‘The Singularity’ is how Silicon Valley likes to describe the ultimate break point in human history: when we will come face to face with machines that have minds of their own. But what if this has already happened? Hundred of years ago, human beings started building the artificial entities that now rule our world. They are called states and corporations: immensely powerful robots, able to take decisions and act for themselves. They have made us richer, safer, healthier and more capable – and they may yet destroy us. David Runciman distils for us over 300 years of thinking about how to live with artificial agency in The Handover: How We Gave Control of Our Lives to Corporations, States and AIs. Runciman is Professor of Politics at Cambridge University and host of the Past Present Future podcast.
Colm Tóibín reunites us with the heroine of his 2009 novel, Brooklyn, in his sequel Long Island. We find Eilis Lacey 20 years on, in the 1970s, living with her husband, Tony Fiorello, and children on Long Island, rather too close to her Fiorello in-laws. A shocking piece of news propels Eilis back to Ireland, to a world she thought she had long left behind and to ways of living, and loving, she thought she had lost. Tóibín is the current Laureate for Irish Fiction. His previous novels include The Master, The Testament of Mary and House of Names. His work has been shortlisted for the Booker multiple times, and has won both the Costa Novel Award and the Impac Award. He talks to Hay Festival President Stephen Fry.