“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” —Henry Ford
This course studies the anatomy of big ideas. We can offer only abstract predictions about the future of a world in which machine learning, neural lace, biointelligence, and self-driving cars will become commonplace. Instead, this course asserts that we have much to learn from how scientists, entrepreneurs, and educators argue over such predictions. What makes an idea revolutionary or contrarian in an age when so much knowledge is at our fingertips? How do we speak about that which is yet unknowable? How are narratives about superintelligence composed through disciplines of economics, philosophy, religion, and engineering; the worlds of finance and entrepreneurship; and the concepts of evolution, futurism, and humanism? And what kinds of racial, gender, or class inequalities might superhuman intelligence reinforce or dissolve? Our course materials include peer-reviewed scholarly research, documentary film, and in-class interviews with contemporary entrepreneurs. Throughout the course, we will reflect on what these issues mean for developing our own strategies of reading, writing, and public speaking—what will we really need in a world with superhuman intelligence and with what can we dispense?