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Category Archives: Transhumanism

Why haven’t we heard more from the human rights bureaucracy about Covid and our liberties? – The Spectator Australia

Posted: August 5, 2021 at 1:55 am

Just about everyone would agree that a child born in Australia should have the same opportunities and rights as any other Australian child. Race, disability, or religious belief should not be a barrier to what they can do or what they can achieve or where they can go.

These are human rights. They are built into various declarations that form cornerstones of liberal democracies around the world.

But what about human rights regarding their medical status?

The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has signalled that states may be allowed to stop people from travelling based on whether or not they have been vaccinated. Surely we need to talk about the ethics of this.

Vaccines are unlike other medicines because they dont seek to cure illness or return us to our normal function. They provide upgrades to our natural characteristics namely immunity.

There is a word to describe changing the characteristics of humans like this it is transhumanism.

If you think this sounds like science fiction you would be right. The 1997 dystopian movieGattaca is the common pop culture reference for discussions around the ethics of transhumanism. In this film a genetic registry database is used to classify people who are created with eugenics as valids while people who are conceived naturally and more susceptible to diseases are known as invalids.

There are already some intriguing developments in transhumanism. Recently, there has been progress on developing mind-controlled prosthetics that may allow prosthetic limbs to convey sensation to amputees. Its a small step from using this technology for restoring bodily function to upgrading it. Nootropic or performance-enhancing drugs, which improve cognitive or physical abilities, could also create a form of transhumanism.

An important distinction is that these actions do not confer special rights that are denied to others, but we should have no problem with informed individuals choosing to change themselves.

But the pandemic is a game-changer. It means that government policy on this issue could impact on hundreds of millions of people. The pandemic led to a massive effort around the world to develop vaccines, and the emergence of new technologies such as mRNA vaccines have the potential to revolutionise medical care.

So the future has arrived, but have the ethics been fully considered? Medical technology has the capability of creating different categories of humans and, if we are not careful, a new tier of second class citizens - the invalids.

Should the state discriminate against a person who is unvaccinated? Or should they protect them from discrimination?

What about those left behind? Allowing states to discriminate against people who choose not to be vaccinated is a form of medical apartheid. It has the potential to be a major problem for unvaccinated people from remote areas or third world countries which would be like discriminating against people for being simply human and poor.

It could also be a problem for others who may have religious or medical reasons not to have a jab, or children who remain unvaccinated through no choice of their own.

Before we start locking people out of states and denying their right to freedom of movement, this is a very serious ethical issue that should be discussed and considered from a human rights perspective.

Unfortunately, the form is not good, because we have seen many human rights issues tossed aside during the pandemic with little or no thought.

The Victorian Ombudsmans office is the only independent body to have investigated human rights issues in detail in relation to the pandemic. Following an investigation into the lockdown of public housing towers in Melbourne last year, Ombudsman Deborah Glass found the actions of the government breached the Victorian Human Rights Charter.

Despite her damning report, it seems doubtful the Victorian Government learnt anything at all, because they still refuse to apologise.

This example of a disproportionate response is just the tip of the iceberg.

Forget about circuit breaker lockdowns, we need to break the circuit of government over-reach. We need to take at least a little time to reassess the implications for human rights.

Are we marching blindly into a world where discrimination against people for simply being human becomes acceptable and commonplace? Im sure that some will argue that this is an emergency and the normal rules shouldnt apply. But if we abandon our principles for this, then what are they worth?

We can start by respecting peoples liberty and their medical choices. We need to stop demonising people who, for whatever reason, would rather not have the needle or are unable to be vaccinated.

David Limbrick is the Liberal Democrats MLC for Victorias South East Metropolitan region.

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Cameras Roll On David Cronenberg Sci-Fi Crimes Of The Future With Viggo Mortensen, La Seydoux, Kristen Stewart; More Cast Join – Deadline

Posted: at 1:55 am

Filming is underway in Europe on David Cronenbergs Crimes Of The Future, starring Viggo Mortensen, La Seydoux, Kristen Stewart and Scott Speedman.

Joining the cast are Tanaya Beatty (Yellowstone), Nadia Litz (Big Muddy), Yorgos Karamichos (The Durrells), and Yorgos Pirpassopoulos (Beckett). Also previously announced were Welket Bungu (Berlin Alexanderplatz), Don McKellar (Blindness), and Lihi Kornowski (Losing Alice).

The film shoots in Athens, Greece until September 2021.

The film takes a deep dive into the not-so-distant future where humankind is learning to adapt to its synthetic surroundings. The evolution moves humans beyond their natural state and into a metamorphosis, altering their biological makeup. While some embrace the limitless potential of transhumanism, others attempt to police it. Either way, Accelerated Evolution Syndrome, is spreading fast.

As we begin filming Crimes Of The Future, just two days into this new adventure with David Cronenberg, it feels like weve entered a story he collaborated on with Samuel Beckett and William Burroughs, if that were possible, said Mortensen. We are being pulled into a world that is not quite like this or any other, and yet is one that feels strangely familiar, immediate and quite credible. I cant wait to see where we end up.

Produced by Robert Lantos, the film reunites Cronenberg with three-time Oscar nominee Mortensen in their fourth collaboration. The movie marks Cronenbergs first original screenplay since eXistenZ in 1999. The film is also the fourth collaboration between Lantos and Cronenberg.

Panos Papahadzis is producer for Athens-based Argonauts Productions and Steve Solomos is co-producer. Executive producers include Joe Iacono, Thorsten Schumacher, Peter Touche, Christelle Conan, Aida Tannyan, Victor Loewy, and Victor Hadida. Bonnie Do and Laura Lanktree are associate producers.

Production designer is Carol Spier (Crash) and composer is Howard Shore (The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy). Douglas Koch (Funny Boy) is cinematographer, with Mayou Trikerioti (Pari) as costume designer, Dimitris Katsikis (Fugitive Pieces) as art director, and Stefanos Efthymiou is sound recordist.

Pic will be distributed worldwide by distributors including Neon (USA), MK2|Mile End (Canada), Metropolitan (France), Weltkino (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), The Searchers (Benelux), Argonauts Productions (Greece), Front Row (Middle East), Capella (CIS/ the Baltic States), and Moviecloud (Taiwan). Rocket Science is handling international sales.

The Canada-Greece co-production is produced in association with Ingenious Media, Coficine, Telefilm Canada, Bell Media, CBC, and the Harold Greenberg Fund, with the support of EKOME and the GFC.

Cameras Roll On David Cronenberg Sci-Fi Crimes Of The Future With Viggo Mortensen, La Seydoux, Kristen Stewart; More Cast Join - Deadline

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Five minutes with Rafe Johnson – 2021 – Articles – Transform magazine

Posted: July 21, 2021 at 2:41 am

How did you begin working on the development and ideation of a bionic heart?

I was approached by The Science Museum of Minnesota to design and develop experiences for an upcoming exhibition based around transhumanism, the process of humans merging with technology. One of these projects was to create a 3D hologram animation that presents a series of futuristic bionic organs using the peppers ghost concept which presents the hologram. What I found particularly interesting, and challenging was conceptualising a bionic heart through digital design. I was tasked with designing something that was both visually compelling and yet believable, the design concept had to be to be physiologically so that if it was used to design the physical product it could be implanted into someone, connecting the tubing to their arteries.

The goal of this exhibition, which runs parallel with my own goals, is to introduce the public to the world of human enhancement in an exciting and informative way, and what is more engaging than a holographic image of futuristic implants? There is plenty of science fiction that considers bionic bodies, but they tend to paint a dystopian world that makes us fear technological progress rather than welcome it; I believe its essential we paint an exciting picture of the future in which the capabilities of humans are vastly expanded, and I feel this exhibition portrays that perfectly.

What will designing in AR look like ten years away?

Whilst the fundamental process of designing is unlikely to change, the tools we use during the process certainly will. Augmented reality (AR) is one of the most interesting and exciting tools that can be used for this. As computers continue to reduce in size and increase in power we will see AR devices like the Microsoft Hololens reduce in size from bulky headsets to glasses to contact lenses and eventually brain implants. All aspects of the design process from research to prototyping will become faster, more streamlined and more connected, with areas of design most affected being concepting/prototyping and collaboration. We will be able to design, prototype, package and release our creations on one single platform, just as we often do with computers now. Our freedom to design where and when will be improved, despite your location; and our ability to collaborate will greatly increase as you'll be able to sync with collaborators anywhere in the world and instantly feel like you are in the same room as them. Discussing changes to your car design that's represented digitally in front of you, quickly making tweaks to the cars surfacing or perhaps the paint finish. At Seymourpowell we are already utilizing this technology, for example, when we were building the interior of Virgin Galactic's spaceship, I could be in my home in VR taking in feedback from a 3D avatar representation of my colleagues as we analyzed the inside of the ship. This allowed me to test and identify issues far more closely and talk to top designers around the UK.

What role does extended reality (XR) play in the world of transhumanism?

XR will play a very prominent role in the world of transhumanism, perhaps one of the most important roles. It's worth asking what reality is at this point. Reality in its simplest form is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent within a system. Our experience of reality is largely defined by our senses. If our sensory organs and brains can be adjusted, then so can our reality. In decades to come we may be able to experience things we cant yet comprehend. Neuroscientist David Eagleman is already exploring sensory substitution, creating a vest that converts audio data to vibrations, allowing users to feel sounds. His findings show that after some time users who have lost their hearing can start to understand what others are saying through these vibrations. As AR becomes more integrated into our lives, the more we will rely on extended reality technologies, just as we rely so heavily on our mobile phones now. Elon Musk argues that our attachment to mobile phones already makes us a form of early cyborg, imagine trying to go about your daily life without using a mobile phone. Whilst some voice understandable concern about having technologies so closely connected to our bodies, there are huge benefits, especially in the medical world. We will develop a much closer understanding and level of control of our own bodies and XR will be our primary way of interfacing with this.

What is the future of neural implants and how is the design process defining this?

A neural implant is a piece of technology implanted into the brain. Currently they're in the very early stages, however, many neuroscientists and tech leaders are working on prototypes and testing. It's likely the first brain implants will be used for medical purposes like repairing eyesight or reversing effects of other neural based diseases. The technology will inevitably move into the world of brain enhancement, for example a brain computer interface (BCI), which does exactly what youd think, connects your brain directly to a computer. Once we step into the world of altering and enhancing our brains, we really begin to consider the reality of turning ourselves into super humans, science fiction no more! Imagine a world in which brain enhanced humans can learn languages overnight or perhaps communicate telepathically. It will eventually become as easy as closing your eyes and plugging into the virtual world. As with all technologies and inventions, neural implants are driven and developed by the design process. It's the designers job to plan and direct the development of these technologies and ensure the best possible outcome. As with any design project, the prototyping phase is critical in testing and understanding which paths to take, and to help avoid any possible detrimental outcomes.

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Not Even This by Jack Underwood review fatherhood, philosophy and fear – The Guardian

Posted: May 13, 2021 at 1:45 am

About three years ago, the poet Jack Underwood became a father for the first time. The responsibility weighed heavily: he recalls feeling that there should have been more paperwork. We signed a form or two and then they just sort of let us take you away. A human child. A few months later, he started having panic attacks his love for his daughter had rendered him utterly fucked with worry. He decided to write about it, which helped: my breathing regulated, my thoughts took shape, giving direction to my feelings; finding my thinking voice was like opening an enormous valve. The resulting book is a thoughtful essay-memoir on parenthood, in which Underwood recounts how he learned to manage his angst to live within the fear by embracing uncertainty.

Not Even This takes its title from the ancient philosopher Carneades of Cyrene, who remarked that Nothing can be known; not even this. It is a hybrid work, alternating between two distinct modes of writing: an epistolary memoir in the second person, addressed to the authors daughter; and a freewheeling meditation on the theme of uncertainty, touching on assorted matters of quantum physics, neuroscience, etymology, history, economics and technology. These include, among other things, the disagreement between Albert Einstein and Henri Bergson as to whether time exists independently of human beings; the biomedical ethics of transhumanism; the prospect of the technological singularity, when digital superintelligence will transcend the human intellect; the way time seems to slow down when were doing something interesting; the anomalousness of wave-particles; the reality behind the myth of Joan of Arc.

The gist? Knowledge is inherently tenuous, mutable renegotiable, political and socialised, and the craving for certainty is at the root of many societal ills. The financial system, for example, is wedded to certain rigid orthodoxies that are periodically disproved, with disastrous consequences: When we mistake the power of finance for certainty in its workings, then we only hand it more power, more confidence, and so permit it to act less and less reasonably. Fallibility is integral to human progress, so its best to go with the flow: a parent has little choice but to learn to trust a child to become themselves, and such trust is a kind of love.

The idea of trust also informs his approach to creative writing. Underwood, whose first poetry collection, Happiness, was published by Faber in 2015, sees poetry as a form of dissonant, unruly, uncertain knowledge, in which language is provisional, equivocal, interpretable. The process of composition is built on two-way trust: trusting the reader to get it, and trusting yourself, as a writer, to make yourself understood. Unlike many poets, Underwood doesnt save multiple drafts of his poems, but restricts himself to a single document and if I ruin it well, never mind Maybe I need the fear, the slight risk, to force myself to take responsibility for the poem in my care I have to move forwards in one vulnerable, resolute trajectory.

Underwood rejects the platitudinous notion that having kids turns you into a better person If anything parenthood has made us more selfish, more insular, always directing our hearts resources inwards. But he is, by his own account, a sentimental sort (I find old batteries funereal. I thank cash machines and postboxes), and this is what gives this book its charm. He reminisces fondly about his daughters first unaided steps, and sympathetically recalls how, during the first few months of her life, she would become extremely unsettled a neurotic, crotchety recluse whenever he had guests round: A roomful of strangers bursting out laughing must have been a grotesque, hyperreal tableau of teeth and gums. He believes silliness is intrinsic to intimacy, and encourages her to feast, you daft little cherub. There is practically nothing in life better than being incredibly silly. Elsewhere, overcome with love, he gushes endearments: My bag of fish. My cuddling gammon. Look at you go! Jesus Christ. Let me count the ways.

This is Underwoods first book of nonfiction prose and, like most debuts, it has its flaws. The central argument is somewhat woolly almost any subject might be obliquely tethered to uncertainty and Underwoods rhapsodic lyricism sails dangerously close to feyness at times. But he is a lucid and engaging companion. The voice that comes through in these pages is immensely likable humble, conscientious and emotionally intelligent. The books format flitting back and forth between disquisition and memoir every few pages serves the reader well: the essayistic meanderings are kept in check, and the autobiographical candour doesnt cloy.

A number of recent books on fatherhood have examined the subject through the prism of masculinity. These include Charlie Gilmours Featherhood (2020), Caleb Klaces Fatherhood (2019), Toby Litts Wrestliana (2018), Howard Cunnells Fathers and Sons (2017) and William Giraldis The Heros Body (2017). Though Not Even This also touches questions of gender, the scope of its existential inquiry is broader: Underwoods overarching theme is fear and fear, as he rightly points out, is what underpins the less savoury aspects of conventional masculinity. For all his fretfulness, this is an upbeat book. Underwoods dread gave way to a sanguine sense of purpose and self-sacrifice: Ive experienced a shift in my personhood, he writes, and acquired this sense of my body as happy collateral, a buffer of meat. Im not the important one in my life any more.

Not Even This: Poetry, Parenthood & Living Uncertainly by Jack Underwood is published by Corsair (14.99). To order a copy go to Delivery charges may apply.

Not Even This by Jack Underwood review fatherhood, philosophy and fear - The Guardian

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Is Biohacking The Future Of Skincare? – British Vogue

Posted: December 29, 2020 at 4:51 am

When it comes to skincare, Croatian-born, London-based skin health specialist Jasmina Vico insists on taking a holistic approach. Using skin as an indicator for whats happening inside the body and vice versa, when treating someone Vico looks at gut health, sleeping patterns, stress levels, micronutrient intake, overall diet, and stress levels, which she combines with her bespoke laser treatments, needling, LED facials, and gentle acid peels. There are no quick fixes only continuous care and the investment should be long term, she warns. Its an approach that has earnt her a cult following, including make-up artist Isamaya Ffrench, actors Killing Eves Jodie Comer and The Crowns Claire Foy, and model Shanina Shaik.

With a belief in the power of prevention and a keen interest in biohacking, Vico imagines a future where we will be able to hack our own bodies with the help of science and advanced technologies in order to prolong our lifespan tracking our sleep patterns, monitoring our gut health and even printing our own skin. Here, she shares her predictions for the future of skincare, debunks some of the myths and misconceptions underpinning the industry, and outlines the best ways to protect your skin.

Over-using products that are not suitable for your skin type or condition is something Im correcting and educating my clients about daily. More importantly, spending your hard-earned money on skincare can be a folly if you are not protecting your skin every day from the sun and HEV blue light. Protection is key. There is a misunderstanding that the skin is a surface.

Follow the science is a phrase weve all heard a lot of recently, but when it comes to skincare you cant hear it enough. Many products and procedures promise results that the science if it exists at all does not back up. I also think there has been a lack of industry-led focus on education around the impact that lifestyle choices have on our skin.

My own skincare approach is focused on prevention inside and outside. Im interested in gut health, micronutrient intake, overall diet, regular sleep patterns, and stress levels. Staying out of the sun is obviously the big one. Reducing inflammation is my mission. Inflammation ages the skin, weakening its structure, and degrading the collagen and elastin. Our diet sugar being the worst offender our stress levels and our environment [chemicals/pollution] all profoundly impact and exacerbate inflammation.

Many of us are living at such speed and all of us experience stress. Its necessary to unplug. The Japanese practice shinrin-yoku which translates as forest bathing: a walk in the forest, phone-free, using your senses we could all take a leaf out of that book. A walk in nature, meditation, breathwork, slowing down and being present: these practises have skin benefits too.

Flawlessness is an unrealistic goal. That doesnt mean we cant dramatically improve our skin and make it be the best version of itself. I am a problem solver and one of the things I do is identify issues even when they arent visible and find solutions.

I think the future will focus more on prevention than it has done and at a cellular level. Well be tracking our sleep patterns and sleep depth with monitors on our beds and using grounding mats to help reduce inflammation. Well use our own personal 3D skin printers to deposit sheets of skin, which sounds wild but a handheld printer has already been developed to deposit bio-ink on large burns to help with wound recovery.

Skin bio-printing will use self-assembling peptides and amino acids that create almost a scaffolding-like structure that grows within the skin. There are going to be more devices and bio-electrics, bio-tech and nanorobots to track our sleep because sleep is one of the most important things for skin.

I am naturally a curious person I want to know how the body works, to understand how we age, increasing our life-span. I have always been interested in science and developments in technology. Self-tracking our health will help us understand how our body works and responds to internal and external factors, which will be different for each of us and will be the key to understanding what triggers inflammation in us.

Transhumanism is already with us whether were ready for it or not or even want it. We are already cyborgs in a way Im certainly smarter just by having my phone next to me.

I think it will offer us some control and autonomy over our own health as well have greater access to information but also through our own experimentation. But just as Im interested in the impact on individuals, Im interested in societal patterns and greater understanding. We are all connected, physically, cognitively, mentally and socially.

Im also fascinated by the developments in [the study of] sleep and the effects it has on our overall health not just for the skin. I have been using my Oura ring for about two years to track my sleep. Its essential for mental and physical health to have proper, restful sleep. The developments in grounding mats are helping us reduce inflammation and promoting a good nights sleep.

Socio-economics will play a big part. We understand so much more about ageing because of the research invested into science and biotech. Its going to be about tracking your health. Skincare brands that manage to customise and tailor-make products for the individual with bio-tech will do well. But only if they are transparent and dont make misleading claims.

We will also be looking more into the pillars of health, which has been my approach for many years, to ensure they are working in synergy and functioning at their optimum. Self-discipline will play a big part in this.

Id like to think it is about being unique, and happy in your own skin. When Im with my clients, I want to release their essence, their innocence which is associated with youthfulness and happiness.

Having things wed like to improve on is one thing but acceptance is also important: bottled youth doesnt exist Yet. But who knows in the future with bioprinting, 3D matrix skin, AI, etc.

I am fortunate enough that I have a twin I can compare myself to. In the future we will all have a digital twin that we look at each day in the mirror, on our phone, or as a hologram. The twin will be your double and will help you track your health. For example, it will allow you to see your UVC [ultraviolet] face, your gut face, your hangover face. It will also allow you to see your biological age and therefore help you to experiment and find preventative solutions.

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UTC Professor Blends Together Philosophical Concepts And Filmmaking – The Chattanoogan

Posted: November 17, 2020 at 7:57 pm

When Zuriel Hampton-Coffin learned he would have to make a horror film for his Popular Culture and Religion and Philosophy course, he wasnt horrified.

I was very excited and became more interested in the class, said the freshman in entrepreneurship. Knowing that it was a horror film didnt really make a difference, I was just excited to make a movie.

I really enjoyed the filmmaking process. It was much harder than I thought it would be, but it was very enjoyable.

Getting students to think outside the boxor in this case, inside the movie theateris one reason Ethan Mills, associate professor of philosophy and religion, assigns a three- to five-minute horror film as one of the assignments each semester in the course. Students reactions vary.

Usually, they are a little surprised, and theres a whole history of that because the name of the classes are pretty generic title: Popular Culture and Religion and Philosophy, he said. Some people go, Cool. Im really excited. This is going to be awesome. And sometimes I get the reaction, Well, Im not really a horror fan. I dont really want to make movies, but, you know, maybe itll be interesting.

What I hope they get out of it is theyll be able to appreciate popular culture at a deeper level, more thoughtfully, he said. You can think philosophically about anything.

Dr. Mills has used filmmaking technique in the class three times, including this semester. The latest batch will debut on Nov. 18. One will be selected as the best and win prizes.

The films must illustrate one of the philosophical tenets that have been discussed in class, including existentialism, denial of death, authenticity, absurdity, transhumanism and others. Students must explain, in writing, the concept they are highlighting in their script.

When youre making a film, you cant just say, So-and-so is feeling sad. You have to think about: How do you show that that character is sad? How do you show some of these abstract philosophical ideas? How would you take these ideas and put them in a visual medium?

Mr. Hoffman-Coffin said representing the philosophical concepts was easier than he thought.

You would think that writing scripts addressing philosophical concepts would be hard, but it really wasnt. Professor Mills provided us with many different concepts, which made it extremely easy to create a film addressing those, he said.

Breaking off into groups, students write the screenplay and design the filmmaking process from figuring out the camera shots, the lighting, the pacing and choosing the actors. Working with Wes Smith, who is in charge of the recording and filmmaking studio in the UTC Library, they use professional-grade cameras for filming and computer software and equipment to edit, create the music and add special effects their films. Some students use their smartphones to film.

Actually, especially some of the newer phones, have pretty decent video capabilities, so theyre actually not bad, Dr. Mills said.

Along with discussing the philosophical writings of Jennifer McMahon, Albert Camus, and W.E.B. DuBois, his students have read books and short stories and watched films of horror, then connected the two. Theyve discussed books such as the original Frankenstein, in which the monster is very intelligent but reviled. In doing so, the novel examines xenophobia and the nature of what it means to be human.

Theyve watched Get Out!, the 2017 horror film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar which tackles racism and transhumanism, the idea of using science to improve humans. Theyve read novels by Stephen King and the short stories of H.P. Lovecraft, whose writings conclude that the universe doesnt make any sense and we are simply specks on an infinite canvas.

Thinking about something like Frankenstein, which is still part of the popular culture 200 years after the novel was published, I find it kind of interesting to go back to the original source and see where it all came from, Dr. Mills said.

With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, though, certain changes had to be made

I have to remind them that when theyre filming to be careful interacting with other people. So Ive really been stressing the safety, especially on the filming aspect, Dr. Mills said.

Group discussions can be done over Zoom, he noted, and social distancing and masks are used by students when actual filming takes place, except for the actors who have to speak the lines, of course.

One of his suggestions for safety-first is to create a found-footage filmthink The Blair Witch Project or the Paranormal Activity movies. Those can be made using Zoom, reducing the amount of time students spend in face-to-face groups.

Whatever the style, students hopefully will discover new ways to enjoy what they read and see, Dr. Mills said.

When were watching films or reading the short stories and novels that we cover, what Im trying to train them to do is to find the philosophical content, getting those works. But when theyre making the films, its kind of from the other side. Theyre putting that content into their own work, so they see it from both sides. I think thats a really unique learning experience.

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To be a Machine review: Experimental format well-suited to plays core theme – The Irish Times

Posted: October 9, 2020 at 1:55 am

We can hardly blame the creators of this busy one-man show for endlessly worrying about whether the finished work counts as theatre. Much effort is made to satisfy stretched definitions of the form. The audience members are asked to upload video of themselves - staring, laughing, sleeping - and the rendered images, each transferred to tablet, are scattered about the auditorium in Project Arts Centre. Sitting at home before a streaming computer, you cannot control your avatar, but, as a few reverse shots clarify (apologies for cinematic rather than theatrical jargon), you are there in some cybernetic sense.

Jack Gleeson, best known as the horrid Joffrey in Game of Thrones, spends much of the brief running time pondering the ups and downs of this hybrid form. You can go to the lavatory with less inconvenience. Maybe you are on the lavatory right now. Try to forget the screen, he says before - in my case, anyway - a brief buffering issue (was that deliberate?) made that task impossible.

All this might have proved exhausting if the self-conscious experiments did not complement the plays core theme. Happily, the experimental format is well-suited to an exploration of transhumanism. Adapted from Mark OConnells acclaimed non-fiction book, To be a Machine, a Dead Centre production, goes among those scientists, entrepreneurs and philosophers who believe technology will allow consciousness to survive the bodys passing. Somewhere in Arizona, a company called Alcor keeps an array of upended heads in Perspex containers. The comparison with the two-dimensional heads scattered about the Projects auditorium is unavoidable. The digitally assisted survival of this theatre piece in the time of Covid acts as a neat metaphor for the process by which computers may allow our thought streams to outlast physical annihilation.

Playing a tweaked version of OConnell, Gleeson sometimes struggles to energise a monologue that carries a few stubborn reminders of its origins in long-form prose. But the technological flourishes keep the show engaging throughout.

Questions remain about its status as theatre. At one point, Gleeson, employing the famous Turing test, seeks to discover if the audience is really out there? We could ask him the same question. We know the show is live because we have been told as much, but, for those of us not having our comments in the chat-box read out, little on screen distinguishes it from a one-take movie. The pieces creators almost certainly savour that ambiguity.

Online until Sat, Oct 10th. For booking see

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Pandemics and transhumanism – The Times of India Blog

Posted: September 20, 2020 at 4:57 pm

The pandemic has forced authorities around the world to scramble for solutions within the realm of possibility. One of the more futuristic, radical solutions which is still relegated to the sidelines is transhumanism. It is a branch of philosophy that believes in transcending the limitations of the human population through technological augmentation. From hearing aids, pacemakers, bionic arms, the manifestations of transhumanism are very much present in our lives. However, the radical applications of being able to tweak biology to suit ones interests and needs at a commercial cost is yet to see the light of day. The basic tenet of transhumanism is extension of human life. Yet, eternal life comes across as a utopian thought where inadequate manufacturing of PPE kits for doctors and nurses have us jolted back to the harsh realities of current pandemic dwelling.

Since the globalized nature of modern capitalistic order and the consequent interconnectedness of our lives has made the possibility of frequent pandemics ever so plausible, we find ourselves at the juncture of a major shift towards increasing receptivity to transhumanist solutions. The famous American inventor and futurist Kurzweil wrote in his book The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology about a journey towards a meshing point of humans and machine intelligence The Singularity. He envisioned nanobots which allowed people to eat whatever they want while remaining healthy and fit, provide copious energy, ward off infections or cancer, replace organs and augment their brains. There will come a future where human bodies will carry so much augmentation that they would be able to alter their physical manifestation at will.

Even if the coronavirus fades off without wiping humans off the planet, it has given an eerie trailer of what future outbreaks might hold in store. Hence due security measures have to be pondered upon -whether in the labs, where deadly pathogens are being researched upon or in the malicious possibilities of a biowarfare. Frontline workers can be provided tech enhancements to ensure better armament against infectious, mutating viral diseases. Protective exoskeletons, real-time blood monitors for pathogens, can bid riddance to any temporary means of protection which are vulnerable against quality and efficacy issues.

In 2011, surgeons in Sweden had successfully transplanted a fully synthetic, tissue-engineered trachea into a man with late-stage tracheal cancer. The trachea was created entirely in a lab with tissue grown from the patients own stem cells inside a bioreactor designed to protect the organ and promote cell growth. Under transhumanism, artificial organs would be superior to ordinary donor organs in several ways. They can be made to order more quickly than a donor organ can often be found; would be grown from a patients own cells and hence wont require dangerous immunosuppressant drugs to prevent rejection.

As of 2018, prototypes of artificial lungs are also surfacing at the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch, where the team spent the last 15 years developing the prototype. Upon completion, the bioengineered lungs were transplanted into four pigs. There was no indication of transplant rejection when the animals were examined at regular intervals for months after transplant. The researchers also observed that the bioengineered lungs became vascularized, establishing the necessary blood vessel networks to do its job. For diseases like covid-19, which affect a particular body organ, having an option of a bioengineered organ could very well be a safeguard.

But transhumanists are not just trying to extend human lives, they also want to revive them. They aim to merge bioengineering, AI capabilities, 3-D printing to resurrect the dead victims of any catastrophe much like the pandemic on our hands right now. Ways of dealing with grief at the loss of a loved one can possibly be placated with measures like interactive custom-holograms, social media feed powered by AI that could generate new messages based on the pattern of the old ones.

There are strong ethical considerations that also pop up in the discussion of transhumanism. Stefan Lorenz Sorgner, a German philosopher and bioethicist believes that processes like cryonics will go against most ecological principles given the amount of resources needed to keep a body in suspended animation post-death. Even though, transhumanism does not explicitly encourage breeding for the superiority of one specific group, the methods endorsed by some prominent transhumanists aim for physiological superiority. Considering that for the time being, solutions emanating will be heavy on the monetary end in the healthcare set-up, it could breed inequality in access. A huge gap in resources will be experienced in the society, as the affluent section amasses money and influence to set out an eternal timeline for themselves, coming at a lethal cost for the other half of the society.

Solving problems that will plague us in the future is a rising urge shared by leaders, philanthropists and billionaires around the world. This is why proponents like Zoltan Istvan fear the fact that the exponential rise of transhumanist technologies might leave governments fumbling to discuss and bring about policy directions to regulate and guard changes. Important questions like how far is too far? will need phased guidance as we have learnt from the chaotic response to systemic changes being implemented in the medical field during Covid-19. A conversation on transhumanism should not be put off any further and needs to permeate across different strata of stakeholders.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.

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CD Projekt Red have nabbed Cyberpunk, but here are 5 other punks that deserve games – PC Gamer

Posted: at 4:57 pm

Naming your game after a well-established genre is a gutsy move, but CD Projekt Red's Cyberpunk 2077 is shaping up to be one of the biggest cyberpunk stories in gaming history.

Taking into account everything we know about Cyberpunk 2077, the open-world RPG looks like it's crawling with seedy criminals, shady corporations, cybernetic limbs, and neon streets, as well as tackling all those spectacularly dense themes of transhumanism, AI, and the dismantling of corporate and governmental hierarchiesyou know, the usual.

With CD Projekt Red taking on one of the biggest sci-fi genres, what other 'punk' derivatives are left for the taking? A lot, apparently. Over the past few days, I've fallen down a rabbit hole of cyberpunk derivatives. But before we dive into real-world body hacking, frills from 18th century France, and Buck Rogers, here are some punk genres that games have explored.

Steampunk is one of the big cyberpunk sub-genres and games like BioShock Infinite, Dishonored, and Sunless Sea have taken major inspiration from it's Victorian-era industrial steam-powered world. Wolfenstein and games like Iron Harvest take on the gritty and dirty industrial aesthetics of Dieselpunk. The Fallout series is famous for its retro-futuristic imagining of Atompunk, and then there's 11-bit Studio's own genre, FrostpunkVictorian industrialisation meets frozen ecological crisis.

Whether they are fully-fledged worlds or have more of a focus on aesthetics, here are some more punk genres that deserve a gaming spotlight.

Many derivatives of cyberpunk are retrofuturistic in their worldbuilding, pulling on ideas and aesthetics from the past (looking directly at you, Victorian era). But what makes Solarpunk special is that it is firmly set in the future.

Solarpunk envisions an optimistic future that directly tackles environmental concerns with renewable and sustainable energy sources. Instead of a bleak wasteland, Solarpunk is bright and hopeful. Butjust because climate change and pollution have been solved doesn't mean that everything is a utopia. This is what could make Solarpunk an interesting backdrop for games. Instead of bashing you over the head with how awful everything is, Solarpunk is about worlds that are so close to being perfect but fall just short. I can totally see this making a great backdrop for a sprawling RPG.

For whatever reason, a core feature of many punk genres is what resource is used to power technology, but Clockpunk is less focused on steam, diesel, or electric-run mechanics and more on basic technology. Clockpunk is all about intricate mechanismslike the interlocking gears of a pocket watch, the intricacies of automatons, or the detailed sketches of Da Vinci. There's also just a general focus on beautiful, delicate machinery, and Dimitriy Khristenko's mechanical bugs are an amazing example of something that would fit perfectly into the clockpunk aesthetic.

There's not much in terms of world-building to Clockpunk, but the genre makes a great foundation for worlds that have light fantasy elements, such as magic or alchemy, which can act as the world's main power resources.It's emphasis on visual design also makes it perfect for puzzle games like Magnum Opus.

More of a visual aesthetic than a loosely defined alternate reality, Rococo Punk takes inspiration from the whimsical visual style of the Rococo period. It's used in a similar way to Decopunk (think the glossy interiors of BioShock) in that it's purely just a look rather than a philosophy. Visually, the genre involves theatrical outfits with lots of dramatic frills with building interiors having lots of grand, sweeping curves and gold trimming. There's not a pair of greasy goggles in sight.

It sounds super classy, but I'm not sure what makes it particularly 'punk'. Then again, there were lots of brutal beheadings in 18th century France at the height of Rococo's popularity, and having your head chopped off for wanting to dismantle the French monarchy is pretty punk.

Biopunk is all about the wonderful world of biohacking which involves modifying the human body through biological means. This form of human experimentation involves 'hacking' your own body in hopes of improving your physical or mental state. The genre also includes themes of corporate and governmental control over body modification and genetic engineering.

BioShock totally has the Biopunk corner covered, but then after reading this totally bonkers Vox article about real-world biohackers there's so much more that writers can draw from. There's a wealth of source material for Biopunk in the real world too, like Silicon Valley's $8,000 young blood transfusions where an older person pays for a young person's blood to be pumped into their body as some sort of 'elixir of life' because why not?I don't think I'll ever get over reading that anytime soon.

Taking inspiration from Atompunk, Raypunk is one of the more outlandish punk genres and focuses on far-future science fiction with a distinct retro twist. Its aesthetic is close to mid-20th century pulp science fiction like the original Star Trek series or the Jetsonsanything featuring brightly colored rayguns, flying cars, and clunky talking robots.

It's not all Buck Rogers, though. Raypunk (known also as Raygun Gothic) can be surreal and dark, which sounds far more interesting honestly. Rick Remender's comic book Low is the closest piece of media I know of that captures the genre's "world of tomorrow" aesthetic while still being pretty bleak and serious.

I honestly don't really understand this one, but this Wikipedia page cites The Flintstones as part of the Stonepunk genre so that makes it legit, apparently.

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Former Witcher 3 devs are launching a sci-fi novel-inspired game – PCGamesN

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Some of the developers behind The Witcher 3, Dying Light, Dead Island, and Cyberpunk 2077 have come together to start up a new studio. Called Starward Industries, its first outing is a sci-fi game with atompunk aesthetics that is inspired by the works of Stanisaw Lem, a prominent novelist who worked within the same genre.Its called The Invincible, and its set in a world wheretechnology has advanced to the point of seamless space exploration, but equipment remains analogue as the digital revolution has not taken place, nor has The Cold War ended. The games been in the works since 2018, and the devs hope to have it out next year.

We got the chance to chat to project leader and CD Projekt Red vet Marek Markuszewsk ahead of the upcoming PC games reveal. So, first things first, what is it about Lem that the studio likes, and what is it about his work that Markuszewsk thinks translates to a videogame?

The most fascinating and inspiring thing about Lems writing is the extent of the boldness of the provided visionary, he tells us. His stories are multi-layered as if written with the intent to be adapted as interactive entertainment. Not everything is trivial, though. We have specifically chosen a novel with quite a deft theme, indeed a straightforward story related to space exploration, yet reaching to the phase which at present is still not easy to be fully pictured.

While Lem was particularly active between 19462005, Markuszewsk reckons the words he wrote still have plenty of meaning and relevance today. Lem has developed several visions of how humanity and societies may be evolving far into the future when space travel and meeting other species will be the norm, he says. Whilst were just beginning space exploration, many prophecies regarding tech innovations indeed came to life, such as the internet, ebook readers, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, micro-robotics et cetera.

Maybe not always named or working exactly as Lem imagined, but serving precisely the described purposes, rooted in science and psychology. Theres a strong feeling that with the recent trend which includes implants, chips and mental interfaces, were stepping into transhumanism the theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical constraints. Lems works are great to reflect on what challenges such developments may bring.

The themes of the game certainly seem bold and interesting, then, but what will The Invincible feel like from moment-to-moment when youre playing it? Markuszewsk says that the atmosphere draws comparisons to Alien: Isolation, whereas communicating through radio comms will put you in mind of Firewatch.

The gameplay is quite diverse, including exploration, navigation, face to face discussions with NPCs, operating various equipment which is all analogue, solving clues, interacting with robots, piloting drones, crunching data, even driving vehicles, Markuszewsk explains to us. A large part of interaction will include radio comms, sometimes dense, even tense at times, often intimate, closely related to the unfolding events in that way The Invincible can remind of Firewatch.

On the other hand, in terms of gameplay and atmosphere, the closest game I can think of is Alien: Isolation. Among tens of games which weve researched while working on The Invincibles concept, these two titles combined perhaps represent the best of what our game is going to offer.

More? Here are the best space games on PC

Markuszewsk hopes to release The Invincible in the second half of 2021, but thats conditional on several factors. Due to the current state of the world with COVID-19 and beyond, its hard to offer a more narrow timeframe. You can wishlist it on Steam if this one sounds like your kind of thing.

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