Human Enhancement Project - Natasha Vita-More - H+ Summit @ Harvard


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This talk addresses the historical perspective of human enhancement as stemming from second-order cybernetics, Gregory Bateson, Heinz Von Forester and the Biological Computer Lab. The continued use of computer-based augmentation of human physiology has lead toward human-NBIC enhancement media, but is not limited to this quartet. The media also includes information technologies such as automation, robotics, AI, and simulation processes.

Included in this perspective is that the first area of concern for enhancement is that of logic: "We must restrict our focus on the zone where desire and feasibility intersect." (Stock 1992, 97)

I frame this sensibility as a second-order enhancement cybernetics, which includes social engineering and individual plasticity. Each person is an enhancement project as well as the observer of the project. Second-order cybernetics suggests that the observer is a necessary aspect of what is being observed; however, it does not assign a behavioral trait to the observer. Like cybernetics, there is a circular system in which feedback provides information which helps us adjust and adapt to change. Unlike cybernetics, the circular loop is spiraling rather than a closed system. This feedback helps us focus on the zone where desire and feasibility intersect and, further, toward develop long-range plans for a posthuman evolution. The relationship between the project, the observer, feedback, and adaptation is further influenced by a fourth attribute—what I introduce as an automorphic behavior within a social ecology.

Natasha Vita-More, media artist and theorist, is a frequent guest speaker on topics concerning the future in the international arena. She is best known as designer of "Primo Posthuman". Her writings have been published in numerous books, she has appeared in more than twenty-four televised documentaries, and featured in magazines including The New York Times, Wired, Village Voice, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, U.S. News & World Report, Net Business, and Teleopolis. Natasha is a Fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, Visiting Scholar at 21st Century Medicine, Scientific Board of Lifeboat Foundation, and advises non-profit organizations including Alcor Life Extension Foundation. She was formerly president of Extropy Institute from 2002-2005. As a bit of history, Natasha authored the "Transhuman Statement", Create/Recreate: the 3rd Millennial Culture (cybernetic culture and the future of humanism and the arts and sciences). In the early 1990s, she hosted the TV show "Transcentury UPdate" and was elected to the Green Party as a Los Angeles Councilperson.

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Human Enhancement Project - Natasha Vita-More - H+ Summit @ Harvard

  1. 1. HUMAN ENHANCEMENT PROJECT H e d s Rise of the Citizen Scientist Natasha Vita-More PhD Res, Univ. Plymouth Board of Directors, Humanity+
  2. 2. HUMAN ENHANCEMENT PROJECT H e d s Design Science
  3. 3. HUMAN ENHANCEMENT PROJECT The project began in the late 1990s with designs for a posthuman prototype. From 2004 to 2008, the project developed a theory of human enhancement linking available information on a scientific, technological and philosophical approach to human futures. From 2008 to the 2010, the project has been dealing with a central issue for the near-term—staying alive.
  5. 5. 1.8 deaths per second worldwide, meaning that there are over 100 deaths per minute. There are over 150,000 deaths per day and over 55 million deaths per year. 21.6 deaths every 12 seconds
  6. 6. PREDICAMENT The predicament human enhancement faces is mostly behavioral–what we desire and what is feasible. Much of this has to do with what we want to control and why we need to control it. For human enhancement, the control factor is to stay alive. One way we can do this is by changing what is considered as the normal human condition. For those opposed to enhancement, the control factor is to die. One way they can do this is to restrain our condition by keeping disease alive.
  7. 7. Symbols Philosophy Narratives Religion Visuals Spirituality Fear Society & Beliefs Hope Activism Anxiety Ethics & DESIGN Marketing/ SCIENCE Culture Culture Biopolitics Consumers PRACTICE Design/Arts NBIC+ & Sciences AI/AGI Robotics Science & Technology Virtuality Whole brain emulation Simulation Disembodied cognition Bio-Synthetics connective intelligence
  8. 8. Plasticity, Protection, Preservation BRAIN Flexibility, Strength, BODY Disease Control Perception, Reflexivity, BEHAVIOR Connectivity Cognition Quotient
  9. 9. Stay alive IDEA Increase Cognition Quotient MEANS METHOD The interrelationship of brain, body and behavior
  10. 10. Brain  system Second-order enhancement plasticity cybernetics. • Feedback loop • Adaptation • Decision assist The user-agent- • Error correction observer guides • Multiple viewpoints • Prosthetic the enhanced neo-cortex attributes of its own system. automorphic software Wearable or in-system • experience memory • persona recordation • relay between avatars
  11. 11. ds
  12. 12. Designer, Frog Design Designer, QIS Design Designer, Mikhail St-Denis Designer, Pouvan Mokhtarani
  13. 13. How to know Self-tracking systems / well-being Info links behavior What to know health Need to know risks MEMTABLE Designers, Seth Hunter with Jenny Chan, Katie Harrington, Emily Zhao, Alexander Milouchev, and Michael Kuo MEMTABLE Designers, Sajid Sadi and Marcelo Coelho
  14. 14. Info links design process practicality of enhancement Technology Evolution human-technology integration HUMAN HUMAN Cybernetics ENHANCEMENT Self-directed ENHANCEMENT Computer Media NBIC Media human-futures conceptualization Evolution Design Praxis
  15. 15. Info links Futures Scenarios Cybernetics Future Studies Hu[man]- machine cyborg transhuman posthuman Existence Identity Transhumanism Functionalism Evolution Metaphysics Ethics Biopolitics Philosophy
  16. 16. Historical Cybernetics: Establishing a Framework of Human Enhancement  Historical Praxis of Emerging field of Heds  Regeneration of Personal Existence as a foundation  Existence over space and time  Sciences: Hard and Soft Human Human Enhancement as a Field Enhancement  Defining human enhancement  Relationship to cybernetics  Free Will, Survival and Evolution  Regeneration of personal existence  Existence over space and time Design Human Enhancement within Practices Practices  Locating Evidence of HE in arts  Assessment of HCI, Body Art, Robotics, Conceptual Art, Wearables, Performance Art, Prosthetics, Biological Art  Comparisons between artistic fields which engage transdisciplinary media to produce full concept Technologies Human Enhancement Media  Media of human enhancement – NBIC+  Links between Science, Technology and Art Philosophy Philosophies and Theories of Human Futures and Theory  Stemming out of Cybernetics  Stemming from Transhumanism  Stemming from Posthumanism  Analyzing the Cyborg, Transhuman, Posthuman Future Designing a Field Scenarios  Investigating Experts within fields of NBIC+  Links to artistic practice and theory  Future Scenarios of Human Enhancement Media
  17. 17. HUMAN ENHANCEMENT PROJECT H H ee dd ss Rise of the Citizen Scientist Rise of the Citizen Scientist
  18. 18. HUMAN ENHANCEMENT PROJECT H e d s Rise of the Citizen Scientist Natasha Vita-More PhD Res, Univ. Plymouth Board of Directors, Humanity+