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Category : Transhumanism

Pandemics and transhumanism – The Times of India Blog

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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Pandemics and transhumanism - The Times of India Blog

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

CS Lewis and Critical Reactions to Transhumanism – Discovery Institute

Image: Screen shot from That Hideous Strength: C.S. Lewis's Prophetic Warning against the Abuse of Science.

Editors note: Published on August 16, 1945,C. S. LewissThat Hideous Strengthis a dystopian novel that eerily reflects the realities of 2020, putting into a memorable fictional form ideas expressed in Lewiss non-fiction work, The Abolition of Man. To mark the former books three-quarter century anniversary,Evolution Newspresents a series of essays, reflections, and videos about its themes and legacy.

James A. Herrick is the Guy Vander Jagt Professor of Communication at Hope College in Holland, MI. His books include The Making of the New Spirituality: The Eclipse of the Western Religious Tradition.

This post is adapted from Chapter 10 ofThe Magicians Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, edited by John G. West. See also,

Not surprisingly, contemporary Transhumanism has attracted a number of informed critics. I will briefly review two prominent voices in the opposition camp who reflect concerns at the heart of C. S. Lewiss own case. Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, a skeptic as regards the Transhumanist vision, echoes one of the central arguments of The Abolition of Man biotechnology now threatens to exercise control of nature itself:

Due to genetic engineering, humans are now able not only to redesign themselves but also to redesign future generations, thereby affecting the evolutionary process itself. As a result, a new posthuman phase in the evolution of the human species will emerge, in which humans will live longer, will possess new physical and cognitive abilities, and will be liberated from suffering and pain due to aging and diseases. In the posthuman age, humans will no longer be controlled by nature; instead, they will be the controllers of nature.1

The question of altering human nature also remains at the center of the developing case against Transhumanism and related proposals. Famed historian Francis Fukuyama, for example, has argued that contemporary biotechnology raises the possibility that it will alter human nature and thereby move us into a posthuman stage of history. This possibility poses a real danger to individual rights and threatens the foundation of democratic institutions:

This is important because human nature exists, is a meaningful concept, and has provided a stable continuity to our experience as a species. It is, conjointly with religion, what defines our most basic values. Human nature shapes and constrains the possible kinds of political regimes, so a technology powerful enough to reshape what we are will have possibly malign consequences for liberal democracy and the nature of politics itself.2

Though the deeper dangers of biotechnological alterations of humans have not yet manifested themselves, Fukuyama adds, one of the reasons I am not quite so sanguine is that biotechnology, in contrast to many other scientific advances, mixes obvious benefits with subtle harms in one seamless package.3 The essential correctness of Lewiss case is evident in the duration of major components in his rebuttal to Bernal, Stapledon, Haldane, Shaw and other enhancement proponents of his own day.

C. S. Lewis exhibited remarkable prescience in The Abolition of Man. Was there anything that he failed to see? Writing in the war years of the early 1940s, Lewiss perspective was understandably shaped by present circumstance and personal experience. As a result, he did not anticipate certain cultural and historical developments that have become critical to the rise of posthumanity thinking.

As noted, Lewis harbored a deep antipathy for faceless state institutions where atrocities are plotted out according to cost-benefit pragmatism and inhuman schemes are hatched in dingy meeting rooms. In such settings was the banality of evil expressed in war-torn Europe. Lewis does not appear to have anticipated the postwar power of the large corporation, the modern research university, and sophisticated mass media. Such shapers of 21st-century American culture, not the cumbersome state agencies of mid-century Europe, have taken the lead in developing the biotechnologies, educational techniques and persuasive prowess Lewis cautioned against. The user-friendly smile of the high-tech firm, not the icy stare of a government department, is the face of the new humanity. Moreover, justifications for enhancement research are not hammered out in centralized planning meetings, but tested on focus groups and winsomely presented in entertaining public lectures. Financial support for posthumanity comes not come from Big Brother bureaucracies but from Silicon Valley boardrooms.

The scope of research related to human enhancement is incomprehensibly vast and accelerating at an incalculable rate. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of university and corporate research facilities around the world are involved in developing artificial intelligence, regenerative medicine, life-extension strategies, and pharmaceutical enhancements of cognitive performance. An ever-increasing number of media products including movies, video games and novels promote Transhumanist and evolutionist themes. Each technological breakthrough is promoted as a matter of consumerist necessity despite the fact that personal electronic devices and the companies marketing them are increasingly intrusive and corrosive of personal freedoms. Innovative educational organizations such as Singularity University are forming around the Transhumanist ideal. Indeed, so immense, diverse and well-funded is the research network developing enhancement technologies that the collective financial and intellectual clout of all related projects is beyond calculating. Suffice it to say that the enhancement juggernaut is astonishingly large and powerful.

Tomorrow, Science and Scientism: The Prophetic Vision of C. S. Lewis.

Original post:
CS Lewis and Critical Reactions to Transhumanism - Discovery Institute

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

CS Lewis and Contemporary Transhumanism – Discovery Institute

Editors note: Published on August 16, 1945,C. S. LewissThat Hideous Strengthis a dystopian novel that eerily reflects the realities of 2020, putting into a memorable fictional form ideas expressed in Lewiss non-fiction work, The Abolition of Man. To mark the former books three-quarter century anniversary,Evolution Newspresents a series of essays, reflections, and videos about its themes and legacy.

James A. Herrick is the Guy Vander Jagt Professor of Communication at Hope College in Holland, MI. His books include The Making of the New Spirituality: The Eclipse of the Western Religious Tradition.

This post is adapted from Chapter 10 ofThe Magicians Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, edited by John G. West. See also,

C. S. Lewiss prophetic appraisal of certain scientific trends in The Abolition of Man finds confirmation in todays discourse of our biotechnological future. The vision of technologically enhanced posthumanity arises out of a synthesis of scientific cultures most robust mythologies progress, evolution, the superman, and the power of collective intellect. Technology will conquer death, space, and human nature, and deliver us into the future as highly evolved demigods. The Internet is humanitys first major step toward a unified web of consciousness Teilhard de Chardins noosphere that will first blanket the earth and then pervade the universe.1 The objections of bio-conservatives will be silenced through popular argument and public art, and the way opened to unlimited progress, miraculous technologies and visionary ethics. Then comes posthumanity and Bertrand Russells world of shining beauty and transcendent glory.2 Transhumanism affirms that the time has arrived to make good on such prophecies by crafting a technologically enhanced, globally connected and immortal race Stapledons splendid race.

Contemporary Transhumanism draws inspiration from Utopianism, Renaissance Humanism, Enlightenment Rationalism, nineteenth-century Russian Cosmism, New Age Gnosticism, science fiction, speculative techno-futurism, and apocalyptic themes in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Nick Bostrom, Oxford University philosopher and one of the founders of contemporary Transhumanism, captures the movements fundamental orientation:

Transhumanists view human nature as a work-in-progress, a half-baked beginning that we can learn to remold in desirable ways. Current humanity need not be the endpoint of evolution. Transhumanists hope that by responsible use of science, technology, and other rational means, we shall eventually manage to become posthuman, beings with vastly greater capacities than present human beings have.3

Evolving humanity, long a theme in popular scientific writing and science fiction, has now emerged as a major topic in bioethics, philosophy and religion.4 Ongoing evolution will eventually produce a unified cooperative organization of living processes that spans and manages the universe as a whole.5 Evolution is now a process in which human beings may actively participate by technological means. The present human being is not the crown of evolutions creative work as a step toward something grander the posthuman. But, even posthumanity is not the ultimate goal. Inexorable evolution is producing, by means of its human and posthuman surrogates, ever more advanced technologies as part of its plan to achieve omniscience and omnipotence. Ambitious evolution is merely using us and our descendents as its cats paw to snatch technological divinity from the cosmoss chaotic flames.

The specific characteristics of posthumanity are debated; what is crucial is the conviction that the posthumans are near, that they will represent a profound improvement over our present condition, and that we ought to work diligently for their arrival. One Transhumanist advocate affirms:

Trust in our posthuman potential is the essence of Transhumanism. We trust that we can become posthumans, extrapolating technological trends into futures consistent with contemporary science, and acting pragmatically to hasten opportunities and mitigate risks. We trust that we should become posthumans, embracing a radical humanism that dignifies the ancient and enduring work to overcome and extend our humanity.6

The posthuman future is not limited by biology but will involve human beings merging with machines, at first by simply mechanically augmenting the body but eventually by depositing human consciousness in mechanical devices. Thus will we achieve immortality, universal knowledge, and unified global consciousness.

The process of creating posthumanity is fundamentally evolutionary, but with an important difference when contrasted to the old Darwinian model. As Lewis speculated in The Abolition of Man, biotechnologies will permit us to be active participants in our own evolution.7 Transhumanist leader James Hughes writes that we must accommodate the posthumans that will be created by genetic and cybernetic technologies.8 This vision, in broad strokes, affirms Oxfords Bostrom, is to create the opportunity to live much longer and healthier lives, to enhance our memory and other intellectual faculties, to refine our emotional experiences and increase our subjective sense of well-being, and generally to achieve a greater degree of control over our own lives. According to Bostrom, the aggressive pursuit of biotechnology is a radical reaction against current convention, an alternative to customary injunctions against playing God, messing with nature, tampering with our human essence, or displaying punishable hubris.9 Efforts to coax the public to embrace the ideology of posthumanity, however, will surely provoke a contest. Thus, Hughes predicts that the human races use of genetic engineering to evolve beyond our current limitations would be a central political issue of the next century.10

More may be ahead than domestic political debate, however. According to some experts, the near future will usher in a global culture enabled by a massively more powerful Internet. Computer engineer Hugo de Garis takes as simple matters of fact that the exponential rate of technical progress will create within 40 years an Internet that is a trillion times faster than todays, a global media, a global education system, a global language, and a globally homogenized culture which will constitute the basis of a global democratic state. This new order of things, which de Garis calls Globa, will rid the world of war, the arms trade, ignorance, and poverty.11 The coming transformation of the human race and the world it inhabits is nothing short of an apocalypse the Kingdom arrives via the Internet.

What was previously sought through magic and mysticism, writes Hughes, will now be pursued technologically.12 Bostrom imagines a utopia in which posthumans enjoy aesthetic and contemplative pleasures whose blissfulness vastly exceeds what any human being has yet experienced. The new people will experience a much greater level of personal development and maturity than current human beings do, because they have the opportunity to live for hundreds or thousands of years with full bodily and psychic vigor. He continues:

We can conceive of beings that are much smarter than us, that can read books in seconds, that are much more brilliant philosophers than we are, that can create artworks, which, even if we could understand them only on the most superficial level, would strike us as wonderful masterpieces. We can imagine love that is stronger, purer, and more secure than any human being has yet harbored.13

Bostrom and Hughes strike a winsome note in their predictions of the posthuman future. However, at what cost does the New Era arrive? Will we forego individual rights, as Lewis feared, in the pursuit of a greater collective good? Science writer Ronald Bailey contends that democratic majorities often oppose avant-gardes minorities. If the transhuman future we are all hoping for is to be achieved, it may require efforts more aggressive than those suggested by Bostroms irenic reverie. Regrettably, democracy often has placed limits on cutting-edge scientific research. Bailey argues that in some benighted jurisdictions promising research agendas can be stopped in their tracks by majoritarian tyranny. Despite the apparent lessons of history regarding programs for improving humanity, Bailey looks hopefully toward the day when an emerging posthuman race will transform the world that is, if democracy doesnt get in the way.14 Perhaps Lewiss fears about religious devotion to inevitable processes were well founded.

Considerably more reassuring to wary audiences is the central figure in the contemporary human enhancement movement, inventor Ray Kurzweil, best known for his theory of exponential technological progress culminating in the Singularity. At a moment in time not more than a few decades away, a technological explosion will change everything permanently. Kurzweils vision of a transformative human future has recently captured public attention in books such as The Singularity Is Near and movies such as Transcendent Man.15 He confidently affirms that exponential progress in the biological sciences will soon allow us to reprogram the information processes underlying biology.16 While the idea here is vague and expressed for a lay audience, the planned reprogramming of foundational human biology is the specific goal of Lewiss Conditioners. For Kurzweil and other techno-futurists, the future will reveal unimaginable improvements to the human condition. Nature will yield to technology; the battle will have been won.

Kurzweil has become the public face of human enhancement, an affable front man with an accountants demeanor. The heavy theoretical lifting, however, is done by others. Philosopher John Harris, among the four or five leading apologists for human enhancement, argues that assisting evolution is a moral obligation. He writes, The progress of evolution is unlikely to be achieved accidentally or by letting nature take its course. Joining Savulescu in urging the necessity of enhanced evolution, Harris argues that if illness and poverty are indeed to become rare misfortunes, this is unlikely to occur by chance It may be that a nudge or two is needed: nudges that will start the process of replacing natural selection with deliberate selection, Darwinian evolution with enhancement evolution.17 While Harriss metaphor suggests a gentle technological push along coordinates of improvement already plotted out by nature, it would be wide of the mark to imagine that science has identified such an evolutionary trajectory for future humanity. It is more likely that educated guesses grounded in hopeful narratives about progress substitute for actual knowledge in this and similar scenarios.

An inevitable force with motives of its own, evolution is central to the techno-futurists vision of the posthuman future. Evolution produced us and through us, technology. It, not God and not the Tao, is also the source of the moral principles that have brought us to the point of transformation as a species, and that will ensure our continued evolution. Computer scientist Hugo de Garis affirms that because of our intelligence thats evolved over billions of years, we are now on the point of making a major transition away from biology to a new step. You could argue that maybe humanity, is just a stepping stone.18 Physicist Freeman Dyson agrees we will be transformed as many opportunities for experiments in the radical reconstruction of human beings present themselves.19 But there is more to our posthuman future than simply improving our lot here on earth: The new humanity, toward which the present human race represents a mere step along the way, will propagate itself throughout the cosmos. This was the cosmic vision of scientific planners and science fiction authors that prompted Lewiss skepticism about space exploration. Sounding a theme reminiscent of Wells, Dyson writes that when life and industrial activities are spread out over the solar system, there is no compelling reason for growth to stop.20 Technologically assisted evolutionism is becoming, as Lewis warned, a comprehensive narrative of an inevitable forces ultimate universal triumph.

Human enhancement advocates focus attention on four technologies nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science, or NBIC. But technology is not the whole story of the turn toward Transhumanism. The NBIC technologies, writes Hughes, will change how we work, how we travel, how we communicate, how we worship and how we cook.21 Whereas work, travel, and communication are perhaps expected in this list, and cooking seems trivial by comparison, how we worship is arresting. Traditional religion has been the bte noir of enhancement advocates, an anti-technological and anti-futurist force to be actively opposed. Hughess comment, however, hints at a new approach the re-imagining of religion along Transhumanist lines. For some in the movement posthumanity and advanced technologies are objects of worship, hope in the Singularity a religious faith. The new wine of Singularity religion will require the new wine skins of innovative religious expression; techno-futurism will discover transcendence in techno-religion.

Tomorrow, C.S. Lewis and Critical Reactions to Transhumanism.

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CS Lewis and Contemporary Transhumanism - Discovery Institute

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Privacy and Alt-Right Transhumanism in Hari Kunzru’s ‘Red Pill’ – PopMatters

Red Pill Hari Kunzru

Knopf

September 2020

"You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe," Morpheus tells Neo in the Wachowski Bros.' 1999 film, The Matrix. "You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes."

It is with The Matrix that the term "red pill" entered our vocabulary and later memedom as we grew into our collective, online consciousness, but the dilemma between living in blissful ignorance and confronting the truth about reality is nothing new. Neither is the idea that our reality might be simulated, or at least manipulated. From Ren Descartes' Evil Demon to Gilbert Harman's Brain in a Vat, thought experiments have often sought to tease out whether it is possible to trust our perception of reality, to determine whether we can know with certainty that what we seem to experience with our senses is an accurate assessment of some larger truth.

It is this larger truth that the far-right, emboldened by the emergence of a reactionary political class all too willing to stoke the flames of panic and prejudice, have laid claim to in recent years, claiming also, in the process, the term "red pill" to describe their process of awakening to uncomfortable realities they accuse the left-leaning of not wanting to come face to face with. British-Indian novelist Hari Kunzru, author of five previous novels and PEN/Jean Stein Book Award finalist, addresses the intersection of such existential quandaries in his latest novel, aptly titled Red Pill.

The premise of Red Pill is simple enough; clichd, almost. The unnamed narrator, a struggling writer suffering a dry spell, embarks on a retreat to clear his mind and restore his creative faculties. Any overused tropes end here, though, as Kunzru weaves an intricate fabric from a multitude of seemingly disparate elements German romanticism, the legacy of the Third Reich, the Stasi, the European migrant crisis, the 2016 US presidential election all of which come together to create this haunted tale that merges questions of privacy, transhumanism, the political ascendency of the Right in Europe and the US, and moral responsibility, among others.

Water drop by qimono (Pixabay License / Pixabay)

Kunzru's protagonist a man of Indian heritage, married and father to a young daughter is awarded a fellowship at the Deuter Center in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee. If that latter name sounds familiar, it is because it served as the location of the eponymous 1942 Wannsee Conference, in which the implementation of the Final Solution to the Jewish Question was discussed a tragic and macabre past that weighs on the setting in much the same way the cold, stark, unforgiving weather does. Rather than use his fellowship to any industrious effect and develop his work on the concept of the self in lyric poetry, however, the narrator finds he is unable to fall in step with the center's rather aggressive communal work policy, which dictates that he must research and write in the presence of others.

In between calls with his wife back in Brooklyn and visits to the grave of Romantic poet Heinrich von Kleist, he binge-watches Blue Lives, a disturbingly violent police show that peppers its scenes of torture with obscure quotes, which the narrator believes might be intended as subtext.

Interestingly, the fictional Blue Lives airs at a time in which another nihilistic group fixated with the brutalization of the body is filming its own horrors for the world to see. Although ISIS is not explicitly mentioned by name, the footage from "jihadi propaganda" videos is referenced in one of several instances in which the narrator juxtaposes death with spectacle, the dignity (and what he assumes to be the inherent human right) of privacy with violent and humiliating invasiveness. Meanwhile, his initial topic of investigation the lyric "I" suffers from his frustrated attempts to secure for himself isolation and, if he is being honest with himself, plain old disinterest.

"Deep down I had no real desire to understand how lyric poets had historically experienced their subjectivity. I wasn't that interested," he admits. "It was a piece of wishfulness, an expression of my own desire to be raised above the pleasures and pains of my life, to be free from the reigning coercions of a toddler, the relentless financial pressure of living in New York. I wanted to remain alone with myself as inwardness. I wanted, in short, to take a break."

Photo by Advait Jayant on Unsplash

His desire for solitude and clarity is inexorably thwarted, and he happens upon surveillance footage that leads him to believe that residents at the center are being watched, even in (what ought to be) the privacy of their own rooms. It is thus that his paranoia at being spied upon and his preoccupation with the creator of Blue Lives, Anton, and the show's underlying meaning converge to form the catalyst for his own descent into madness, mirrored, no less, by the poet Kleist, who also "had a crisis, brought about by reading Kant, who taught that the human senses are unreliable, and so we are unable to apprehend the truth that lies beneath the surface of things."

He begs his cleaning lady, Monika, to tell him the truth about whether the center is spying on its residents, which leads to a rather long aside in the novel in which she recounts her terrible experiences at the hands of the Stasi, little assuaging his general sense of malaise and imminent doom.

The world events that unfold around the narrator are no more helpful at staying this spiral into psychosis. At the very outset of the novel, he acknowledges the role of chance in determining whether one is born into wealth or war, comfort or mortal struggle, also acknowledging the fragility of one's current circumstances, tenuous and unpredictable. "Our very happiness made me uneasy," he confesses. "It was a time when the media was full of images of children hurt and displaced by war. I frequently found myself hunched over my laptop, my eyes welling with tears. I was distressed by what I saw, but also haunted by a more selfish question: if the world changed, would I be able to protect my family? Could I scale the fence with my little girl on my shoulders? Would I be able to keep hold of my wife's hand as the rubber boat overturned? Our life together was fragile. One day something would break."

His position as a member of an ethnic minority in a white man's world compounds this anxiety, which he sees reflected in a refugee father and daughter duo he meets at different intervals in the novel and desperately longs to help in some way. "It's always people like us who go first," he tells his wife.

When the narrator at last meets Anton, he is finally afforded the opportunity to ask the burning questions that have been consuming his thoughts only the answers he receives are far from placating. His obsession becomes manic, and he follows the mind behind the show across countries, refusing to accept the man's destructive vision of a future in which humankind is divided into two groups: one that fuses with technology to transcend animal limitations an updated version of the Nazi take on Nietzsche's bermensch and the other that is destined to slavery in service of the first.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Kunzru accomplishes several noteworthy things with Red Pill, not the least of which is following nihilistic philosophies (even those that do not designate themselves as such but instead, claim to hold a utopian vision for the future that involves culling 'undesirable' elements) to their logical endpoint. In striving to fabricate an artificial, 'perfectionist' version of ourselves, we ironically (or predictably, for anyone who is familiar with history) expose the very worst in our nature.

Kunzru also addresses the bedrock humanity hits in stretching philosophy that questions reality to the extent it renders any cooperation based on that reality impossible to its snapping point. If we cannot agree on basic premises and inalienable rights, what then?

The mental crisis that ensues from having the foundations of one's belief system shattered is likewise accurately depicted: the world becomes unrecognizable, a simulation as it were. "The streetscape wasn't real. The sidewalk, the passers-by, the cars, the clouds in the sky, all were elements in a giant simulation. The sunlight was not sunlight but code."

The author excels in capturing the geist in alt-right circles, down to the language used. "Cultural Marxism has filled your brain with worms," Anton tells the narrator, after the latter confronts the Blue Lives creator and accuses him of being on the wrong side of history with his morbid masterplan for the future. Using a term favored by conspiracy theorists who allege that progressives are using psychological manipulation to topple the natural order of the world, Anton essentially equates the narrator's opposition to the erosion of basic human values with erosion of the values he personally believes to be enlightened. For that is what cultural Marxists do, according to the alt-right: They promote atheism, gay rights, feminism, all through the humanities faculties in universities and the media and all at the expense of the status quo.

Noteworthy is the Nazi preoccupation with the thinkers of the Frankfurt School, most of whom were Jewish. Another gem of an exchange between narrator and Anton: "Why are you promoting a future in which some people are treated like raw material? That's a disgusting vision," the narrator says, to which Anton responds, laughing: "I'm sorry it gives you sad feels."

Perhaps the most remarkable features of this novel are its relevance to current events and the questions it raises with regard to the ethical frameworks we take for granted and within which we operate. If "privacy is the exclusive property of the gods," as the narrator posits, is the impending class struggle between spies and those who are spied upon? Where will our steady handover of privacy in exchange for security lead to down the road?

If, again, privacy is the demarcating factor between the ruling and subordinate classes, what does it say about refugees on dinghies in the Mediterranean, whose lives and bodies are battlegrounds for political figures to build their platforms on? Is little Alan Kurdi, lying face down on a beach in Turkey, the ultimate spectacle, the ultimate "mockery of human dignity" that is simultaneously relished as a symbol, as the sacrificial animal on which humanity's sins may be pinned, and disdained for its inconvenience?

In the novel, as in reality, the very real flesh-and-blood human lives of refugee father and daughter occupy a space in the background as the theoretical tug of war between Anton and the narrator occupies the foreground, and the parallels between a past that is never too far behind and a present that threatens to rouse those ugly ghosts are all too evident.

Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog [By Caspar David Friedrich - The photographic reproduction was done by Cybershot800i. (Diff). Public Domain / Wikipedia]

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Privacy and Alt-Right Transhumanism in Hari Kunzru's 'Red Pill' - PopMatters

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Elon Musk may announce human trials at the Neuralink demo. Heres why thats awesome – The Next Web

Im reticent to use the phrase iPhone moment for brain surgery in the first sentence here, but Elon Musk and the team at Neuralink are set to demonstrate the progress made by the company over the past year this Friday and Im excited.

First, its been rumored the company will announce human trials are set to begin this year at the event and thats a pretty big deal. Ill get to why in a moment.

And second: Musks confirmed the event will feature a live demonstration of neurons firing. This is what Im referring to when I talk about an iPhone moment for brain surgery.

Neuralink was founded with a single purpose, one Musk recently reiterated in an interview with Axios: The long term aspiration for Neuralink would be to achieve symbiosis with artificial intelligence.

The big idea here is that Neuralink is building a brain computer interface (BCI), a robot to surgically install it, and all the necessary components to facilitate direct communication between computers and our brains.

Neuralinks BCI is invasive, it has to be implanted in the skull so that tiny wires can be directly inserted into the brain. Per a research paper published by the company last year:

We have built arrays of small and flexible electrode threads, with as many as 3,072 electrodes per array distributed across 96 threads. We have also built a neurosurgical robot capable of inserting six threads (192 electrodes) per minute.

Each thread can be individually inserted into the brain with micron precision for avoidance of surface vasculature and targeting specific brain regions. The electrode array is packaged into a small implantable device that contains custom chips for low-power on-board amplification and digitization: the package for 3,072 channels occupies less than (23 18.5 2) mm3.

A single USB-C cable provides full-bandwidth data streaming from the device, recording from all channels simultaneously.

You read that right: Neuralink is literally going to put a USB-C cord in or on your head. Dont get too excited at the prospect of using a fast charger to get a full nights sleep in just 30 minutes though, because thats not the kind of connectivity were looking at. While details arent clear yet, its assumed the USB-C cable connects the internal device to an external wearable that sends and receives outside signals. However, when it comes to a Musk-inspired gadget. who knows? His cars have external speakers that play fart sounds and snake jazz.

What we do know is that Musks pushing the device through regulatory bodies as a medical device patterned after other similar BCIs. These are typically used to deliver intracranial stimulation or other brain-modulating medical treatments.

Neuralinks plans involve similar capabilities. Musks stated that the device will be able to solve many brain, nervous system, and mental conditions. Hes claimed itll successfully treat everything from strokes to Alztheimers and even made dubious claims that it could eliminate autistic spectrum disorder.

[Read:Elon Musk says Neuralink can solve autism with a brain chip. We call BS]

Musks known for making grandiose claims and then failing to deliver (remember when he invented the tunnel and called it the future of transportation? Or when he said thered be a million self-driving taxis on the road by the end of 2020?). But this is different. At least I hope it is, because Neuralink could be a big damn deal for humanity if hes been playing straight with us.

Neuralink represents the first bold steps towards transhumanism for our species. If you want to really dumb it down, think about BCIs like the computers manufacturers started installing in cars in the 1990s. There was a time, long ago, when youd take your car to a mechanic and theyd diagnose itlike a human doctor making a house call. They listen to it, maybe drive it around the block, and eventually start taking things apart to see if they could confirm their suspected diagnosis.

With computers, myriad mechanical and electrical automobile problems can be diagnosed by simply connecting the car to a workstation. A BCI could offer humans similar sensing capabilities. Imagine if you could diagnose health conditions that require anecdotal evidence such as headaches and other neurologically-induced pain through direct, real-time analsysis of brain activity. Thatd be a game-changer for anyone whos ever had a migraine.

All thats interesting, but none of it is new. Scientists have toiled to create a suitable BCI for medical purposes for decades. The reason Neuralinks event is, potentially, so exciting is that it represents the first time a serious organization has attempted to bring an invasive BCI out of the realm of medicine and into the general consumer sector.

Make no mistake, Musks vision for Neuralink clearly states this device is aimed at everyone. The obvious non-medical benefits would include things like unlocking and opening doors with your mind or sending and receiving text messages as thoughts. These might seem like far-future tech, but the truth is that the ability to do these things has been around awhile. Neuralinks working on the hard parts: designing scalable software andhardware and making the surgery to implant it as much like a clockwork outpatient procedure as possible.

The real benefits, the exciting stuff, has more to do with data gathering than telepathy. A BCI capable of translating brain activity in real-time with enough bandwidth to constantly stream could theoretically make mental health conditions as easily-diagnosed and treatable as physical injuries. Imagine if the mental health equivalent of a sprained wrist say, a mildly traumatic experience could be diagnosed with precision and treated in such a way that progress and improvement could be codified and monitored.

At any rate, the skys the limit. A functioning BCI may or may not bridge the gap between us and whatever fictional supercomputers Musk and the other harbingers of AI-doom think are going to makehumans their pets. But it sure would be nice to have as clear an image of our own brains as we do a 2002 Ford Taurus. If anyone can convince the powers that be, and the general population, that a BCI is a good idea its Elon Musk.

The idea of true human-AI symbiosis seems spooky but heres the tech take: Youre already a human-AI hybrid. You use apps for everything. Computers tell you when to wake up, what email to read, how to spell difficult words, and which lane you should be in on the interstate. You accept all of this direction most of which is controlled by machine learning algorithms because its easier than doing everything the hard way.

Now imagine controlling everything in your home and office with your mind while you bask in the glow of your newfound healthy mental state. We can all worry about the privacy and horror-scenario implications another day right?

Were unclear exactly what time on Friday or on what platform the event will take place, but in the meantime stay tuned to @neuralink and @elonmusk on Twitter.

Published August 24, 2020 18:52 UTC

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Elon Musk may announce human trials at the Neuralink demo. Heres why thats awesome - The Next Web

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Ethics professor suggests mandated ‘morality pills’ instead of vaccine in COVID-19 fight. Doctor hits back with frightening reason why this should…

Ethics professor Parker Crutchfield said "morality pills" in this case, psychoactive medications might be the best option to fight against the continued spread of COVID-19.

In a lengthy essay for the Conversation, Crutchfield an ethicist from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo said that the government could mandate "morality pills" to force citizens to comply with federal and state government mandates and to make them more cooperative and receptive.

Such mandates currently include social distancing and mask-wearing, and "morality pills," in effect, would chemically coerce citizens to follow the rules in order to eradicate the spread of coronavirus.

In his remarks, Crutchfield said that the government could use hormones and/or synthetic drugs to force people into following health regulations due to COVID-19 or, as he put it, "morally enhance" people.

"To me, it seems the problem of coronavirus defectors could be solved by moral enhancement: like receiving a vaccine to beef up your immune system, people could take a substance to boost their cooperative, pro-social behavior," Crutchfield wrote. "Could a psychoactive pill be the solution to the pandemic?"

He later said, "I believe society may be better off, both in the short term as well as the long, by boosting not the body's ability to fight off disease but the brain's ability to cooperate with others. What if researchers developed and delivered a moral enhancer rather than an immunity enhancer?"

Crutchfield, however, despite his apparent excitement over the notion of forced compliance through chemical means, conceded that hormone therapy specifically using the "feel-good" hormone, oxytocin could result in some concerning unintended consequences, such as a promotion of ethnocentrism.

Ethnocentrism is a belief in inherent superiority of one's own culture, race, or ethnic group when compared to others.

According to Dr. Richard Weikart, in an article published on Evolution News, moral enhancement which is associated with transhumanism, the idea that human behavior is genetically determined and could evolve through scientific and technological advancements is a slippery slope.

Weikart wrote, "Oxytocin, one of the darling hormones proposed by those pushing 'moral enhancement,' seems to promote cooperation in [a testing] in-group, but hostility toward the out-group. Thus it may actually increase conformity to one's own society, but perhaps increase racism."

"Do we really want to increase conformity to COVID-19 regulations, if it increases racism?" Weikart asked.

Weikart continued by pointing out the theory of transhumanism is problematic at best.

"[T]ranshumanists have no basis for any objective morality, so whenever they talk about promoting morality, they are merely pushing for whatever they personally think is moral," he reasoned. "If other people disagree with their moral vision, there is no way to adjudicate (other than by reference to who has the power to impose their morality on others ...)."

He added that in such a case, "morality pills" will impose the "moral vision of the technocratic elite."

Weikart explained, "[I]f people are really in need of 'moral enhancement,' how can we trust them to bioengineer 'moral enhancement? What if the technocrats are in need of 'moral enhancement,' too?"

"Some, like myself, think the opposite is true the intellectual elites of our society have been promoting immorality for decades, and if anyone needs 'moral enhancement,' it is them," he concluded.

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Silicon Valley, the start-up incarnation 4/5. Palmer Luckey, the geek who needed to make sure the army supremacy of the West – Pledge Times

Gone is the poster of Uncle Sam pointing the finger at you with that We need you injunction. The US military has long relied on video games to recruit. Americas Army, a shooting game developed to restore the reputation of the institution and attract young recruits, is also in its fourth version. And if, at the origin, the joysticks were inspired by the controls of military planes or helicopters, now it is the combat drones which are piloted with game console controllers. Palmer Luckey is the result of this strange mixture. He is now the head of a $ 2 billion start-up that has the avowed aim of leading the United States and the West to technological supremacy in the war of the future.

Ten years ago, Palmer, a teenager with a passion for war games and Hawaiian shirts, was thinking in the basement of his preschool in California on how to make his favorite hobby more immersive. He imagines the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset suitable for gaming. If he is not the most sociable of teenagers, he is part of a very large online network of very conservative white gamers, who are fighting against the irruption of women and any form of progressive idea in the video game industry. In 2012, he launched his idea on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform, and thus raised $ 2.5 million. Two years later, Facebook bought Oculus for 2 billion, including 1.6 in Facebook shares. Palmers fortune is made.

Not enjoying himself in Zuckerbergs firm, where he cannot express his alt-right ideas too openly, he leaves and sets up a new business, co-financed with Peter Thiel, who also likes Donald Trump a lot and the Lord of the Rings. Thiel had launched Palantir, The all-seeing eye in the novel by Tolkien, a data management company working for intelligence. He helps Luckey to create Anduril, the name of the heros sword which means Protector of the West the West would be fairer in this case.

I created Anduril because Im afraid that the United States will lose its supremacy, explained Palmer, still in Hawaiian shirt, at the Lisbon Web Summit in 2018. The big industrialists are good at making fighter planes, but not are not looking for autonomous weapons, soldier enhancement through transhumanism or military artificial intelligence. The young man then describes his vision of the war of the future. I think the soldiers will soon be omniscient superheroes () I dont think they will directly carry weapons. Each soldier will have an augmented reality headset through which he will have a general and precise view of the battlefield and through which he will control his weapons. Yes, it essentially describes a video game.

Anduril, who has at 1 er July raised 200 million dollars again, landed real contracts with the Pentagon for its flagship product, Lattice (trellis in French). The idea is to cover a territory with sensors: a military base, critical infrastructures, borders An artificial intelligence models the terrain in real time and identifies any intrusion. With a virtual reality headset, a human can almost verify the intrusion with their own eyes. He erected a virtual wall that stretches across the Mexican border and made it possible to arrest dozens of migrants, which Luckey is very proud of. It has just added to Lattice the Interceptor, a combat drone capable of intercepting in the area to be protected another drone in mid-flight, operating completely autonomously. An equally autonomous tank would be in preparation in the hangars of Anduril in Silicon Valley. If we want to define the rules of this war of tomorrow, we must be the first, assures Luckey. We were able to impose rules on nuclear weapons, because we were the best. Technological supremacy is a prerequisite for ethics.

-

Tomorrow Travis Kalanick, Uber.

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Silicon Valley, the start-up incarnation 4/5. Palmer Luckey, the geek who needed to make sure the army supremacy of the West - Pledge Times

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Hi John. Will artificial intelligence replace humanity by 2084? – Eternity News

John Lennox is human. As soon as the worlds most recognisable Oxford Professor of Mathematics smiles at me from his UK study via video link, he is apologising for his need to duck off to the bathroom. His immediate physical need arises from not being able to go beforehand, having just finished a one-hour online Q & A session about his newest book, 2084: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity. Not to be confused with the other book Lennox already put out in 2020 Where is God in a Coronavirus World? or the movie about him to be released later this year.

Tinkering with human beings those ideas interested me. John Lennox

Lennoxs toilet break is an unexpectedly fitting introduction to our conversation about his investigation of artificial intelligence (AI) and what it means for what it means to be human. Riffing on the title of English author George Orwells dystopic novel 1984, 2084 is Lennoxs eloquent and succinct attempt to demystify AI, separate science fiction from science fact, and investigate the ethical and theological questions raised.

But lets cut to the chase of your future-looking book, human. John Lennox, what will the year 2084 be like for people and their intelligent designs? I thought somebody would start with that question, but youre the first interviewer to do it, chuckles Lennox who has been a leading academic Christian in the public square for more than a decade.

Rising to international prominence through viral video debates with new atheist royalty such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Peter Singer, Lennox also has written many books at the intersection between Christian faith and the philosophy of scientific endeavour and progress.

The whole point is to take off from Orwells book 1984, which gave the English language things like big brother and thoughtcrime. There are aspects of artificial intelligence now that actually are fulfilling the role [from] Orwells 1984.

I wasnt writing the book to tell people whats going to happen in 2084 [but] to tell them to think about what might happen in 2084 or whats liable to happen, because of the developments we already have.

Lennox came to see the need to evaluate the course of artificial intelligence after a London church approached him, several years ago, to speak about how the Book of Genesis relates with AI. Lennox initially declined but was soon intrigued by considering what humanity being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) means to the rising tide of artificial intelligence. Since his teenage years in homeland Northern Ireland, Lennox has been interested in big questions such as where does meaning come from and what is the significance of humans in a universe created by God?

My interest was [also] sparked a long time ago by two C.S. Lewis books The Abolition of Man, and the third of his science-fiction book series, That Hideous Strength. Lewis was prescient; he had ideas of, basically, what we now call transhumanism. Those interested me the ideas of tinkering with the germ line, as we would now call it, and tinkering with human beings and producing not humans, but artefacts.

That intrigued me as to where this stuff was going.

At the start of 2084, Lennox admits hes not an AI expert. As an interested and analytical onlooker, he distills where AI is at and might be going, including explaining its two key forms Narrow Artificial Intelligence and Artificial General Intelligence. The former refers to any computer system which can do one thing superbly well that normally takes human intelligence to do; the latter is the transhuman quest for superintelligence, either by enhancing human beings or by creating a humanoid form where, for example, the contents of a human mind could be uploaded. Or much, much more.

Lennox shares what he perceives as positive developments in AI, from a smartwatch that can recognise seizures to online language translators, and algorithms which digitally assist with our daily tasks or needs. He also articulates negatives, flowing mainly from the ethical issues arising from AI. Lennox wonders how often you or I have stopped to realise we carry a portable tracking device with us our smartphone and where our personal data ends up (surveillance capitalism, as Harvard Professor Shoshana Zuboff describes it). What about the human job losses caused by improved artificial intelligence? Or the choice a self-driving car might have to make between crashing into an elderly lady crossing the road or avoiding her but hitting children on the footpath?

People are afraid to say what they really believe about morality. John Lennox

Lennox agrees there is a common view that technological developments always equal positive progress for humanity even though we experience the opposite (such as how advanced warfare or internet access can display the worst in us). Much of his book, 2084, is dedicated to highlighting how artificial intelligence itself is an amoral creation by humans, with moral issues inevitably arising from the real human input into them.

Artificial intelligence is not intelligent at all. It simulates intelligence the word artificial means that the output normally requires human intelligence but in this system, the only intelligence involved which is vastly important is the intelligence of the designers and programmers.

Technological progress is not the same as moral progress; the difficulty is that technology outpaces ethics, says Lennox. So theres an ethical void, which has been dramatically increased by the lack of a common worldview which, for centuries, was Christian in the West, but now were all over the place. And people are afraid to say what they really believe about morality. Thats an absolute tragedy, which is one of the reasons that I like talking about Genesis.

Convinced of the ongoing relevance of the image of God to defining human value and meaning, Lennox also wanted to talk about several popular books anchored in aspects of AI. So much so that Lennox uses bestselling author Dan Browns Origin, as well as Israeli historian Yuval Noah Hararis acclaimed Sapiens and Homo Deus, as structural devices for 2084s points.

Lennox doesnt flinch at being asked if weighing in on an AI novel by controversial and wildly successful writer of The Da Vinci Code was a cheap shot Im interested in what influences millions of people, he explains.

Lennox adds that Hararis input was vital to being able to engage seriously with Browns novel about an AI visionary seeking to scientifically reveal where we came from and where we are going. Hararis books take a more robust, history-based approach to those key questions; History began when humans invented gods and will end when humans become gods, declares Harari.

A superintelligent human already exists. John Lennox

Notably, Homo Deuss advocacy of transhumanism and seeking immortality stirred Lennox at his Christian core. While Lennox doesnt believe Hararis ambition for humans to be able to create actual humans can be achieved Until we know what consciousness is, all talk of that type is pure hype and pure science fiction. We dont know what it is. We havent an idea he was pleasantly surprised to discover how inspired he was by some of what transhumanists seek.

The thing that really turned the corner for me, thinking the book was worth writing, was a sudden and immediate thought that the transhumanist program is too late and its too little because a superintelligent human already exists, says Lennox, alluding to divine man Jesus.

The whole movement of transhumanism assumes were progressing towards [becoming like a god] when actually the movement we ought to be thinking about is the opposite of God becoming man, and providing a basis for a way we could answer Hararis number one problem. The problem of physical death to which the answer is resurrection, not constructing an artificial intelligence

Seeing that there was so much in the transhumanist agenda that really was shadows of the Christian message, I thought Aha, heres a way that I can put Christianity in, perhaps, a rather different way and bring inthings that people normally dont ever do writing a book [about AI].

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Hi John. Will artificial intelligence replace humanity by 2084? - Eternity News

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What to watch on Play Stuff this weekend – Stuff.co.nz

Supplied

A Ms Mojo countdown of reality shows that couldnt be made now, documentary Forever Young and web series Death Land are just three of the great things available to watch on Play Stuff right now.

Need a little light relief this weekend? Then Play Stuff is here to help.

Amongst the more than 20,000 titles, ranging from short-form news reports to movie-length documentaries, there are locally made comedic web series and compilations of some of the funniest moments from TV and cinema.

For those wanting something a bit more serious, there are also features on subjects of national and global importance.

Below are a trio of ideas to get you started.

READ MORE:* What to watch on Play Stuff this weekend* What to watch on Play Stuff this Easter* What to watch on Play Stuff this weekend

DEATHLAND

A lot of people are scared of death. But some people, including The Guardians Leah Green, think about it an unhealthy amount. In this seven-part 2019 series, she looks at ways for us to come to terms with our mortality.

Episodes focus on how visualising death can help us accept it, Green spending a day with terminally ill patients, meeting an end-of-life doula and interviewing members of the radical life extension movement.

FOREVER YOUNG

This 2016 Vice short-documentary explores a unique church in Hollywood, Florida that believes immortality is imminent.

Our guide Claire Evans takes a look at the psychology of the church's members, the history of transhumanism and anti-ageing and the reaction of the mainstream medical community to some of these ideas. Is it just a front for shilling vitamins? Or is it actually the vanguard of the possibility that humans might one day conquer death?

UNMAKEABLE REALITY SHOWS

While many of us think that reality television has hit new lows in recent years, this Ms Mojo compilation aims to prove that some of the earlier ideas were actually far more out there and unlikely to fly in these more enlightened times.

Included in the line-up are the plastic surgery madness of I Want A Famous Face, the ugly pre-Bachelorette deception of Playing it Straight and the self-explanatory Are You Hot?

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What to watch on Play Stuff this weekend - Stuff.co.nz

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Meet the Graduates From Royal College of Art Fashion 2020 – WWD

LONDON WWD highlights six Royal College of Art fashion MA graduate collections, which will be available for all to view on the colleges new digital platform, RCA2020, starting on Thursday.

Details of Mei Sze Tsangs RCA graduate collection.Courtesy Photo

Mei Sze Tsang

Mens wear student Mei Sze Tsangs collection Brickman aims to solve some real-life problems. She got the idea one day when a bricklayer sat next to her on a bus. They began chatting, eventually became friends, and she later started conducting research with a team of bricklayers on a construction site in West London. Tsang observed their movements during work, and identified flaws in their existing work garments. The result is a collection of light, but durable, protective gear thats grounded in reality and reflects what the future of construction workers clothing could be.

3-D models of three looks from Marie Isacssons RCA graduate collection.Courtesy Photo

Marie Isaacson

Marie Isaacson, another mens wear student, explores online alter egos and how people represent themselves in the real world compared to the virtual world, with a focus on gaming. The project is about the relationship that players have with their avatars in massive, multionline, role-playing games, where thousands of people spend varying lengths of time, and the events they experience within these games. Her designs aim to understand and represent the connection between the player and the avatar.

A still image from Marcela Baltaretes 3-D-rendered animation showcasing their RCA graduate collection.Courtesy Photo

Marcela Baltarete

With dazzling 3-D-rendered animations, womens wear design student Marcela Baltarete drew inspiration from their own experiences with gender dysphoria, depression and chronic illness for their graduate collection. I would describe my work as being at the intersection of transhumanism and postgenderism, they said. Realizing all my bodys limitations made me want to create a variation of digital selves in a world where I could visualize myself in a less constricted way, and just be. Ive treated this project as a therapeutic way of working, where I let my instincts lead the direction in which Im going followed by an analysis of my choices.

A coat made from specially treated kitchen towels by Tianan Ding.Courtesy Photo

Tianan Ding

Tianan Ding is a design student, and a musician. The logo ALA, commonly seen throughout the collection, is also her music label. She has been heavily influenced by hip-hop music and streetwear culture since she was a child, but dislikes how luxury brands are capitalizing on the market. Her graduate collection, Revalue, is a critique of the streetwears current status as luxury goods. Shes reversed the value of a garment, using specially treated hand-painted kitchen towel as the fabric, and leather and cashmere as lining. My pursuit is affordable coolness, I would like to advocate the authentic wearer of streetwear, the one who cant afford designer clothes, she said.

A look from Ellen Fowles RCA graduate collection, worn by her grandmother Marian Fowles.Courtesy Photo

Ellen Fowles

Ellen Fowles explores inclusive design with her graduate collection. She created a capsule for her grandmother, Marian Fowles, who now spends most of her time either at home, or in the hospital as a clinical outpatient. My intention was to provide her with garments that would grant her the freedom to live according to her desires, rather than against the constraints of her medical clothing, she said. I use sportswear techniques, such as kinetic garment construction and ergonomic pattern cutting, to enhance functionality. The ability to involve the wearer, and those they frequently interact with, such as carers and physiotherapists, will enable me to cater to a more diverse market, andpractice inclusive design.

A dress made from 3-D modeling, motion capture and 3-D animation by Ss Christine Hejselbk.

Ss Christine Hejselbk

Womens wear student Ss Christine Hejselbk has looked to the theory of proxemics, the study of human interaction in space, for her graduate work. I focus on designing out waste streams, she said. This project consists of a photosynthetic, 3-D printed body-architecture piece that converts CO2 in the atmosphere into oxygen. Through 3-D modeling, motion capture of the body and 3-D animation, she has created a design that could potentially be made from robotically extruded biodegradable materials derived from cornstarch and infused with Spirulina algae.

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