Technology has been changing our lives from the beginning of human history. Now Artificial Intelligence threatens to accelerate and intensify this change. These changes will be of familiar kinds, but their range and pace is frightening to many people, with good reason. I have studied change and resistance to change in the realm of theater. The arts of theater call for people to pay attention to each other. Because paying attention is fundamental to human life, I have argued that theater itself is fundamental to being human (The Necessity of Theater, 2008).
In this book I take on a set of challenges we face from technology, using theater as a microcosm for the larger issues. Our history provides models for dealing with Artificial Intelligence. Sometimes our ancestors caved in to new technologies, sometimes they resisted. The reasons behind their choices are important for us today. So are the strategies they used when they decided to resist.
In successive chapters I deal with the necessity of paying attention to each other, and then the necessities of preserving truth, freedom, and the quest for wisdom. In the last chapter I show how we can rescue our heritage from innovations of technology by translating it into forms that are alive for us.
"Reading "Surviving Technologies" is like taking a breathtaking walk with a modern-day Aristotle in a literary lyceum. Paul Woodruff was a national treasure and this follow-up to his brilliant "The Necessity of Theater" needs to be read by every actor, director, playwright, designer, scholar, and audience member. Woodruff's simple elegant prose conveys a series of deep penetrating thoughts on what theatre means to people in today's post-covid, digital, and increasingly disconnected world. By the end of this stimulating conceptual tour, you feel both enlightened and encouraged, and having walked alongside Paul Woodruff we know that wherever new technologies may take us the ancient art of theatre will surely survive and thrive."