Document Type


Publication Date

November 2021


This paper brings together three interpreters of the earthly city and the apocalyptic city—Jacques Ellul, Hunter S. Thompson, and John of the Apocalypse—to reflect on the future of our technological society. Focusing on expectations about artificial intelligence, it explores the future imagined at the 2019 re:MARS conference, “Amazon’s global AI event for Machine Learning, Automation, Robotics, and Space,” and the global stress test of these expectations a year later during the COVID-19 pandemic. What can we learn from the negative prophecies of Ellul’s The Meaning of the City (1970) and Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream(1972) as we explore emerging dreams about artificial intelligence? What can we learn from the often misunderstood but more affirming prophet of New Jerusalem about the creative role of artificial agency? Can these three creative visionaries help us gain a clearer understanding of how transformative technologies such as AI may affirm and realize human hopes and longings? Can this odd trinity help us imagine new eschatologies for our emerging technological society?