Tag: Anthropomorphobia

Anthropomorphobia

Further Incredibly Shrinking Man

At the last Next Nature Power Show, artist Arne Hendriks gave a lustrous talk on the possibilities of downsizing humanity to better fit the earth.

Last week Arne gave a longer talk on the same topic at TEDxBrainport. Interestingly enough in this new talk Arne not only promotes shrinking humanity as a means to avoid all kinds of overpopulation related disasters, but also adds a positive reason to his argument: shrinking humans could be a way to realize the long dream of human powered flight.

The crucial question: if human eugenics ever becomes acceptable should it be employed strictly to avoid disasters or also to realize human dreams? If we choose for the latter, why not add some wings? Anything is possible, as long as we avoid a situation in which humans don’t recognize each other as humans anymore.

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Anthropomorphobia

The NBIC Convergence: When Machines and Matter ‘Have Sex’

The Singularity, as popularized by Ray Kurtzweil, refers to a near term, theoretical time when machine intelligence greatly surpasses our own. At this point we will experience a transition in our culture that poses an event horizon, beyond which future events cannot possibly be predicted or understood. Although Kurtzweil is no better placed than any of us to imagine what ‘The Singularity’ actually involves, he discusses our transition towards this point as ‘technologically enlightened’ humans increasingly upgrade their natural bodies with devices. As our physical substance becomes more technological, he proposes that we become more closely allied with machines rather than other humans. Those that reject the progressive mechanization of the human body are destined to play a secondary, if not vestigial position in the evolution of our species.

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Anthropomorphobia

Twitter Implant becomes a Reality

You all probably know the ‘Twitter implant‘ from the Nano Supermarket. Scientist at the University of Princeton now created the first working prototype.

The implant is actually a sensor which could be tattooed on a tooth. The tattoo could diagnose an infection and transmit that information to a medic. This would be useful for military personnel to determine wether or not a wound becomes infectious.

Although the tattoo does not exactly twitter your coffee intake, it is a big step in monitoring over distance. I wonder which Nano Supermarket product would be next to become reality?

Via Gizmodo

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Anthropomorphobia

Monkeys Fall into the ‘Uncanny Valley’ Too

The uncanny valley, a phrase coined by Japanese robotic researcher Masahiro Mori nearly three decades ago, describes the uncanny feeling that occurs when people look at representations designed to be as human-like as possible – whether computer animations or androids – but somehow fall short. It turns out monkeys have that too.

In an attempt to answer deeper questions about the evolutionary basis of communication, Princeton University researchers have found that macaque monkeys also fall into the uncanny valley, exhibiting this reaction when looking at computer-generated images of monkeys that are close but less than perfect representations.

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Anthropomorphobia

Arne Hendriks – Incredible Shrinking Man

The human population is expected to grow to 9 billion within this century. As a result we need more energy, more food and more space. If we continue our current consumptive patterns we soon need three planets. But what if we could turn this trend around?

Artist Arne Hendriks explores the possibilities and implications of downsizing the human species to better fit the earth. Can we do it?

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Anthropomorphobia

Is the Human Body Redundant?

The increasing ‘liveliness’ of machines and accessibility to the virtual world has raised questions about whether it is possible to uncouple the mind from the body in through a host of different strategies. The basic idea is that if we are able to escape the ties of our own flesh then we can upgrade them and even replace them with immortal ones. Performance artist Stelarc has made some of the most extreme and enduring work on this subject. The artist characteristically depersonalises his anatomy and claims that it is not only an object that can be subjected to re-designing but is also ‘obsolete’. During his performances, Stelarc mentally ‘vacates’ his own body to prove its obsolescence, and claims that his body is no more than a site for redesigning and re-engineering the human form.

In my view, Stelarc’s work paradoxically highlights the profound importance that embodiment holds for being human. When Stelarc dissociates his mind from his body he demonstrates its sheer plasticity and robustness. The artist then recolonizes the body with robots, communications technologies and soft prostheses as proof of this inbuilt physical redundancy. Yet the machines he hosts are given context by the presence of a body – for in its absence, they are just a collection of machines devoid of meaning. Moreover, redundancy is a characteristic of complex systems, which are a form of organization that does not obey the Cartesian, dualistic laws that govern machines. The artist’s rejection of these qualities simply highlights that the human body is not a machine.

There is nothing liberating about having an anesthetized body, nor one that is functionally redundant. While Stelarc’s suspensions and performances demonstrate that we can temporarily ‘forget’ our bodies in order to explore a transcendent state of being, there are those who live in a permanent state of disconnection.

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Anthropocene

Will Eugenics Become an Acceptable Strategy to Avoid Climate Change?

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of today and various scenarios, ranging from artificial trees, pollution trading, co2 capturing to geo-engineering, have been proposed to cope with planetary heating. Most of these existing strategies, however, focus on the altering our environment, but as global warming is inflicted by people, why not start at the root of the issue and change humanity itself to cope with climate change?

Recently New York University bioethics professor S Matthew Liao published a paper (PDF) in Ethics, Policy and the Environment arguing that one way to tackle the challenges of a rise in energy use is to modify humanity to simply use less energy.

The researchers argue biomedical modifications of humans so that they can reduce and/or adapt to climate change is potentially less risky than geo-engineering. They suggests a range of ways to achieve this, from creating an aversion to meat by giving diners a mild intolerance to it, to using gene therapy to create smaller children.

Although eugenics, the deliberate “improvement” of the genetic composition of people, has been in disfavor since its mid-20th century association with Nazi Germany, the researchers argue it “deserves further consideration in the debate about climate change”. Apparently radical problems require radical measures? Certainly next nature causes more next nature.

Via Wired. Download the entire paper (PDF)

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Anthropomorphobia

Internet Traffic is now 51% Non-Human

So you thought the Internet was made by and for people? Think again. A study by Incapsula, a provider of cloud-based security for web sites (mind you where this data comes from), concludes that 51% of all Internet traffic is generated by non-human sources such as hacking software, scrapers and automated spam mechanisms. While 20% of the 51% non-human traffic is’ good’, the 31% majority of this non-human traffic is potentially malicious.

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