Summary of How the Enlightenment Ends

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Most people associate former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger with old-school political realism. In a new essay in The Atlantic, however, he strays from his usual foreign policy expertise to warn about a novel threat that has remained below the radar of most international relations experts: the rise of artificial intelligence. Although his article betrays that Kissinger is treading on new territory, his conclusion about the social implications of intelligent machines are worth considering. getAbstract recommends familiarizing yourself with Kissinger’s concerns.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How artificial intelligence (AI) is challenging the values of the Enlightenment, and
  • Why society needs to define the purpose and limits of AI. 

About the Author

Henry A. Kissinger served as national security adviser and secretary of state to US presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He has written widely on American foreign policy and diplomatic history.



The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in a growing number of human endeavors won’t only transform society and politics but will also challenge modern Western concepts of what it means to be human. Since the 18th-century Enlightenment, humans have placed individual insights over dogma, favored knowledge acquisition through the scientific method, and placed great faith in the human capacity to reason and reflect. 

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