Utopians, Dystopians and the Singularity

This is the home page for the course:
Utopians, Dystopians and the Singularity
You can access this site directly at:
or from a link on the ILR page:
Offered in the Institute for Learning and Retirement at Marietta College in the Winter term, 2017. 
Scheduled for Fridays, 3 to 5 p.m., January 20 to March 10, in 124 Thomas Hall.
Instructor, Ted Goertzel, Ph.D. 
email: tedgoertzel@gmail.com   
phone: 740 749-0290

Course Description: We may soon be approaching an era known as “The Singularity” when computers will rival or exceed human intelligence. Will this enable us to realize the utopian dreams of past generations? Or will the machines enslave or exterminate our species? What can we do now to prepare for this challenge? Each week this course will explore utopian fiction, past and ongoing social experiments, recent and projected scientific developments and futurist projections in a specific area of social life. Weekly topics will likely include: the economy, sex and gender, warfare, the environment, health and medical care, energy, space travel, family life, entertainment, religion,  Each week we will make use of video presentations by stimulating speakers.

Course procedures:  The first class will be an introductory overview. After that, each class will be organized around a topic (or two) such as education, the environment, the economy, sex and gender, religion, health, the global brain, politics, warfare.  Each class will include a mixture of historical, contemporary and futurist materials, including fiction and real-life experiments, lectures, videos and discussions. You can find the materials for each class by clicking on the links at the left of this page. These will be updated as the course goes along.

Each class will be self-contained, don't worry if you have to miss a class. You can also catch up on any material you miss by viewing the presentations on the web site. For the last class, we may attempt a general synthesis.

Suggested readings and videos will be listed on the web page for each class, and I may occasionally hand out copies of readings, but there will be no "required" readings. If anyone has a specific interest and would like to make a presentation to the class, speak to me after class or email me.  If there are topics that interest you and aren't covered, let me know. I will be making changes to the syllabus as the course goes along.

Suggested reading: "Couldn't be Better; The Return of the Utopians," by Akash Kapur, The New Yorker, October 3, 2016.

The following edited book is recommended, available on amazon.com

You can also download a free copy at: