Times: 18:00 - 19:30
Beyond Biology is a symposium by Cognitive Sensations exploring the themes behind ‘The Downloadable Brain’, co-hosted by the Centre for the Future of Intelligence. Mirroring our public programme’s curatorial framework, the event will explore three technological goals:
1) To build a machine that can think for itself.
2)To create a technological copy of a human.
3)To read another’s thoughts through their brain data.
These objectives may seem like sci-fi fantasies, but their origins can be traced right back to Greek mythological times when the first imaginings of AI were born. As strange and alien as they seem, many aspects of these innovations are already coming to fruition.
Advances in BCI technology have enabled computers to interact with users through brain activity. With the initial goal of treating brain injury and trauma, its future applications lie in more commercial settings such as gaming, social media and the workplace. Innovators such as Elon Musk even dream that BCI technology will achieve a symbiosis between humans and machines.
In the research world of transhumanism and cryonics, many scientists and technologists are working towards this utopian shift from biological to technological evolution. Reading the body as information, AI could in their view be applied to reprogram biochemistry, perhaps one day reversing the ageing process. But each of these technological achievements come with their own set of ethical issues and biological barriers.
Beyond Biology presents ground-breaking international research from three unique individuals in the field of art, anthropology and neuro-ethics; Anna Dumitriu, Dr Marcello Ienca and Abou Farman. We invite audiences to learn about the technical innovation that has inspired our programme and artists, and connect with research taking place across the world. Referencing their unique practices as artists and researchers, each will present their perspective on the moral and humanistic implications that may arise through these future developments, exploring what our biological future looks like in this complex technological shift.
About Guest Speakers:
Anna Dumitriu works with BioArt, sculpture, installation, and digital media to explore our relationship to infectious diseases, synthetic biology and robotics. She has an extensive international exhibition profile including ZKM, Ars Electronica, BOZAR, The Picasso Museum, The V&A Museum, Philadelphia Science Center, The Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei, LABoral, Art Laboratory Berlin, and The Museum of the History of Science.
Dr. Marcello Ienca
Dr Marcello Ienca is a neuroethicist and cognitive scientist working at the Department of Health Sciences and Technology at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. Ienca will present his research on the (neuro)ethical and societal implications of emerging technologies at the human-machine interface. He is the PI of the projects “Neurotechnology, Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights”, “Digitalizing Elderly Care”, and “Hybrid Minds”.
Abou Farman is a new media artist and Professor of Anthropology at The New School for Social Research. His work is concerned with immortality and the secularization processes in relation to technology, with an interest in transhumanist ideals and cryonics. His ethnographic research focused on technoscientific projects in the US attempting to achieve physical immortality is explored in his latest book, On Not Dying: Secular Immortality in the Age of Technoscience (2020).
About the Hosts:
Gabriella Warren-Smith (Cognitive Sensations)
Gabriella is the Director of Cognitive Sensations and an independent curator with a research practice in technology and the brain. She set up Cognitive Sensations in 2018 as a project exploring the neurological impact of digital devices. Through events, exhibitions, writing and art, her work raises awareness of everyday issues related to technology through curated seasons exploring subjects such as attention, memory and perception. She has presented her research with organisations such as FACT, The British Museum, Tate Liverpool and Agora Digital Arts, and is a Reviewer for Leonardo Journal.
Henry Shevlin (The Centre for the Future of Intelligence)
Henry Shevlin is a Research Associate at The Centre for the Future of Intelligence at the University of Cambridge. He leads the Consciousness and Intelligence Project and Kinds of Intelligence Reading Group, and in 2018 organised the Varieties of Mind conference.
Image credit: ArchaeaBot: A Post Singularity and Post Climate Change Life-form” by Anna Dumitriu and Alex May in collaboration with scientist Amanda Wilson (Imperial College) and Daniel Polani (University of Hertfordshire). Photo: Vanessa Graf/Ars Electronica 2018