This conference will be streamed from the humanity+'s website here.
Technological innovation permeates all aspects of society—from tiny water purification packets and portable LifeStraw filters, to GPS tracking devices, wearable Timex iPods and Gel-Kinsei high-tech running shoes. Because technology and society evolve together, it has become increasingly important to develop a greater understanding of how technology is shaping the course of our lives. We are faced with a need to continuously become more innovative in harnessing and controlling technology’s acceleration. Nevertheless, innovation develops in stages. When it speeds up, we are faced with an urge to become ever more resourceful. When it slows down there is an impending impatience to compete with the exuberance of China. There is no doubt that even the most conservative thinkers agree that we have stepped into an era of a massive change. The good news is that our human diversity continues to spawn inventiveness and novelty.
Here is a listing of some of the abstracts which will be presented at the conference.
Art and Gene Action: Pathways to Expression
Diversity is a record of the unpredictability of anatomy. Time based living media shows control’s drift. Beyond the anarchistic love of results, what can drive the widest range of aestheticised bodies to leap into science’s waiting arms? Goals for future research aesthetics should allow celebration of the compulsive meddlesomeness that the primate movers of hereditary cascades perform in their arts. Initially the seductive relationship undulates between a small range of research aesthetics: Applied (utilitarian/engineered) ± [pop art]-cynical product optimizer, Fundamental (pure) ± [jazz improvisation]-experimental play as surprise enabler, Health (enhancement) ± [minimalism]-naïve perfectionism, world rejection, longevity alone, Defense (weaponry) ± [tap dance]-sadofuturist thanatopian kitsch or gore cabaret. Through art historical diversity as a methodology, we can include all of art’s refined movements as pathways to gene expressionism. For instance under-explored avenues include: Rococo Biolistic Transgenic Arts, Synchromism Electroporation Germline Arts, DNA Op Art Stemcell Microinjection Arts, Constructed Painting Lipid Transfer Genetic Arts, 3rd Millennium Eugenic Husbandry Bioarts, The Inherited ‘Case Against Art’ Living Antiart Engineered Arts. Of course, ethical responsibilities are engraved in the mutagenic application of art and science’s broad stroked aesthetics. They are writ in the brains and sinews of those whom have been imprinted upon. Different weights and measures are standard issues when force evolving aesthetics into plants, bacteria, animals, humans, cell lines, embryos etc. Ecological risk benefit analyses fluctuate according to market forecasts. But this project is a pursuit towards Intentional Germline Manipulation (IGM) of the human inheritance. Transgenic humans will live to experience life beyond the limits of benefit or dignity but with added attributes. Analysis of prescriptive sketches: 1) lean on the potential role of genetic determinism in the behavior of germinal choice (including deconstructive drives as a form of laudable sustainability), 2) accentuate the role advisory committees can play in rewarding sociopathy as an economic seedbed for future ethical performances, 3) funnel funding allegiance to mutation as an aesthetic beyond intention, disruptive alone and benevolent only in its perverted, contagious virulence.
From iPhone to iBrain, how mobile technology is transforming the world
The 80s brought us the personal computer, the 90s brought us the Internet and the ubiquitous mobile phone. Since the beginning of this millennium, mobile has changed from a simple two-way pager to a multitask smartphone. How does mobile technology transform the world? How does mobile technology change the social interactions and human relationship, from personal, professional, to business?
This talk will explore various aspects of this – how smartphones enable the blending of space, time and presence; how they enable the creation of augmented reality; how they transform the shopping behavior and creative marketing; and how they can make us smarter and happier. The talk will also peek into the future and see how current emerging technology and AI development may influence “phone of the future”.
The Freedom to Explore: human enhancement, extensions and the ethics of the unknown
Human enhancement is usually interpreted as an increase in function or efficiency of some capacity, e.g., improved memory, better physical performance or a more socially desirable appearance. However, there are technological modifications of the human that do not merely amplify capacities but enable new abilities not found in our species. Such modifications are extensions in new directions rather than enhancements of existing capacities, e.g. new senses and brain-computer interfaces. Much of the ethical debate about human enhancement has focused on the instrumental use of enhancement as a cost-benefit calculation: do the benefits from becoming better outweigh the various downsides (be they risks, ethical concerns, social concerns etc.)? But extensions open two new challenges for this ethical approach. First, they are explorations into the unknown and their utility can only be determined by testing them. Second, they might not even have an instrumental use: they are exploration for exploration’s sake, with an inherent individual and subjective value. I draw on analogies from the history of scientific self-experimentation, body performance art, and body modification to consider how we might estimate what proposed extensions are worth risking. I argue that the freedom to explore new forms of human living is important for individuals and societies, and that it is possible to negotiate rational risk-taking in the face of the unknown and transhuman.
Designing Minds and Worlds
How can we design a world (virtual or physical) so that it supports ongoing learning and growth and ethical behavior? How can we design a mind so that it takes advantage of the affordances its world offers? These are big questions, which bridge AI, robotics, cyborgics, virtual world and game design, sociology and psychology and other areas. This talk will address them from a cognitive systems theory perspective, and discuss how they’re concretely being confronted in current work applying the OpenCog Artificial General Intelligence system to control game characters in virtual worlds.
Rubbing the Clinamen Raw: Notes on Post-Humanism
Applied Empathy: planning humanistic systems
Over the last decade, computing has become the most frequent leisure time activity for westerners. Yet little do these addicts know that science fiction is soon to become science fact: embedded, ubiquitous computing environments, direct mind—to—machine user interfaces and predictive software that anticipates are just the beginning. Despite these remarkable advances a decades—old trend persists: most computing technology excels in its brute force task completion ability but does not create humane interactions and experiences. The drive to innovation and pushing the bounds of technology is rarely accompanied by a corresponding interest in and design of fulfilling the deepest needs and desires of users. What good is technology if it is not enhacing the human condition beyond simple completion of tasks?
Our unique Applied Empathy model creates a framework for understanding and creating technology that maximizes the human condition. The result is more devoted, passionate, fulfilled users who see your technology as an integral part of their total lifestyle. Inspired in part by Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the Applied Empathy Framework provides a conceptual model for fulfilling people’s Analytical, Emotional and Physical needs by incrementally gaining acceptance and trust, moving from Participation to Engagement to Productivity to Happiness and finally to Well Being. Adhering to the model in product planning and product development helps bleeding edge technology meet the deepest human needs: Fulfillment, Ecstasy, Growth, Health, Joy, Meaning and Satiation. This presentation will explain the method and show its real—world practical impact.
Xeno-Comm and Non-Human Minds panel
Instructions for Bio-chemistry Urbanism
(mode d’emploi pour une société du temps libéré)
What could be the potential of contemporary sciences in the rereading of the human “humeurs” and corporalities via physiology and chemical balance? This research developed by R&Sie(n) attempts to make palpable and prehensible, through technologies, the emotional transactions of the “body animal”, the body headless, and to informs us about its chemistry adaptation, its sympathy and its empathy, with contradictory emission and secretion, as an intricacy mixture
Designer psychologies: Moving beyond neurotypicality
Description: Baseline human psychology is a legacy of our paleolithic ancestry. Its current configuration is the result of very specific evolutionary pressures, but it has become poorly suited for life in the post-industrial age. Not only are humans becoming increasingly susceptible to psychological disorders, we are also reaching hard limits in terms of our memories, attention spans and intelligence; we are now having great difficulties keeping up with our technologies and the changes that they bring. Moreover, we are coming to realize that there can be more to human psychology than what we were born with. In the space of all possible viable and desirable psychologies, the neurotypical mind is but a tiny speck. As the autistic rights community has shown, there is considerable value to alternative psychologies. Looking ahead, and with the assistance of converging technologies like genetics, advanced psychopharmaceuticals, artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology, we will soon be able to design and create our own. This will be more than just intelligence or memory augmentation; designer psychologies will re-set and re-frame the way individuals perceive and process their environment in virtually all aspects. This design space is virtually limitless. In this presentation I will explore a few possibilities.
The Future of Car Design
Over 50 percent of 17 year olds do not have a car or even a driver’s license in 2008, and they don’t plan to acquire one any time soon. What is in the mind of this digitalized generation? What happen with the popular passion for cars over the century? Will automobile still exist in the future? What have and will change for automobile industry? How do we reconnect with the new generations? And what designers should consider to bring this passion back? This talk will look at the challenges at the current automobile industry, and propose a possible solution for the future of car design.
Controlled Genetic Management: Forecasting the future when science, religion, technology, big business and politics battle to control evolution
Hal Hefner is the creator of Gates a comic book that is a chronicle of high adventure, addressing ideas of identity, society, politics, and philosophy. This talk covers the findings of his research in preparation for writing Gates and the theoretical and cultural significance of the ConGenement, a science/religious based totalitarian government from the webcomic. Gates is the ultimate tale of man vs. nature and nature vs. technology. The theme of the story covers modern concerns, commenting on the relevant topics of environmentalism, Darwinism, creationism, and the unchecked dangers of irresponsible scientific and technological experimentation. At its most basic level, Gates is a story about the evolutionary divide of humanity brought about by science and technology. Hal will be touching on various subjects that helped to create the idea behind this dystopian world and possible scenarios for the future while exploring the potential paths the human race may take. Hal will discuss the controversies and roadblocks we will soon be facing as a society when science, religion, technology, big business and politics collide head on in a race to control evolution.
Why Prometheus loves Robots: How technology creators might be the next Greek Gods
In Greek mythology, Prometheus was the half-man, half-god responsible for creating humankind from the clay. He famously stole fire from the gods and gave it to the mortals. He paid a harsh price for educating his children, as Zeus punished Prometheus by sentencing him to 10,000 years of torture. As a father, he sacrificed himself. Chained to a pillar on a mountain where a griffon-vulture ate at Prometheus’ liver all day long, his transgression represented something deeper than mere fire, he had revealed the wisdom of “Techné” the knowledge of how to create, and, non-coincidentally, the root of the word ‘Technology’. Much of Greek mythology explores the control and mischievousness of the Gods trying to reign in or control their human creations. Are humans becoming the next generation of fickle Gods? Will we take responsibility for the actions and education of our electronic or artificially intelligent creations? What can we learn from mythology about the ethics of autonomy, identity and downstream impacts? As an Electrical Engineer by training and a Roboticist by profession, I will use this talk to open a discussion on the use of mythological metaphors and storytelling to influence the positive evolution of technology creation.
Your Genie in a Bottle: Wish Fulfillment Machines
Even since you read about Aladdin’s Lamp and his magic genie, the genie who fulfills all your wishes, you’ve wanted one. And you will soon have one. Your own genie in a bottle. Thanks to technologies that can learn your wishes. Thanks to technologies that can search the world for what you want before you even know you want it. Your genie will free you from mountains of mundane chores. It will free you to be what you’ve always wanted to be. And, guess what, advertising will no longer be shoved down your throat. It will come to you when and only when you need it. In other words the process by which goods and services let you know they exist will be turned on its head. Advertising will be forever changed. And so will you. More important, your genie will help you find what you want more than material things—purposes that excite you and friends and mates. Love and meaning. And the simple fact of the matter is that your genie is already half-way here.
Design Principles for Minds and Societies
Resilience has become a central concept in for both psychology and social planning. A growing body of research suggests that one’s capacity for a resilient response to life’s challenges is a pre-set personality trait that determines well-being, one which may be amenable to behavioral, chemical and genetic enhancement. The resilience of a society is determined in part by decisions about the kind of agricultural, energy, transportation and communication technologies that we use. As the recent disasters in Japan painfully underline intentionally designing more resilient minds and societies is key to mitigating the risks of rapid social change and catastrophic threats.
Scentient Beings: The AScent Through The Emotional Spectrum
‘Scentient Beings’ explores the future of multi-sensory fashion informed by science fiction and the ‘emotional spectrum’; the power source of the Green Lantern Corps, featured in the DC Comic series. It is a collection of responsive clothes that explores the expanding frontier of smell and its correlation with colour and emotion. Inspired by a quote from J.G.Ballard: ‘Fashion is the recognition that nature has endowed us with one skin too few, that a fully Sentient Being should wear its nervous system externally’, the collection builds on the latest developments in ‘aromachology’ (the science of fragrance), electronic nose sensors and emerging technologies to enhance cognition performance. This talk describes the development of a wearable ‘electronic nervous system’ as a new ‘Scentsory’ platform to improve memory. It investigates computerised scent-output systems worn on the body for fashion and health applications, offering a personalised scent symphony experience which is intimate in nature. It merges fashion, technology, fragrance and colour therapy to ‘enhance mood’, improve lifestyle, and will be placed alongside those in vogue such as alternative healing practices. As a luxury fashion item, it can be programmed to deliver a colourful ‘wardrobe of fragrance’, depending on emotion, mood, occasion and time of day (most women change fragrances because of a shift in mood). The purpose is to appeal to the user’s ancient and primitive olfactory sense whilst complementing the audio/visual senses. Designed for psychological end benefits, embedded electronic nose sensors sniff stress and diseases, whilst minute delivery mechanisms produce aromatic [colour] molecules in controlled ways, responding to personal need.
If you wanted to make an oak tree, you would not nail some sticks to a pole and glue some leaves to the stick. You would put some rules (an acorn) in the ground and let it make itself. Why aren’t we making our cell phones that way? “I think when I find the code that generates our world, It will be about six lines.” – Stephen Wolfram In common usage, genomics refers to biological genetics, but a broader usage is emerging. We are coming to understand genomics as processes in which simple rules can generate complex outcomes. In 1953, Watson and Crick cracked DNA: four letters, two rules. At the same time John von Neumann and Stanislaw Ulam were working on a theory of self-replicating machines by playing with cellular automaton. They were followed by John Conway’s Game of Life, Benoît Mandelbrot’s Mandelbrot set, and Stephen Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science. So far these approaches have existed inside computers. How practical is generative genomics as a new way of making the broad range of products we use? This talk will present the work of several architects who have been thinking about using rule sets to let their buildings grow themselves. The rich complexities of nature come from simple rules. Can we use such rules to generate our own creations?
Josh Call and Curt Tiggs
Transhumanism in the University
As the intellectual hubs of the world, colleges and universities are fallow ground for the cultivation and development of ideas. There are students and professors across all disciplines whose knowledge and efforts will prove invaluable in our efforts to create a better future. There are many budding scholars, engineers, and scientists whose voices ought to be heard but who currently do not have the necessary structure or support necessary to explore, discuss, and expand upon transhumanist ideas. For this purpose, we will be discussing the importance of and plans for the Humanity+ Student Network, which is engaging in an effort to create and coordinate an international network of student organizations. The H+SN will promote and assist in the creation of student organizations and academic working groups in universities across the world for the purpose of engaging in transhumanist discourse, and will support those groups once formed.
Understanding the role popular culture representations play in the design of emerging technology discourse
This talk focuses on the way that media portrays emerging technologies in popular culture, like Hollywood films. While I am interested in a wide array of emerging technologies, and their cultural and ethical effects, my current research focus is on the meaning and use of cinematic representations of robots, androids and cyborgs in relation to the actual research that is going on in the field today. The role of popular culture in the discourse surrounding emerging technology is important to examine because media provide culturally accessible tools of reference for Western society not directly working or familiar with topics of emerging technologies. These references serve as a way to play with scenarios outside of the social realm. Allowing society representational references for communicating about emerging technologies. Media references have meanings that go deeper than what may only be visible with a surface reading. Through analysis of these media references, the deeper contextual meanings can be understood through the eyes of culture, building up to a deeper understanding of what society might be communicating as they come to understand current emerging technologies. I seek to inquire how Western society uses popular culture to understand emerging technology, i.e. robots and androids, and what can be learned from those references.
Designing Death: Reframing and Refusing the End of Life
It might appear that death is one of the very few aspects of our existence that are not open to design. However we shape the course of our lives – our activities, our relationships, our values – death is imposed on us all, dissolving all previous elements of design in our lives, aside from our legacy. Only very recently in human history has it become possible to truly design death, reframing what it means and perhaps refusing its permanence. The advent and continual improvement in cryopreservation (or cryonics) means that clinical death or legal death need not mean the death of the person. This speculative yet science-based practice allows us to choose whether to preserve our entire (broken down) body or just our brain. By leaving a record of our wishes for revival and repair, it may also allow us to choose and design how we want to come back: under what circumstances? In our original body? In a de-aged but otherwise identical body? In a radically enhanced body?
History is the Art of Forgetting
Artists continue to be among the best voices for introducing a reluctant and often suspicious public to the great steps in cultural evolution that stand before us. The inter-relationship between the arts and sciences has never been so obvious, or so important, and although here has really never been a time when art and science was not inexorably intertwined, its need for concerted public collaboration may never have been greater. Since the first humans, or perhaps even proto-humans, incorporated tools, clothing, fire, or other ‘enhancements’ to their biological possibilities, we have all been beyond merely biological organisms, and thus since prehistory, have entered the transhuman age. Recent reactionary attacks on science, echoes similar attacks against the arts. The political, legal and socio-economic limitations that seemingly restrain innovation, can perhaps be better mitigated through the thoughtful use of collaborative endeavors, in which artists, scientists and philosophers work to build complex projects designed conceptually to introduce new ideas without cultural trauma. This lectures presents a ‘call to arts, not arms’ for thinkers of any discipline, to work together to overcome the growing bias of fear, doubt and ignoarance.
Cities by Invention
Our non-profit design group promotes ecological design in cities. Through our innovative projects and outreach efforts, we seek to illuminate the environmental possibilities of New York City and inspire solutions in areas like it around the world. Terreform ONE is a unique laboratory for scientists, artists, architects, students, and individuals of all backgrounds to explore and advance the larger framework of green design. The group develops adaptive solutions and technologies for local sustainability in energy, transportation, infrastructure, buildings, waste treatment, food, water, and media spaces.
Free Will: The Brain’s Ability to Predict and Simulate the Future Based on Information from the Present and the Past
One key attribute of our brain is its ability to predict and simulate the future based on information from the present and the past. Humans are able to predict outcomes that were not experienced and make decisions based purely on imagining them and their prospects. Observing the process of raising thoughts into our mind and making free choices based on these can be ultimately best seen by directly recording the activity of single neurons in the brains of humans, in real time – as they ruminate over the world and make these choices. In a sequence of studies recently conducted using single-neuron recordings in the brains of humans undergoing brain surgery we were able to visualize the process by which subjects alleviate thoughts and predictions in their own mind and used real-time decoders to alter the environment accordingly, causing a change in the neuronal interpretation of the environment inside the patient’s brain.
In this new work, which I will address in my talk, we directly tackled subject’s perception of time and free will by altering the outcomes of their actions simultaneously with their conscious awareness of those. We looked at the change in pathways and characteristic in the patient’s brain as they learn to control the dynamics of their own neurons and the change in the neuronal correlates of consciousness’ activity as the neurons are being interpreted in real-time.
Transhumanist Aesthetics of Life Extension: new persons/new platforms
Transformative human enhancement means prolonging life and enhancing personhood. It is an artistic approach that engages exploratory technologies and design-based strategies. It proposes that our biology, even if regenerated and augmented, is just one aspect of life extension. Our person—the core of who we are and how we experience the world—must be preserved. How to accomplish this is pivotal in developing new platforms for existence. In doing so, transformative human enhancement suggests the transdisciplinarity of established artistic fields such as body/performance art, wearables, and bio art. But we can to do better than this! We need to integrate these fields with virtuality and the emerging technological tools of nanotechnology, regenerative biotechnology, artificial general intelligence, and neuro engineering. Building on my 1997, 2004 and 2010 future human prototypes, in this presentation I introduce the state of the art of transformative human enhancement.
The Will of Bacteria: Rethinking the Singularity
According to Kurzweil, we are approaching the singularity. Kurzweil sees the singularity as a moral phenomenon where man and machines will allow consciousness to expand and reach godlike levels. I beg to differ. We are fusing with machines, not because of a fundamental, universal, cosmological need for morality, but because of three dynamics: the thrust of life through replication; the need for innovation; and the pull of aggregation. According to Richard Dawkins, one fundamental principle drives all phenomena: the need for multiplication (or replication). But replication is affected by mutation. As mutations naturally occur, innovation becomes the single most important factor to life’s expansion. Innovation fast-tracks evolution and enables rapid changes, and ultimately survival. But innovation also triggers aggregation (sociability). Thanks to the rapid-paced ability to adapt and change that innovation provides them, units can aggregate into larger collectives (such as mammals) and greatly increase their chances of survival. But to survive, large units have to constantly innovate. Sociability also triggers innovation. A feedback loop is created. But units do not only aggregate at the micro level (bacterial culture, neuronal network). They also do at the macro level. Animals form bands, groups, flocks. Humans create cities. How do we define these collectives? Are they life forms? They aggregate, they replicate, they innovate, they survive and expand. These collectives co-evolve and fold into another. Bacteria form cells which grow into bodies who gather into bands who expand into cities. We are not individuals but hives within hives. Where, then, is life and intelligence located? In the multi-celled body? In the large collective (the anthill, the city)? In the smaller one (the bacterial culture)? A different singularity: Not Kurzweil’s, but a continuum of collectives, growing, burgeoning, maturing into one another. Life, intelligence, consciousness travel back and forth between bacteria, animals, cities and technologies. The design of our cities is also the will of bacteria.
Biosphere 2 + Future Symbiosis
I will discuss my photography practice, sound and new media that reflects the changing relationship between human and our surroundings. Technological advances have created an atmosphere of rapid change and flux. We are living in a time when organs can be grown in laboratories, bodies are being cryogenically preserved for later reanimation, stem cells can be inserted in vivo, nanobots will soon enter into our bodies to perform biologic tasks, robots are becoming largely embedded in our lives, digital bodies can be used to go to virtual worlds, and technology is becoming integrated to a greater degree in our bodies and biosphere. With an emphasis on his work from a 2010 artist in residency at Biosphere 2, this talk will provide an overview of past, present and future artistic projects that are inspired by the landscape of today’s social environment.
Xeno-Comm and Non-Human Minds panel
Xeno-Comm and Non-Human Minds panel
Distributed Creativity of the Electric Sheep
Scott Draves will discuss his objective to cross the line from digital to the organic in his art, reproducing the essence of life in cyberspace. With his distributed supercomputer and and cyborg mind the Electric Sheep, made up of 450,000 computers and humans, he has built a creative force larger than any single individual. What can we create with collective intelligence? How is open source a part of the mix? Ultimately, is it possible to make machines “come alive”? Given the rapid acceleration of technological advance, our relationship with machines is critical to our future. What are the limits of our acceptance of them?
TIMESHIP: The Architecture of Immortality
We have long been fascinated by the possibility of immortality even as we accepted death as inevitable. However, recent scientific advances suggest that aging and death are genetically programmed and might someday be slowed or even eliminated. We are now entering an era in which the exponential growth of technology will soon create a world that we, at the beginning of the 21st century, will hardly recognize. Practical immortality may be a significant part of this world to which Timeship will take us. Created by architect Stephen Valentine, Timeship’s six-acre structure will be a center for pioneering research to indefinitely extend the healthy human lifespan, as well as the world’s most secure and technologically advanced facility for the storage of cryopreserved biological materials, including DNA, organs for transplant, and whole mammalian organisms. And for those who cannot be helped by today’s medicine, Timeship will offer the most advanced cryostorage facilities that may one day bring patients to a time when advances in medical technology will cure their ailments and restore them to a youthful condition. The presentation-lecture entitled, Timeship: The Architecture of Immortality, describes the creation of this symbolically-rich building and examines the technologies that will make it one of the most innovative structures of our time, a veritable Noah’s Ark to a future we can only begin to imagine.
Xeno-Comm and Non-Human Minds panel
Fixing Human Bugs
The human body and mind are wonderful things, but they are also not without flaws – flaws which cause problems for all of us. These “bugs” in the human design plan can have consequences ranging from the inconvenient, as in the case of male pattern baldness, to the serious and even deadly. One of the main goals of transhumanism is to use technology to fix these human bugs, in a safe, ethical and moral way. In the medium term, two of the biggest bug-solvers will be respirocytes and brain-computer interfaces. Respirocytes are artificial blood cells, which can store oxygen and release it into the body much more efficiently than regular blood cells. With respirocytes, we can store enough oxygen to go for hours without breathing, allowing us to scuba-dive and mountain-climb without the need for bulky equipment. On a more serious level, choking and lung diseases will be much less serious – if something gets stuck in your windpipe, you can just drive yourself over to the hospital and get it removed. Brain-computer interfaces will create a direct, high-bandwidth link between the information in the brain and the global electronic information network. We can already do this well enough to attach a camera to the brain, allowing the blind to see. Once the technology progresses more, we will be able to instantly remember dates and places, or telepathically talk to our friends, or even get smarter by combining the advantages of the biological brain with the advantages of silicon.