AURAK Discusses “From Organisms to Algorithms”

December 9, 2018,

The American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK) Reading Club hosted a panel discussion entitled “From Organisms to Algorithms” over Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow featuring discussants, Visiting Professor of Blended Learning and physist, Dr. Saif Rayyan, and Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dr. Philipp Dorstewitz, with Professor of English, Arabic, and Translation Studies, Professor Kamal Abdel-Malek acting as moderator.

The AURAK Reading Club read New York Times bestselling author Yuval Noah Harari’s Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow in which he fixates on humanity’s future and its conquest to evolve itself into deities. Over the past century, humans have accomplished the unimaginable in transforming famine, plague, and war from indomitable forces of nature into tamable obstacles. Homo Deus explores what comes next by delving into concepts that will affect the twenty-first century: conquering death, creation of artificial life, and overcoming our own self-destruction.

“Technology should make us feel we are in more in control instead of less. It is liberating in that it enables us to do more,” remarked Dr. Saif during discourse concerning our species’ usage of technology and the effects it has had in our evolution, a theme from the book that the club explored. Technology has opened the floodgates to an overwhelming amount of information that we are still learning to manage, and the group discussion covered everything from its implication in our evolution into a superhuman species through genetics and artificial intelligence, social implications in opening an array of numerous social connections, to its hindrance of brain development.

A member of the group, the Director of the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Research, Dr. Eduardo Ali, thoroughly enjoyed the discussion, “This is my seventh month working behind a desk. This kind of discussion with perspectives from different disciplines is stimulating. It was useful to hear different values and has proven to be reinvigorating.”