New Dark Age - Book Summary

James Bridle



“New Dark Age is among the most unsettling and illuminating books I’ve read about the Internet, which is to say that it is among the most unsettling and illuminating books I’ve read about contemporary life.”  – New YorkerAs the world around us increases in technological complexity, our understanding of it diminishes.

Underlying this trend is a single idea: the belief that our existence is understandable through computation, and more data is enough to help us build a better world. In reality, we are lost in a sea of information, increasingly divided by fundamentalism, simplistic narratives, conspiracy theories, and post-factual politics. Meanwhile, those in power use our lack of understanding to further their own interests.

Despite the apparent accessibility of information, we’re living in a new Dark Age. From rogue financial systems to shopping algorithms, from artificial intelligence to state secrecy, we no longer understand how our world is governed or presented to us.

The media is filled with unverifiable speculation, much of it generated by anonymous software, while companies dominate their employees through surveillance and the threat of automation. In his brilliant new work, leading artist and writer James Bridle surveys the history of art, technology, and information systems, and reveals the dark clouds that gather over our dreams of the digital sublime.


What will you learn from this book

  1. Technological Complexity: Modern technologies are becoming increasingly complex and opaque, making it difficult for individuals to understand their inner workings and implications fully.

  2. Information Overload: The abundance of information in the digital age does not necessarily equate to knowledge or understanding. Information overload can lead to confusion, misinformation, and a lack of critical thinking.

  3. Algorithmic Bias: Algorithms play a significant role in shaping our online experiences and decision-making processes. However, they are often biased and can perpetuate existing inequalities and injustices.

  4. Surveillance Culture: Surveillance technologies are ubiquitous in contemporary society, leading to concerns about privacy, autonomy, and individual freedom. Mass surveillance has become normalized, raising questions about its impact on democracy and human rights.

  5. Ecological Consequences: The proliferation of digital technologies has significant ecological consequences, including energy consumption, resource depletion, and electronic waste. Addressing these environmental challenges is crucial for sustainability.

  6. Epistemological Crisis: The digital age has brought about an epistemological crisis, where truth and reality are increasingly difficult to discern amidst the proliferation of misinformation, propaganda, and deepfakes.

  7. Complex Systems Theory: Understanding complex systems theory is essential for navigating the interconnected and unpredictable nature of modern society. It requires embracing uncertainty, resilience, and adaptability.

  8. Cognitive Dissonance: The discrepancy between our perception of reality and the complex systems shaping it can lead to cognitive dissonance and existential angst. Embracing uncertainty and complexity is essential for overcoming this dissonance.

  9. Critical Engagement: Developing critical thinking skills and media literacy is crucial for navigating the digital landscape effectively. Questioning assumptions, verifying sources, and challenging dominant narratives are essential practices.

  10. Hope and Agency: Despite the challenges posed by the new dark age, there is room for hope and agency. By fostering critical awareness, collective action, and ethical engagement, individuals and communities can shape a more equitable and sustainable future.

Language English
No of pages 20
Book Publisher i-Read Publications
Published Date 24 Apr 2024

About Author

Author : James Bridle


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