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.