Join leading AI researcher Blaise Agüera y Arcas for an exploration of how biology, ecology, sexuality, history, and culture have intertwined to create a dynamic "us" that can neither be called natural nor artificial.
Identity politics occupies the front line in today's culture wars, pitting generations against each other, and progressive cities against the rural traditions of our past. Rich in data and detail, Who Are We Now? goes beyond today's headlines to connect our current reality to a larger more-than-human story.
At the heart of the book is a set of surveys conducted between 2016 and 2021, asking thousands of anonymous respondents all over the United States questions about their behavior and identity, and especially about gender and sexuality. The resulting window into people's lives is a bit like that of the Kinsey Reports, which scandalized postwar America more than 70 years ago. Today, the landscape is--in every sense--even queerer. Twentieth century heterosexual "normalcy" is on the wane, especially among young and urban people.
The landscape outside has changed too. After millennia of being fruitful and multiplying, we've strained, and exceeded, planetary limits. Domesticated animals far outweigh wildlife, and many species are in catastrophic decline. Yet curiously, our own population is poised to begin collapsing this century too, our fertility now curbed by choice rather than by premature death. Is this the end of humanity--or the beginning?
Blaise Agüera y Arcas is a frequent speaker at TED and many other conferences, winner of MIT's TR35 Prize and Fast Company's Most Creative People award, and a Vice President and Fellow at Google Research. He leads a 500 person team working on Artificial Intelligence (AI), large language models, smart devices, technology ethics, and privacy. Publicly visible projects from his team include Federated Learning, Artists and Machine Intelligence, Coral, Hollywood gender equality work with the Geena Davis Institute, and many AI features in Pixel and Android. In 2016 he wrote a widely read essay on the relationship between art and technology, and in 2017 he co-authored another popular essay on physiognomy and bias in AI and a refutation of claims that facial structure reveals sexual orientation. While Blaise's role at Google focuses on AI, his career has often been at the intersection of computing with other disciplines in the sciences and humanities. He raised early alarms (starting in 2015) about fairness and bias in machine learning, which led to deeper study of the differential impacts of technology on people underrepresented in tech. His quest to map the changing landscape of human identification with minority and majority subgroups led to this book. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
Joanne McNeil was the inaugural winner of the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation’s Arts Writing Award for an emerging writer. She has been a resident at Eyebeam, a Logan Nonfiction Program fellow, and an instructor at the School for Poetic Computation.
Joanne is the author of Lurking: How a Person Became a User.