apocalypse, the super-rich are buying bunkers. Big bunkers. Bunkers with swimming pools, indoor gardens, cinemas, and, in the case of Peter Thiel’s proposed New Zealand hideout, a meditation room — a vital amenity in the advent of a nuclear war. Ever since the invasion of Ukraine, with Putin threatening to

Cracking consciousness: how do our minds really work?

With scientists mapping our neurons in ever greater detail, and companies like Google claiming they’re close to creating human-level artificial intelligence, the gap between brain and machine seems to be shrinking — throwing the question of consciousness, one of the great philosophical mysteries, back into the heart of scientific debate. Will the human mind —

Will our future lives be like a video game?

A few years ago, the software company Owlchemy Labs released a computer game called Job Simulator. Its premise was simple. Players find themselves in a future world, roughly 30 years from now, in which super-efficient robots have snaffled up all the jobs. No longer needed for work, humans entertain themselves instead by donning virtual reality

The rise of the neoclassical reactionaries

A strange new ideology has been growing over the last few years, you might have noticed — amid the day-to-day chaos — the slow, proto-planet-like formation. Currently, it has no name, nor an obvious leader. Its many thousands of proponents do not even seem, yet, to consider each other fellow-travellers. But to the onlooker, they’re clearly

Lionel Shriver, Kit Wilson, Peter Hanington, Robert Porter

28 min listen

On this week’s episode, we’ll hear from Lionel Shriver on how the Biden Administration’s border policies are a gift for Trump and the Republicans. (00:52) Then Kit Wilson on what we can expect from Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse. (09:53) Third, it’s Peter Hanington talking about his love of haikus. (18:48) And finally, Robert Porter’s notes on

There’s one obvious question about immigration, but nobody is asking it

If you were to close your eyes at any debate on immigration, you might reasonably picture the participants standing back-to-back, shouting and gesticulating to opposite corners of the room. On such occasions, there’s typically only one point on which everyone actually agrees: that very highly skilled migrants – doctors, engineers, scientists – are welcome here

Superbad: Joe Biden’s plummeting presidency

41 min listen

In this week’s episode: Has the Biden Presidency stalled or crashed? In our cover story this week, Freddy Gray assesses the state of the Biden presidency. With steadily lowering approval ratings, a disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal, and this week’s failure of the Democrats to hold on to the Virginia Governorship, how much trouble is the US’s

Are we ready for the metaverse?

Facebook has rebranded itself as Meta and last month chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced the creation of 10,000 jobs to help build the ‘metaverse’ — a concept so radical nobody yet knows what it really is. People in the media tend to describe it as ‘a 3D version of the internet’. Facebook describes it rather

We need to talk about transhumanism

This weekend, hundreds of people from across the globe will gather in Madrid to discuss how to turn themselves into a new species. The occasion is TransVision, the world’s biggest annual meet-up of transhumanists — and probably the most important intellectual summit you’ve never heard of. This year, anti-ageing specialist Aubrey de Grey will explain

BBC sports coverage is becoming unwatchable

Back when I was a kid, just before the internet flattened the world, I spent my Saturday afternoons listening to live football on the radio. The signal came and went, voices bobbed up above the waves of static and sank back down into their crackly depths, but the experience was always magical. I clung to

Michael Seresin – from film noir to pinot noir

Michael Seresin claims, rather modestly, to ‘have no palate’, choosing instead to describe wine with light, colour and form. These are not your typical winemaker’s terms, but they make perfect sense given his unusual back story. Born and raised in New Zealand, Seresin emigrated to Europe in 1966 to pursue a career in cinematography. Movie

What’s going wrong in Bristol?

When a man is tired of London, he just needs to relocate to Bristol — or so the stream of westbound émigrés would suggest. Each year, hundreds up sticks and flee the capital in search of its laid-back lifestyle. Bristol prides itself on being the chilled-out alternative to the big smoke — a bit like