Member 420
242 entries

Project moderator:

Contributor to projects:
The great enhancement debate
The Total Library
Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. (Albert Camus)
  • Affiliated
  •  /  
  • Invited
  •  /  
  • Descended
  • Wildcat’s favorites
    From Xarene
    Human Document...
    From Xaos
    It is not Gods that we...
    From TheLuxuryofProtest
    Deep Learning in the City...
    From Rourke
    The 3D Additivist Manifesto
    From syncopath
    Recently commented on
    From Benjamin Ross Hayden
    AGOPHOBIA (2013) - Film
    From Wildcat
    Tilting at windmills or...
    From Wildcat
    The jest of Onann pt. 1(...
    From syncopath
    From Wildcat
    Some nothings are like...
    Wildcat’s projects
    The human species is rapidly and indisputably moving towards the technological singularity. The cadence of the flow of information and innovation in...

    The Total Library
    Text that redefines...

    The great enhancement debate
    What will happen when for the first time in ages different human species will inhabit the earth at the same time? The day may be upon us when people...
    Now playing SpaceCollective
    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    From Wildcat's personal cargo

    The Aesthetical and Ethical application of Transhuman perception to Design
    Project: Polytopia
    Whilst it may be possible to soon grow your own clothes with synthetic bacteria, or indeed harnessing fog to eliminate the water problems of the world, what is exciting about design within technology and the transhumanist perspective of it, is primarily the idea that design can be simultaneously innovative, a game changer, aesthetically pleasing and ethically sound.

    Such is the mission of the coming conference “TRANSHUMANISM MEETS DESIGN” at Parsons school of design where Humanity+ and Parsons will Explore the Role of Design in Transcending and Transforming Human Potential.

    With a fascinating list of futurists speakers including Howard Bloom, author of Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century, and Vivian Rosenthal, cofounder of New York-based Tronic Studio. Artificial intelligence researcher Ben Goertzel, chair of Humanity+; strategic philosopher Max More, CEO of Alcor Life Extension Foundation; and neuroscientist Anders Sandberg, a James Martin Research Fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University the conference promises to be an event at a critical junction in our evolution.

    In my conversations with Natasha Vita-More, who co-chairs the conference with Ed Keller, the idea to present a designed form of presentation, interview like, for our audience here at SC came up, we have as a result created a schema of interweaving ideas, involving design, transhumanism, ethics and aesthetics.

    I - Narratives

    1.The Narrative of Aesthetics

    Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern.

    Alfred North Whitehead (Mathematical Logician and Philosopher)

    Natasha: One way in which we can understand design and aesthetics is to refresh our imaginations about what personal identity means. If, for example, our personhood is a series of neuronal connections, then it forms a pattern. All aspects of our brain’s cognition, including memory, perception, experiences, analysis, and imagination, are patterns of connections. By this, one could say we are art.

    2. The Narrative of Design

    Design is the method of putting form and content together. Design, just as art, has multiple definitions; there is no single definition. Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that's why it is so complicated.

    Paul Rand (Icon Graphic Designer)

    Natasha: Biology is a design of nature’s elements and evolution’s processes. If design, in its most basic sense, is the act of finding a solution to a problem, then design is a quintessential method for developing humanity’s future existence as biological, semi-biological and post-biological people. Science and technology are the tools, but design is the necessary, essential methodology.

    3. The Narrative of Culture

    Be culturally literate, because if you don't have any understanding of the world you live in and the culture you live in, you're not going to express anything to anybody else.

    Paula Scher (Dame of Grande Design)

    Natasha: When time speeds up and the complexity of life causes cultures to clash, it is ever more sensible to promote diversity and understanding amongst consensual and disparate beliefs. Society’s need for knowledge is truncated by easy, quick-fix information that lacks accuracy and historical context. Repeatedly, I am seeing misinformation, lousy referencing, borrowed ideas, and a type of tweet culture that doesn’t take the time to accurately quote or identify where the information was obtained.

    4. The Narrative of Transhumanism

    Leonardo Da Vinci combined art and science and aesthetics and engineering, that kind of unity is needed once again.

    Ben Shneiderman (Computer Scientist)

    Natasha: Transhumanism evokes the sciences and technologies that might best solve the problems of bodily deterioration, cognitive degeneration, and overall lack of well-being. Enhancement means to expand upon—to make better. It parallels the role of design. Enhancement is not just augmenting the body with technology. As a design process, it aims to produce a reliable, efficient, smart model for personhood. It is the ultimate unity of aesthetics and engineering.

    II - The Application of Transhuman Perception

    1. The application of Transhumanism to Ethics

    Natasha: At the finest intersection of transhumanism and ethics lies the issue of life and death, who we are, our purpose, our relationship to our self, to others and to society. Transhumanism values personhood, the right to live, and the right to enhance intellectual capacity, bodily performance, sensory modalities, physiological attributes, and to increase one’s lifespan. Transhumanism disavows any political, religious or other system that uses coercion in interfering with a person’s efforts to maintain his or her personhood and efforts to sustain life and wellbeing.

    2. The application of Transhumanism to Aesthetics

    Natasha: Aesthetics of an enhanced existence is best conveyed through new media’s virtual, immersive role in constituting experience design. This offers one an opportunity to partially experience what a transhuman, posthuman or upload might be like. For example, to experience multiple selves and distributed cognition. Ultimately the artistic finessing of radical life extension is the goal.

    3. The application of Aesthetics to Design

    Natasha: Surveying transdisciplinary practice-based works generating around the theme of transhumanism, it seems that designing new types of human platforms is at the top of the design excitement. When I designed “Primo Posthuman” in 1997, it was a novel prototype, never done before and I received international recognition for this concept and model. Since then, there have been many designers and artists who have added to this concept and there are some marvelous outcomes. Nevertheless, none of them have actually furthered my original concept or introduced a different or more meaningful examination of a future human prototype. Why? I think the reason is that the technological methodology that I envisioned for the future humans and its aesthetics is still not available.

    4.The correlativity of Ethics, Aesthetics, Design and Transhumanism

    Natasha: If we look at human enhancement as a design issue, then ethics and aesthetics are the primary tools. If the aim of transhumanism is to regenerate existence and personhood, in biological matter and other substrates, then the correlation between one’s values and one’s right to morphology are just two variables of the gestalt. What we will look like, how we functions, and the relationship between persons depends on the structure and substrate of the person and the architecture of the environment.

    The health of one’s body and brain is essential to the core of transhumanism.

    III - The body- The next frontier of evolution:

    1.1 The Body extends in time via technology producing longevity

    Natasha: Extending the body is the role of transformative human enhancement. Adding to the number of years we are alive, developing new environments within which to exist, designing new types of persons are crucial aspects of extending the body through technology. But it must be understood that the body, is inclusive of the person and the body is not tethered to biology or a three-dimensional structure. The idea of regenerating human life is not new. It is an age-old issue. What is new are the methods through which we can realize this proposition. Transhumanism has been challenging the human lifespan and the finality of death for 20 years.

    1.2 The Body cybernetically extended as itself via tech , changing the human condition

    Natasha: Cybernetics looks at the observer as part of the system, rather than outside the system. Building on this theory, it makes sense that the observer would also be a co-creator with the development of the system. After all, it is his/her life we are talking about! To extend and elevate the human condition related to extending the “observer” beyond biology and unto alternative platforms. One such platform, which relates to cybernetics, is a digital and computational platform, for example. But the issue of uploading consciousness is a very hard problem for cognitive scientists and neuro scientists to explore. The rest of us can imagine the possibilities and what the aesthetics implied might be.

    1.3 Body extended as enhanced brain –The metabrain, Brain Machine Interface

    Natasha: The metabrain is the term I use for the enhanced brain. It features a dashboard of options, including adaptive AGI that assists psychological behaviors and decision-making. Also neural macrosensing, conceived by nanotechnology expert Robert A. Freitas Jr., relates to medical in vivo nanorobotics for the detection of somatic states as well as extrasomatic states, such as sensory data originating outside the body.

    IV - Transhuman thought is ethically consistent and aesthetically pleasing

    Natasha: The reasons why I think design is a crucial element of transhumanism is because design, by its very nature, is about problem solving. While we are primarily focused on life extension, there is great interest in and concern about every day problems that people face. 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. Through artistic and innovative applications of design, transhumanist technologies can synthesize ethics and aesthetics.

    I have asked Natasha to comment on some actual examples of designed technology already changing our lives and their correlation to Transhuman perception of design:

    4.1 Smart Wheel chairs

    Natasha: Mobility is second nature to us, and without easy access to movement we can feel imprisoned in our bodies. A wheelchair is a type of prosthetics and prosthetics is a major area for transhumanist design. Not only do we want to live much longer, we want to be able to replace worn out body parts with newer versions. What happens if we don’t have bodies that function? My design “Primo Posthuman” is a whole body prosthetic based on emerging technologies such as regenerative biotechnology, molecular nanotechnology, neuroinformatics, and artificial general intelligence.

    The everyday products that help to protect our lives touch on the core of transhumanism. How can we expect nascent technologies to fix many of the biological problems that we face today if we do not ourselves protect our lives? Anyone who has had cancer knows what a difficult situation they are faced with. Our bodies are now a synthesis of prosthetic and biology.

    4.2 People who have lost their larynx to cancer could speak again, thanks to a device that can interpret facial movements when the wearer mouths a word

    Natasha: Having had cancer twice, I know how it feels to have to face the disease. I remember when I was 11 years old and had a tumor growing in my jaw and had to have it removed. In my Chicago-based surgeon’s waiting room, I saw people who had lost large portions of their faces. Many wore scarves to cover up what their tumors had devoured. It makes me happy to know that the field of design is helping people who have lost body parts or need new body parts.

    For a full list of confirmed speakers and additional information about the conference, please visit the conference website: Humanity+@Parsons NYC

    I think that many of us here at Space Collective will find much interest in this conference and maybe will also be able to contribute some additional insights.
    Though I am sorry to say I personally will not be able to attend, if any of you does, a Polytopian perspective added here will be much appreciated.

    Thu, May 5, 2011  Permanent link
    Categories: design, Ethics, transhumanism, Aesthetics, Humanity+, Parsons
    Sent to project: Polytopia
      RSS for this post
    Add comment
      Promote (10)
      Add to favorites
    Synapses (3)