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What is Next Nature?

With our attempts to cultivate nature, humankind causes the rising of a next nature, which is wild and unpredictable as ever. Wild systems, genetic surprises, autonomous machinery and splendidly beautiful black flowers. Nature changes along with us.

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How biotech will drive our evolution

Are you ready for some techno-optimism? Buckle up and enjoy the ride with bio-tech evangelist Gregory Stock.

Some quotes from his prophetic TED talk:

“We are seizing control of our evolutionary future. We are using technology to jam evolution into fast forward, and it is not at all clear where it is gonna take us.”

“We are taking the sand at our feet, the silicone at our feet, and are breathing a level of complexity into it, that may even surpass us.”

“What is we could unravel aging? Begin to retard the process or even revert it? It would change absolutely everything and it is obvious to everyone that if we can do this we absolutely will do this, whatever the consequences are.”

“Modifying our emotions: Ritalin, Viagra, etc. These are just absolutely baby steps.”

“Who would want to pass on to their children the archaic enhancement modules that they got 25 years ago from their parents? It’s a joke! Of course they wouldn’t want to do that! They would want the new release!”

“Now not everything that can be done, should be done. And it won’t be done. But when something is feasible in thousands of laboratories around the world, which is going to be the case with these new technologies. When there are large numbers of people that see them as beneficial, which is already the case. And when they are almost impossible to police, it is not a matter of if this is gonna happen. It is when, and where and how it is gonna happen.”

“Humanity is going to go down this path… because we are human.”

“The lines are going to blur, between therapy and enhancement. Between treatment and prevention and between need and desire.”

“We should not kid ourselves and think we are going to reach a consensus about these things. That is not going to happen. They touch us too deeply and they depend too much upon history, upon philosophy, upon culture, upon politics. And some people are going to see this a an abomination, as the worst thing, as awful. And other people are going to say: This is great, this is the flowering of human endeavor.”

“We are not just observing this, we are the architects of this. I think we should be proud of it. What is so difficult and challenging is that we are also the objects of these changes.”

“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, both glory and danger alike. And yet notwithstanding they go out and they meet it.”

Seems like a brave new world out there, although one wonders, if the cave men – in their own time – organized something similar to TED conferences where they discussed the opportunities & threats of their newly gained ability to ‘play with fire’.

Gregory Stock’s position regarding human enhancements also reminded me of Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind, written by Marquis de Condorcet (1743 – 1794) at the beginning of the enlightenment period, although I recon Gregory Stock is less naive than De Condorcet, so that is progress.

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