(edited by) Ilan Manouach and Anna Engelhardt – Chimeras: Inventory of Synthetic Cognition


Onassis Foundation, ISBN 978-6188536180, English, 536 pages, 2022, Greece

In the current boom of books on the impact of AI, led by the urgency to better understand a rapid and pervasive shift in culture and human systems, there are very few that rise to the challenge of distancing themselves from conditional rapid technological development and isolating critical cultural elements that need to be interconnected. Chimeras: Inventory of Synthetic Cognition meets this challenge with a heterogeneous ‘inventory’ of short texts by various theorists and artists. Manouach and Engelhardt have compiled a remarkable selection where each individual component addresses a specific concept and groups them under their overarching definition of ‘synthetic cognition’ to explicitly avoid the duality of artificial/authentic. The compilation of all these components/concepts then forms a ‘chimera’, a strange, complex yet perfectly functioning and living assemblage. These components are sometimes quite distinct but remain interdependent when considering the intellectual relationships between computational thought in all its possible manifestations and implications, and the biological in all its human and non-human forms. In more than five hundred pages, which include a final section with a series of artworks, there is a lot of stimulating information, presented coherently and in context, which fulfils the main task to radically “reformulate what one might understand as AI.”