NATASHA VITA MORE INTERVIEW
Emerging technologies: Nanotechnology, Robotics, AI, Biotech, Cognitive Technologies etc. Do you think that these technologies will show more & more tendencies to penetrate each other and create new, unpredictable forms, systems, living systems in nature? Do you think we are at the age of a new Industrial revolution?
The coming together of emerging technologies has formed what many call the domain of NBIC (nano-bio-info-cogno) as a type of convergence. However, I see it more as a synergetic process because it is not just the coming together of these technologies; it is the phenomenon of combined actions of things that becomes greater than the sum of their individual parts. Because of this interdependence, we now have new insight into how molecules are formed, how atoms can be moved, how mechanistic systems can function with biological systems, and further – to look inside the brain to begin to understand neurological functions and the unknown function we call mind. I do not think we are approaching a new industrial revolution. I think we are commencing the Molecular Age of Life where it is not just the technology, but that we can intervene with life and death, design new life forms, and ultimately reverse the onslaught of aging.
Could you please very briefly share with us your observations about the revolutionary societal impacts of major emerging tehnologies which are exponentially evolving, shaping and changing our lives and societies in incredibly different ways and dimensions.
The challenge before us is that people are living longer and aging more slowly, pushing the limits on the maximum human lifespan. In the interim, the global society is living longer, but not healthier. Japan, for example, is experiencing approximately 25% of its population being 65 and older while the birth-rate is at a standstill or potentially declining. Society views aging based on a linear structure where chronological age sets the conditions and people are demographically organized based on their age: Senior Citizens, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y or Millennials. But what will happen in the future as the generations live longer? As emerging and speculative technologies regenerate the body and intervene with the process of aging, we also need to redefine the meaning of death. The stress on economic stability, not to mention healthcare and the workforce are at issue. Because of this, the bigger issue is to strategize a road map to help people get from old-world thinking toward new-world thinking about aging. Society needs to be better equipped at navigating a course of action to help society think differently about aging, technologies of aging and a new culture of old age. This culture is about transitions, not numbers—what we might call the qualified self.
Do you think that the evolution of human being to transhuman and posthuman occur naturally? Is there a deterministic situation in this process? If yes, why? - Any scientific explanation for this deterministic situation. If not, the content and shape of transhuman evolution might change depending on the impact of we human being and unpredictable?
The evolution of humanity as a species is driven in large part by societal needs, personal desire, economics, and technological and scientific advancements. Whether or not this is a natural process is based on what people and society consider to be natural. Historically, we can look back and see where ideas that were considered unnatural become natural. Consider, in-vitro fertilization, organ transplants, stem cell cloning, spinal rejuvenation, or even flying in an airplane across the skies or sending voices and images through electrical wires to connect with another person at a distant location. These were all considered to be unnatural at one point in time. Is this evidence a deterministic process? No. It evidences the effects of systems and how variables within any given system change based on the influences of these variables. Systems may seem organized, but they are chaotic. Down on the molecular scale, atoms exist in a chaotic state. On a macro level in which humanity resides, there are numerous systems within systems that can and often do influence each other. Unintended consequences and wild cards do occur unravelling what one might call a cause and effect, but life is too vulnerable and the ecosystem is too uncertain to try to rationalize it. Humans can work to steer our future to develop sustainable systems, to be sure. But cannot be certain of the future. Nevertheless, this should not deter humanity from striving for ethical practices of technology and to strategize resolve for unintended impacts.
In the oriental culture, young people are expected to respect always their fathers, mothers, grandfathers etc. because of their ages. All of us are the consequences of our father and mother. From the evolutionary point of view, whoever dies earlier has in total lives less age or vice versa. Simply, a 15 years old teenage girl is older than her grandfather died 1 year ago. Therefore, teenage generation person, in this mentality is older than their father or mother. Do you think this perspective might cause a paradigm shift in the relationship between kids, teenager, and adults form societal, ethical values if we can redefine the who is old, who is young from the evolutionary point of view?
We are in the midst of a paradigmatic shift in how we view age and relationships between generations. Age is frequently overused and misused. Irrational prejudice oftentimes occurs in judging a person’s capabilities on the basis of the characteristics of a conditioned age group and what we presume as being typical of an age set. Yet there are different types of aging: have chronological age, physical age, functional age, emotional age, and intellectual age, for example. In the future, these distinct characteristics will blur.
What do you think about the 22nd century from the point of Transhumanism perspectives?
I often think about what the future might become through the lens of transhumanism. This lens offers possibilities of a more humane humanity. We currently exist within a world of terrorism, bullying, animal cruelty, environmental disregard, and the list goes on. The very fact that we exist together and have not been able to resolve these conflicting dark clouds of subhuman behavior is bazaar. How can we sleep at night knowing a child is hungry, a woman is stoned for being raped, or that an elderly person is left alone to fend for himself? The hope that humanity can overcome these things is what keeps most people going, whether it is based on religion, spirituality, or on strategic analysis of advancements in technology, such as nanotechnology, and possible solutions to present-day problems. I submit to the latter. For example, if nanotechnology advances to the Drexler vision of molecular manufacturing and people use desktop publishing for 3D printing of multiple substrates, then we can even see the potential for printing clothing, printing prosthetic parts, printing food. Amazing isn’t it? But it is not science fiction. The transhumanist perspective of the future century is largely based on an evolved awareness of the world, more time for creativity and innovation, developing space frontiers and travelling from Earth to near and far Earth habitats, experiencing multiple identities in multiple platforms (physical and virtual).
Can we see the future or predict the possible potential realities might occur in million years by considering the some major steps occurred in the past 13.7 billion years? Of course no one can talk about the every detail even for the next 5 years. But in the big picture if atoms and molecules with incredibly amazing phenomenon evolve into such a complex creature, we human being, what might be the new qualitative change even going beyond the transhuman and posthuman period in the future? Can we predict it? Do you think that it is possible to predict million, million years, even billion years?
Prediction is based, for the most part, on personal desire. Forecasting, on the other hand, is strategic; although, even a strategist would be could fall short of vision for the future. Science fiction has done a marvellous job at presenting narratives and scenarios for quantum change. One thing that is fairly certain is that our solar system cannot last forever. Within 5 billion years, the sun will burn the last of its hydrogen, inflate or expand to a red giant and consume Mercury and Venus. Most astrophysicists know that if humanity were to evolve, the species would have to leave our solar system. This is a key indicator that humans cannot remain biological animals. We must evolve. Nevertheless, we have a few billion years to
Would you like to share a little bit about your coming up projects bringing new approaches to art, design and technology?
I am working on a new book about Transhumanism for Inquiring Minds as a fun light read as well as a book on Transhumanist Media Art and Design. Both are under construction, so I don’t have much to say about it other than it is for anyone who wants to know reliable information about transhumanism. I have noticed that there are a lot of misconceptions and inaccuracies in articles and books that I would like to resolve.
As for design, I am currently working on a visual documentary about a scientific research project I completed. This is a bio design project with my colleague Daniel Barranco. This bio design project is about the issue of memory and cryopreservation. We worked with the C. elegans nematode, which is the first simple animal to have its entire genome sequenced, and trained the worm to perform a task through a learning protocol, we vitrified the worms in liquid nitrogen, and revived the worms and at the adult stage, we testing their memory to test if they could perform the same task. Our experiment resolved at least one small issue concerning is memory is sustained after a simple animal is revived from cryonics.
Less than 40 characters:
Infinite Creativity: Where concepts form new concepts as an iterative process.
Predictable Future: Where the future is a system of exploration rather than an end-point.
Human Design: Where the body, brain, and mind evolve together yet exponentially.
Birth-Sex & Death of a Transhuman: A regenerative generation of transformation.
Transhuman form of Natasha: Platform Diverse Body and Substrate Autonomous Mind as a means to co-exist between the material and virtual worlds.