Tag: Technorhetoric


Deus Ex: The EyeBorg Documentary

Back in 2009 Rob Spence, a cyborg film maker, worked together with a team of ocularists, inventors, engineering specialists on a prosthetic eye which can capture and stream video. He then started the project: EyeBorg.

Commissioned by the makers of ‘Deus Ex: Human Revolution‘, a game which tells the story of the year 2027 where cyborgs are the norm, he needed to figure out how far we currently are from that future. In his 12 minute documentary he meets leading scientists in biotechnology and fellow cyborgs. It shows we are not far from a future where cyborgs are the norm.

Rob says: “People are going to have the option of having superior arms, superior eyes at some point. People say no one would ever cut off their own arm and replace it, but if the technology gets there – and it looks like it will – people will think about it. They might be early adopters.”

Via EyeBorg – Sky News


Drugs are Nuts

Thinking about Next Nature can sometimes result in a feeling of vertigo. Normal standards are eroded and slowly replaced by next natural ones. A bewildering example can be found in a letter the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent to a manufacturer of walnuts.

Based on claims made on your firm’s website, we have determined that your walnut products are promoted for conditions that cause them to be drugs because these products are intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease. The following are examples of the claaims made on your firm’s website under the heading of a web page stating “OMEGA-3s … Every time you munch a few walnuts, you’re doing your body a big favor.”

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northern corn rootworm
Manufactured Animals

Monsanto’s Technorhetoric Kills Corn

Mega-agro-biotech corporation Monsanto recently denied that insects have developed resistance to their patented Bt corn. Injected with a bacterial gene toxic to corn rootworms, Bt corn has proven so successful with farmers that it now makes up 65 percent of the corn planted in the US. Fields of wilting, dying corn are now following years of massive popularity. Bt-resistant worms have been found in Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota, and are likely to continue spreading.

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Back to the Tribe

Why Handwriting Must Die

Associate professor Anne Trubek argues that handwriting will soon be history, because writing words by hand is a technology that’s just too slow for our times, and our minds. A copy-paste summary from her essay:

“Handwriting has been around for just 6,000 of humanity’s some 200,000 years. Its effects have been enormous, of course: It alters the brain, changes with civilizations, cultures and factions, and plays a role in religious and political battles.”

“Most of us know, but often forget, that handwriting is not natural. We are not born to do it. There is no genetic basis for writing. Writing is not like seeing or talking, which are innate. Writing must be taught.”

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Let the Algorithms Roam Free

In this TED talk, Kevin Slavin explains how computer algorithms are breaking free of their virtual habitats and changing the physical world to their liking. Through algorithms, humans are starting to understand the physics of culture. Can we use that knowledge to our advantage, or are we just spectators of a game we don’t quite know the rules of?


Human Augmentation™

As a gamer, I come across many visions of possible futures. But this trailer from the upcoming video game Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the third part in the Deus Ex series shocked me with its convincing message.

Prosthetic limbs have been perfected, and in this world people are exchanging their completely functional limbs for better and improved parts. But what are the dangers of doing this? Except for the many ethical questions it proposes, it also lays our humanity in the hands of corporations. What if, just as the trailer suggests, we need to take drugs to keep our bodies from rejecting the augmentations? Will we start to despise those who give up their organic ‘parts’ for better ones? Or look up to them?


Retro-futuristic Weather Machine

Geo-engineering avant la lettre. This is what 19th century people thought a 21th century weather machine would look like. This retro-futuristic postcard was produced around 1900 by Hildebrands – a leading German chocolate company of that time. Unsure whether the device was envisioned to run on steam. Via Paleo Future.

hiking using cell phone

Humane Technology #6: Improve the Human Condition

And now for the sixth and final principle: Humane technology improves the human condition and helps people realize the dreams they have of themselves.

No matter what your government might be telling you, we probably don’t need better defense technology. Instead of killer robots and city-leveling bombs, we need tech that adds to the very best in ourselves- our health, our minds and our dreams for the future. Naturalist E.O Wilson’s notion of biophilia should not be limited just to humans. Technology should love life as much as we do.

Humane technology, as a concept, can be tricky to pin down. What is humane in one circumstance is irritating or destructive in another. A cell phone may be more humane than a landline, permitting the talker to wander around, free to conduct business or call home from the far side of the globe. But cell phones may be inhumane for precisely this reason. A Blackberry or iPhone can seem less like an indispensable fifth limb than a second mouth that just won’t shut up. A technology can never defined as entirely humane or entirely inhumane. There is no end point that makes a certain device ‘humane.’ We may not know it by how it looks, but we will know it by how it feels.



Trips to the Moon

When watching a science fiction flick, it can be hard to determine what time in the future it is set, although this is a usually an integral part of the movie. However, it is often obvious in which year the movie was made. The combination of costumes, cinematography, CGI, and content create an overall feeling that immediately makes you aware of when it was made. The celebrity actors are a dead give-away as well. Even the CGI capabilities of this post-Avatar-era are not enough to fool us- compare Jeff Bridges in Tron and Tron: Legacy.

The future depicted in these films always seems to follow the present in a linear fashion, while the actual future turns out to be wild, chaotic and unpredictable. Instead of an overview of correct predictions, the legacy of science fiction movies represents an interesting insight in the thoughts of people throughout the years. How the moon is depicted can be particularly telling of a given era’s mindset.  In Le Voyage dan la Lune, for example, the moon is shown as having a lush Earth-like ecosystem that makes for a grand adventure.  In Duncan Jones’ Moon, the moon has become much more like a true wilderness, isolated and uncaring.

It makes me wonder how will the moon be presented in science fiction movies over the next decade.  Will it be overrun with nanotechnology, restored to a next natural landscape, or be another base for Jeff Bridges?

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