Beyond the Human Surface
Beyond the Human Surface represents a research and speculative narrative into the future of Human Augmentation through Genetic Engineering.
This is a project by Bich Tran.
We are approaching an era where advances in biotechnology will enable the possibility to alter and design with life itself on a genetic and precise level. With our developing understanding of the Genetic Genome, in combination with new technologies like CRISPR, we will be able to alter any life form, including human beings. The question is: How will CRISPR affect the human species? The project is positioned as an exploration and research of this possible future within the specific context of Beyond the Human Surface and temporary adaptability and control of the human physiology through coloured light.
In this section, we invited practitioners and specialists from different fields to join the discussion and share their point of view on the topic.
HUMAN IN THE AGE OF BIOTECHNOLOGY
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BODY AND SKIN
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The archive contains the complete interviews
for further investigation and reading into the topic.
Also for the intro maybe you can state who you are and what is your occupation
Okay, my name is Clemens Driessen. I am a cultural geographer at Wageningen University.
What I read from your page is you say my research starts from the idea that nature is deeply cultural, and so what do you mean by that?
how does this or how would that relate to the idea about technology and CRISPR and synthetic biology, how could that relate to like this framework of thinking?
I think that nature is deeply cultural because the way that we understand nature and our ideas of what nature is or should be has this kind of long history and has been very much influenced by various moments in history where we have learned to look in a certain particular way at what we now call nature. That is the idea of nature and naturalness kind of as a historically emerged as a phenomenon or an ideal and that is very much also what we see now in discussions around genetic engineering that this is often being, you know, contrasted with to changing whatever direction we see fit but that actually all these debates around about what would be acceptable interventions in nature in that they would need to reflect on this history of inventing nature at the same time.
So what you mean is like, the idea of nature is formable?The idea that it is fixed or the idea of natural is just an older idea from a certain time frame and not formable? It is not something that is fixed or the idea of natural is also just an older idea and not the ultimate truth?
So this question of whether there is an ultimate nature underlying or that there is a timeless natural condition, that is probably kind of the historical dream in a way. At the same time there are all these ideas of what is acceptable in terms of how to change organisms or people.Often there is this idea of the nature that is still there. So it’s interesting how it functions, but how to really sort of peal off the cultural layers and get the core, natural condition is a difficult thing to do, because of all these layers of the ideal of nature and naturalness is very deep into this.
So it’s not like, you’re saying it’s not like everything is relative, you can do whatever you want but at the same time its not like we should not touch nature, that is often about caution with technology that we should not mess with nature?
yeah there is the idea of messing with nature, touching nature, and intervening in nature, which is , you can easily retort that that is the nature of agriculture that is what we’ve been doing to animals when we started to domesticate them, and so in that sense the idea of changing nature to our benefit is acceptable but then there is a sense that there is more natural ways and less natural ways of doing so. And what is interesting there is that, for instance, in plant reading, since the 1950s, the idea was that natural mutations, they are random. Thats what makes them natural and whatever evolutionary environments these plants and animals would grow, then that would be kind of validate these mutations as fitting. And so since the 1950s, in plant breading, what they have done is, a lot of some people called then at the time, atomic gardening, where they use these kind of like sources of atomic radiation, nuclear radiation to generate random mutations in plants. In these atomic gardens, whatever variations emerge, then that could be studied for potential benefits and a lot of the fruits we eat now, from seedless grapefruits, they have been produced in this way which is highly artificial, but because of the randomness and the uncontrollability of this process actually this is the ideas that they can be considered to be as if natural. In that sense this is an example of how very artificial conditions can still be labeled natural according to some understandings of it. So that it is really interesting to probe this writing so then the idea that because of this precision and because of this control, the gene editors would say well that is more safe if we now know what we are doing whereas in the kind of understanding of nature and natural as random, it falls outside of the natural.
So natural is kind of random and what we do is more cultural?
Yes, so at least that is sort of, that is the idea that this is therefore more problematic.What is good to realize in these discussions in genetic modification or GM editing is that part of the antipathy to it or the anxiety around it or the critiques of it are based also on all kinds of genuine sense that nature and the natural is a separate domain that we shouldn’t give the keys to some powerful interests that will then just be able to change our environment around us now but indefinitely set things in motion that will then perpetuate. So in that sense it is a different type of technology because these are living technologies that will procreate and in that sense continue to spread.
That was something I wanted to ask, we had a lot of technical innovation in the past but now it is a biological technological innovation and do you see it is a different kind of technology than the computer because it is biological and when technology becomes biological, what do you think the consequences are compared to the not-living?
There is this sense that this is a new threshold or there is a new, this type of, to turn life itself into a technology, to treat it and approach it as technology and to change it is a new thing.There is this one of the first design historians, Siegfried Giedion wrote a book which is called‘Mechanismtakes command’ and kind of describes how all types of different technologies have emerged, he kind of calls it anonymous history which had this great influence but for instance changes in chairs and how we sit from a throne where a king would sit on, so we would change our bodily posture our bodily behavior depending on, kind of an ongoing development of the idea of the chair but also the cultural idea of sitting and he describes how he feels this very deeply ambivalent or even negative about this moment where technology meets the flesh or this sense of‘okay’so he goes to an industrial slaughter houses and describes how animals are slaughtered and he sees this contrast in this totally functional mass production, industrial factory setting with life, living animals being taken up into the machine of efficiency as this kind of, themselves as mechanic, then this unease sort of increases. So there is this sense of, thereby maybe in other plant breading, animal breading there were still a sense of working with nature and not solely up on nature to completely functionalize and optimize life in the goals we may have.
So it means that it follows a certain trajectory we already had but at the same time it means that there is some kind of a cut because it turns inwards in a way?
It is really interesting to see how to define this cut off point or this threshold, like when are you intervening, when do you make this leap or this step in this whole gradual affair of gradually modifying everything around this. And then it’s interesting to see the debates around the recent, the first genome edited babies that were born allegedly last year and the announcement of that created this giant backlash but it’s also interesting to see what the backlash exactly was. For some people this backlash was‘thisshouldn’t have been done, we shouldn’t do this’, for many scientists who were responding were saying’well,this should have been done according to a proper procedure’ or‘thiswas too early’ or‘thereis still some risks involved’ implying that in a not so distant future there will be much less risks and there will become a more acceptable. So to really see this kind of gradient of different types of responses to it is really interesting and there you can also see that the idea of whether if there is such a threshold already for genome editing for animals or animals used in agriculture that they ware even presented as it being a benefit to the animals themselves. So one of the major projects that is always announced as‘thiswill be one of the benign applications of CRISPR-Cas-9 will be to create hornless cows. So now cows, most cows are born with horns and now at an early age burnt off which is clearly very painful so to bread hornless cows would be animal welfare benefit to these animals. There already exists, through natural mutation cows without horns but it is very difficult to bread them into existing highly productive dairy cows. So genome editing could be a way of adapting the cow in a way that would be good for them. So they already see this sense that what is good for cows is based on what kind of conditions we keep them in and that is basically something like horns are superfluous remnants that they could do without, whereas if you watch cows that have horns or speak to farmers who have cows that have horns, then you find that these animals have a very different character, they behave very differently towards each other but also towards humans. So in that sense the idea that we know what is best for these animals under the conditions that we keep them in now can signal us that these kind of decisions in what makes for benign interventions that make nature into lives is always very much conditioned by a particular time, particular conditions.
I feel like the threshold for most people is if it’s practical for us, it is fine but the moment it touches the human flesh, it becomes‘ohno, this is nature, don’t touch us’. What does it mean to be human in the age of biotechnology?
It’s really interesting to think of humans as this threshold that should not be touched, that should not be intervened in and this idea that nature and natural is the norm based on which this is done or the ideal of the human is in its natural state because at the same time nature and the natural is often defined as contrast to humans. This notion of human nature is really interesting model if you see it historically.So maybe this idea of the natural human is mobilized in a way and produced in a way that it is a sacred thing. Because also partly it is very difficult for us to think beyond it and to agree that‘okay,we are not so pleased with who we are and how we are’ some people have argued that we should use genome editing to change our character, to be more moral, its the only way to prevent climate change, to change the human itself.
What does it mean then here is this core value of this natural human, if we high speed trash that idea what then would it mean to be human? Is then anything we do human or are we then as a society woven with the idea of what it means to be human?
If we think of the human in this absolute sense, the kind of image that comes to mind is this Vitruvian indMan or the Leonardo, it’s almost as if you say‘lookmom without hands, I’m not wearing any clothes, I’m totally self-contained’ and this is the human, it’s being an individual, our body is enough for us to be independently human, we are not much without our equipment and appliances and years of education etc. So many people argue we are a technological being but often these technologies are used to prop-up the Leonardo guy, so it helps us pretend we are individuals with our mobile phones and constant internet access, this is our way of being an individual or to try to be one. So part of these ideas of what would be allowed as an intervention would be to promote this individuality than promote as collective beings.
So you mean by promoting this individuality you can allow a big diversity?
C: I don‘t know if it will mean a big diversity. I mean if you will leave it to people themselves, if they get to change themselves, I don‘t see a massive diversity coming up. You know everybody makes the same selfies. In that sense will it generate diversity? The other trend will be to increasingly, you know, reduce diversity because everything that seems to be slightly different from the normal, the average can be defined as abnormal, as disease. You know, it‘s a bit like when you start with plastic surgery, then everybody says you look a bit the same.
B: ok but then you mean a bit like more like by moulding individuality it would be more a way to push it, like technology. To be accepted. Because we‘re a bit like: ah we‘re Western, we like individuality. So this is just a different way...
C: I mean, yeah. This idea of some government or some corporation deciding for us what we should be like or to engage in a human-breeding-project, that‘s considered deeply problematic since the second world war. So that‘s a no go area. Even though, you know, these ideas came up in the late 1920‘s and early 1930‘s and really became quite fashionable to discuss in the late 1920‘s and early 1930‘s. So when the idea of eugenics and human breeding as a political and ideological moment came up this was not just a facist project there was also a kind of more left-wing or liberal of eugenics that started in the UK.
B: That‘s not how it‘s branded nowadays.
C: No, no but that kind of got lost along the way. So after the second world war, the idea of doing this as a top down project was off but at the same time, you know, increasingly there were all kinds of options becoming available in which we decide about our offspring, right, we can prevent all kinds of hereditary diseases by testing them on a ring and prenatal testing and et cetera. So it became a kind of individual choice for parents rather then a kind of government program to decide on things. But the eventual, you know, the outcome of it is not so different perhaps than in these more controversial ones.
B: ah that‘s a very interesting thought. I never thought about it in that way, in that sense. Because I feel like the future would be the dominated by corporations. They‘re funding the high money, like it‘s a bit like a 32.26 of a Tesla of like genomic editing than government based.
C: Yeah yeah exactly. So editing the human will be a corporate affair but then again, you say Tesla but everybody wants it, so it‘s desirable. And there is a sense that there is an unavoidable future to it, like in the end all automobiles will electric, in the end the car will drive itself, you know, no matter what we will do that will be the outcome. You can get in now or you can get in later but that is where we are heading. So this changing of the human will also be packaged as an individual choice for middle class parents who want the best for their offspring.
B: and that‘s inevitable?
C: Mhm. I‘m not sure if it‘s inevitable. There is also this question: what will be the time frame? Nobody knows and has ideas. There is this sense that announcing things or presenting things as inevitable has this kind of performative effect that then people will go along with it. So, why is the automated car inevitable? What problem is being solved with that? Well, that‘s kind of unclear but still people go along with this vision. Many people sort of buy into it and the same goes for these kind of new technologies. They will have an effect of changing people‘s expectations, people‘s shared norms of what is acceptable and what is not. If certain kinds of diseases or if certain kinds of bodily variations can be solved, certain kinds of disabilities can be solved then the acceptance of these disabilities in the societies and the norms around them will change.
B: So maybe it starts with diseases and then it goes into a different direction?
C: Yeah and then, you know, also what a disease is and a burden. Those are not fixed objects.
B: Maybe a question that really fits with that is actually if we can alter our skin, like actually to our needs and desires. Maybe it starts with disease but then always the humans needs and desires come in and if we can alter our skin how does this effect us culturally? Can it be a solution in a sense or is it problematic because next to skin there is race and belonging and clan. That‘s all related to skin. So what would you see in that if we can decide to alter our skin?
C: Would we decide to alter our skin for ourselves or our offspring or how would that...
B: That is actually a good question. Then you have to deal with a whole other topic: if you decide for yourself. Now let‘s say, if you have a library of certain functions that can be activated for yourself and you would temporary change to this.
C:Well, it would be really interesting because it would totally change the meaning of skin colour and skin it will become like a garment perhaps, like fashion.So it could also mean that the current types of ideas around race and around racial hierarchies in many different cultures, that would change. In a way you can expect maybe then massive variation or subcultures or you already have people implanting vampire teeth and you know, so in that sense you can imagine this to become a source of variation andvery different way of relating to identity.In a way now skin is considered to be like we‘re totally locked inside it, there is no way out, to step outside of it like with a garment.
B: For me it sounds more helping if you frame it like that?
C:In a way, this could be a way to radically solve all social hierarchies around skin colour. At the same time, humans will probably find a way to mess this up, right? Will it be universally accessible? Will it be very expensive? If it‘s very expensive it will only sort of exaggerate certain hierarchies associated with skin colour.So on that sense, yeah, will people use it functionally to not get sunburned in summer? What will be medical effects of it? It is interesting to speculate about all kinds of ramifications at the same time these very speculative scenarios and thinking them through, there is also a danger that we kind of accept the technology as if it‘s ready as if genetic editing is unproblematic, it will be easy, it will be as if stepping out and into some clothing. Whereas actually really interesting are all these debates around gene editing, you know, the way it‘s been discussed is there still some risks involved, there is what they call mosaicism where it‘s just one particular gene you may change but it could turn out that some cells would have the gene and others won‘t. So you get a kind of mixed pattern. I don‘t know wether that will be reflected in skin, mosaicism in skin that sounds quite intriguing as an outcome, and scary. So in that sense we also shouldn‘t downplay the experimental care role of this technology. Another way of talking about this is in terms of off-target-effects. So there are scissors that you do, or editing you do, to a certain text but still this may reverberate in other places f this text. So the outcome of that is also unclear. And then there is the whole debate about epi-genetics and post-genomic understanding of heredity, where it‘s not just as if this code is not one on one giving the blue print on who we are but there is also a lot of environmental factors involved et cetera. So, when thinking through these kind of scenarios it‘s interesting but mostly it‘s interesting to reflect on these cultural conditions around skin and skin colour and how these may change but we shouldn‘t loose all the nitty gritty that this technology will involve and the ways it may turn out very differently. Both, culturally but also physically.
B: I‘m not sure if I completely understand. Because these scenarios are interesting to think about in the future but then you mean it‘s more interesting to think about the difficulties now to understand it better?
C: I think it will be good to understand the technical difficulties. In order to not to go along too easily because then you reinforce the unproblematic promise that these technologies have. If you too easily step into a scenario where something will be completely controllable and have no risks and it will be cheap and it will be freely available - this is quite unlikely to be the case. So, even though it is interesting to think through these scenarios on a cultural level, it‘s good to also realise, in doing so, we may hop over a few bumps in the road.
B: But that means those scenarios need to incorporate this, need to incorporate these bumps. Because then we can start to talk about the things that are happening now, because like, it can be like super cheap and so great but that‘s a trend because that gets fucked up. You then just have to sign this agreement and it‘s done...
C: Exactly, so the risks that are involved will mean probably it will be more a voluntary thing and the types of interventions that will emerge will be partly defined by things that may be easy to change. Skin colour in that sense, if there is the idea of one gene, one trade, which is very doubtful of course but it would be relatively easy to change such a feature. Then still, all those bumps are interesting to think through, like ok, what happens if then indeed things turn out differently?
B: I think that was a more and more imaginative translation. In a project, not only changing the melanin in skin but maybe incorporate new things we didn‘t have before. Like, it can change the functionality and completely the look also. How it could form, let‘s say. And maybe shortly a question: skin is kind of the layer between the inside and the outside for living beings and that‘s how we experience the world but then if we change the functionality, the looks or like how we actually feel and what we can feel, maybe the parameters of feeling, what happens when we start to change that interface?
C: I mean, maybe even the very idea that skin is an interface is a very sort of cultural moment, right? And the idea of the interface as something malleable, as something that is helping us to relate to the environment. So one way of approaching this type of scenario could also be to not just see, so ok we have our current situation and now we move to a new situation where everything is the same only we have metallic skin. But at the same time, you know, there are all these other technological promises that are also developing. There‘s the robots, there‘s the artificial intelligence, so what happens if you combine those? What happens if you look at humans as more and more operating as prostatic extensions of robots or of artificial intelligence?Somehow being sort of in competition with our sense of intelligence or of who we are. And the you add a metallic skin on top of that. So this question of identity and the human as something to not to be intervened in, you would also need to relate to this parallel development, where we are being slowly replaced or remodelled. So maybe we want to grow a fur or become metallic to get into a particular position in relation to technology and also in relation to
animals. Maybe it‘s this worry of the Leonardo Da Vinci guy with his arms spread and showing his humanity, maybe we become less worried about looking like animals.
B: So you mean, thinking about this you have to see the other streams and also there will be a cultural reaction to it in that sense.
C: Yeah, I can imagine. And one of the cultural reactions will be, because as humans and this ideal of the independent autonomous human is against technology but also setting us about against animals historically, right? And this is one of the really interesting developments in genome editing where there‘s all kind of animals that people are thinking of equipping with human bits of human genomic information. So there is the idea of breeding human organs in pigs and there is people working on that. To kind of have pigs as carrying little replacement parts for humans and but this also starts with the idea that this organ is a contained thing, that you can let a pig grow a human kidney without human cells travelling through the body or even into the brain.
B: But I‘m sure this is not how it works...
C: Exactly, so for example there are interesting people working at SALK institute in the US, where they are working on this idea of xenotransplantation, of genome editing and also to breed human organs. And they feel like, ok, there was this boundary of human cells, human genetic material entering the brain of pig embryos. So it‘s not just as if the human is being sort of changed from the outside but there is also that other organisms dissolve into other organisms. Already people are trying to get rat cells to live in mice. They already have trouble in sort of defining: are we talking about a mouse or is this a rat? So this identity of these animals become a bit shifty and then if you think of a pig‘s skin it‘s already quite human. At least some pigs have this caucasian type skin, right? So this sense of touching this animal and knowing it‘s skin might be partly human and the eyes of a pig, knowing that part of what is in their brains is kind of human genetic information and then maybe also the thought that while we assume that it‘s only the brain that makes us human already the human kidney in a pig make us look differently at a pig perhaps.
Arne Hendtriks: My name is Arne Hendriks and I am an artists,… artistic researcher - something like this.
Bich Tran: When technology becomes biological, what do you think are the consequences?
A: What are the consequences of technology becoming biological? You know for me it is already hard to make that distinction in itself, because I think that form follows function, and I guess technology to us always has function- we want something from it. So the difference between biology and technology in this sense is not a desire thing, or what you could say of course is that the body is alive, the body has certain rights or the body comes from different essence- but those are not questions that are so interesting to me, to be honest.
For me it is more about the fact that my body is always with me, and the fact that I can sense it, and the fact that my body interacts with my environment and is the result for living in a certain space under certain conditions, and it responds to that.
So for me that is why working with living matter and my own living matter, using my body as an example or as an instrument to express myself it just makes sense, because it's the only thing I really know.
When I pick up a knife, or a camera or a gene editing tool, that tool is sort of alien to me. So what you might say is when that tool stops being alien to me, whereby maybe technology transgresses into biology and my own biology, this is where it becomes interesting for me. So maybe that might be happening, maybe that tool you are describing or the technology becomes intimate again, where I can sense it, where I can understand it, where it can become part of me, which is very important as I can only trust my own intuition or my own experience.
For me an itching toe is more interesting than the most complex algorithm, because my toe is something which I can feel, think about, touch and scratch, and this is what I want from my tools.
B: It sounds to me that you would be interesting in applying new tools to your body, if they are available?
A: I might become interested, but what I am saying is that the body is already such a complex tool to me- I don’t understand an itchy toe, you know I could spend the rest of my life thinking about this itchy toe.The problem I see with technology is that we are moving forward and forward and forward and innovating and innovating and innovating, yet we do not understand the core of ourselves even.
B: Is the core what it means to be human?
A: Yes what it means to be human or what it means to feel, or to sense. I like technology which helps you to understand yourself better, but a lot of times what I see happening with technological advancement is that it runs towards some kind of imaginary future, and of course creates a kind of future in its path, and that of course is how it works.
So yes I am open to exploring the world through new tools, but not beyond the borders of myself, in sense I don’t even understand myself yet and I think humanity has the same problem.
We are spending a lot of time outside of ourselves and spending time finding solutions to problems from being outside ourselves. So maybe it's time to take it a little more slow, or perhaps redirect our gaze.
Of course gene editing or the kind of things you are exploring could be part of this exploration, its very much about direction rather than the tool, what is it you want to do with it?
B: What does it mean to be human in the age of biotechnology? For you is there even a distinction or is it always the same topics that matter.
A: I guess there is a chance that it will allow us to understand ourselves better. It's such a broad topic, I would need to think about that!
B: The skin is interesting because it is where man and god‘touch’,the idea of prometheus, that we are becoming the new gods - in a wild and circling way-
I still find this thought interesting to come back to.
A:It's a popular idea that we are behaving like God, because we have started to design ourselves and we move beyond the natural borders of who we were, that these new tools give us power, that some people think we should not have. But then again, that presumes that we are not enough, that we have a desire to to be, or will become Gods. You know if we can become Gods, then we are already Gods- that's how I see it.
Life is so insane, its pure magic in so many ways, the way we grow a nose hair, or an itchy toe or the tone of your voice. There's so much magic here to explore, that I think that’s already God, or life, or whatever you want to call it.
And these tools will not necessarily help us to become more interesting, but more interesting is not always better- it's about paying attention to the smallest details of what we already have, the tools we make need to help us rather than get in the way.
It all depends on the intention on who has that tool, do we want to become better at loving each other? Or more empathetic, or do we just want an edge on the competition- that we hear better, or see better or our skin is fire proof- what are going to do?
That's the thing with gene editing, you can speculate and use your imagination. When you go to the cinema, all the future speculations of what we might become are there right in front of us.
But I don’t think there are any limits, especially in our imagination, but I don’t think it means we will do things better, unless we re-address our direction. What do we want from this in the short period we have? There is potential for the tools, but there is always opportunity for abuse.
B:(Sorrycannot hear your question)
A: Your imagination is the limit, you can imagination everything about the future- it's not so difficult, its very easy to come up with crazy scenarios about how the future of humanity will be. But what is more difficult is to figure it out right now- I don’t think we are doing a great job at being human right now, being empathic to our environment, we have so much to learn.
So if these tools can help us, then great- but I wonder if it is even possible- there is never talk about how we can be more empathic or understand the other better. It’s always about growing another brain, or having better hearing or being immune to all these diseases.
B: In my interview with Clemens Driessen he spoke about using genetic engineering to make humans more empathic, as the only way to avoid global warming, being empathic to the world-
A: Are we not already human enough? Aspects of being human which are at the forefront is things such as, how smart are you, how competitive are you, how docile are you in working conditions, are you able to listen- these are areas of humanity which we are good at developing. Other aspects of humanity we develop less, and this is not because we cannot develop them but because that is just the‘system’.That system is also going to design the direction of the gene editing that will take place, so if the system doesn’t change first then all these new technologies will just be part of the same ideas about humanity.
B: We need to redirect the vision? A job opportunity.
A:Then the same question comes, can these tools help us change the system which will create the tools? Kind of a chicken and an egg story. That’s just context-
The bigger context is always the political context, who gets it, who will it benefit, and talking about these topics and themes devoid of context is just very naive and not satisfying.
Then the conversations that could be had get very long and very specific, especially in talking about genetics.
B: One of the skins I have been developing is that its adaptable to the environment, like a fish skin, which helps you to be better in the water.
But we could also feel more like fish, through the scales- and this way does this help us to be more empathic and feel like animals?
A: What kind of desire is behind these proposals?
Sure you will always find people within niches, who do want to feel like a fish and would be very happy to.
But again, what is the purpose? If it's to make people who really love fish happy or the people who live by the ocean- to sort of be hybrids. Then that’s a very small, contained goal.
B: What makes it hard to talk about?
A: I think about these things and of course I am a speculative designer or artist, so I like to travel along these fantasies for while. But if I talk about my project, The Incredible Shrinking Man, I see the body as an outcome of the political system, I see my own very large body as a materialisation of ideas. I don’t see it as a goal in itself, so if people were to become smaller I would see it as an outcome of changes in society.
If you would have fish skin on a person, then that would be the result of changes in society, not that a group of scientists discovered how to do it, and then just did it. But to some extent that is of course what causes change in society, there is money for research, there is desire in people to fund it.
We can do any kind of thing, but what is the result of what?
B: Neglected empathy, we always see ourselves above animals, can we connect to the legacy of this.
A: The fish has nothing to say, if we are going to be cosy with fish, are we going to have sex with fish? What are we going to do?
How empathetic is this going to be? Are we going to be in their environment, are we going to build underwater houses where there used to be plants and fish? It is still these human desires projected onto fish, but this is important to be aware of- I am pretty sure you can still be empathetic to fish without wearing a fish skin.
But you will still be human, living in your way- but giving space to the fish- we shouldn’t start colonising oceans and taking fishes homes.
It's a bit bullshit, this why why why? Not the project, but my way of talking about it.
I have quite a sober desire, whilst we are running ahead there is so much here, being extremely smart, connecting all kinds of science, because of course our imagination is amazing!
Our tools are becoming so powerful that all of our imagination can actually be done, whether it's in the real world or through VR for example.
B: What is then a sober desire for you, in terms of the future of skin?
Lets see everything as skin for a while to open up the thoughts, and a different way of seeing the world.
The skin does not only feel, but is the way we connect with so much more, there is the 5 or 6 known senses, but then there are more 10-15 which shape the way we sense the world.
B: I had this other interview whereAngelique said that skin does not only feel but, but that’s what we connect mostly to the skin, but it has so many other sensors.
It has more than just the 5 or 6 senses that we commonly say we have, but it’s more like 12 or 15. So then, the skin is like a very globalised tool where we interact with the world.So it is very amazing.
A: Yes. But even the fact that Angelique says now that there are not 5 but 12 sensors, the fact that you know that somebody is walking behind you … how long have we been talking about that?
B : …
A: Not very long I think. It is knowledge that is being explore. Now here and there people are starting to talk about that. That is the result of paying attention. It is not the result of new technology. It is the result of…thinking about, feeling, sensing, being present rather than to present. To being in the now. And, as I am sure that you are aware, our tools often create a distance between us and the now, and the being here. We are somewhere else, in our minds, with that technology. We desire something else, we don’t want to feel as we feel now, we want some other feeling. So often this technology is d not bringing us closer, rather it creates an even complexer relationship with the reality. That we just have to figure out, while new complexities are being added to the end of it and so that distance and that understanding of the now becomes impossible because as you are moving forward, wherever science or possibilities are is moving forward faster. Ok, that be it, you know science is does also the thing.
But also, we are not paying attention to where we are coming from. Because we are trying to adapt, trying to understand, trying to take advantage, trying to be part of, just to be part of those developments. But we are not really paying attention sometimes to where we come from, while we are doing that. Just to… And if you look at society today there is such a desire to just… be in the now for a moment. And obviously that desire grows as we feel the distance becoming bigger with all the things we could be doing or can be doing and the things that we are doing. And technologie most often does not brings you closer, it just creates more distance.
So this is an interesting assignment for technology. I am, you know, there are people working on it, I am sure..and I know. To try to ..be here, right now.
B : So you don’t say no to the new technology but you say it needs to be… like you are not being nostalgic about it, you don’t say that in past we did not have it and it was a better life in that sense, or more pure, but like you see more like, as we move forward we always need to reflect and look back to how we were and what makes us us in that sense, and incorporate those in the new technological system or societal system, is that what you are trying to say?
A : Yeah. You even wonder if there is a forward right? We are here all the time, we are in this point and technology is around us all the time, technology surrounds us so I guess is it not a moving forward kind of movement, it is not linear. We’re part of this circle and we can come closer and closer and closer somehow to ourselves. But there is also only so much time and you also have to do other things in life… But yeah, i think there are certain technologies. I don’t know if that is a good example, but something like the microscope. Where you are able to just stay here and if I would had a very powerful microscope I could to spend the rest of my life here, just looking at my clothes, the table… and that is a tool that would allow me to do that. As a metaphor let’s say.Of course the tools allows you to do a lot of other things, but zooming in, rather that zooming out-asI think a lot of new technology are zooming out, making things bigger, making distances larger etc etc - zooming in would be something that I would be very interested in. And if you start zooming in at your skin, was! you know if you start zooming in at your skin you start learning all the things that it can do , not necessarily with the microscope but with your sensors, and trying to understand the extra potentials in your skin. Which is a specific word is that there is always a potential for action in your skin ; only when you pinch it, you feel pain, but the potential for pain is always there. And the potential for being ticklish is always there. And the potential for heat and cold is always there, it is on. It is always on. So what else is there? What other potentials are there in your skin. I mean I can imagine that technology, or awareness, or slowing down or being here, are all factors that can help in that way.
B : Would you think for example it would help or would it be more distracting, I am trying to understand, if we could program the same sensors, but much more intensified? Do you see this as something more distracting or something that can help to zoom in this feelings?
A : It is not about putting the volume wide open. It is about developing a better sensitivity. So it is a development from within rather than the input from outside. Technology can enhances the input somehow, so that you feel more. But it would be interesting to have technology that would allows you to really develop your sensibility rather than have an extra pair of whatever.
B: Ok because for me if I have the senses that I have, I have a limited sensing of the world. But if I could have, let’s say, to the senses I have, a sense that can feel more the magnetic fields, or that could be sensing electricity, or wifi around me or certain kind of other frequencies that I don’t have for example, that would allow me to have a more complex understanding of the world. For me it is not about getting an extra sensor for …., but it would enhance the understanding of the world in that sense. Because what we can understand is out-there but we have this small slice, it would be interesting to open up that slice also.
A : Yeah! If that is your desire. I guess what I am saying is that the world is already very complex, and that we are not paying attention to that complexity, and what your saying is… I want to understand the full complexity of the world more. Or I could understand more if I would be able to pick up a wifi signal or I would understand…whatever, solar radiation better. Of course that would also ask of you a sort of processing power to understand all that information, how to understand it. I am thinking of this girls who is sensing all the earthquakes around the earth, she has this little something in her head or something where she feels all the earthquakes, so she knows, when there are earthquakes, so of course it is a very global awareness. And it is a very interesting thing I mean it is a very interesting project. But there is so much else to do I would say. But I am not saying you should not be doing it, only for my own perspective.. you know, watching a bird or a rainworm in itself is already so incredible, that there is also a lot to be learning from that. But of course there is not a thing that is better than the other ; let’s say observing a rainworm or holding it, feeling it wiggle in your hand, and being connected to earthquakes around the world, both of them are valid, while it is interacting with the world outside of you.It is just that we seem to be so focused on the technological ways of understanding the world. whereas we are maybe, I dont want to be to harsh in my judgment but it seems it seems that we are ignoring what is right in front of us. And that is very human thing. If it is in front of you it is never valuable. It would be so amazing if we could learn to really value the things that are just there, in front of us. Before, maybe running ahead. Because now it seems that we are only trying to get to the next thing and we have not even payed attention yet. If you don’t learn how to pay attention here, how are we going to be able to pay attention running ahead. It is not about the tools-that’swhat I am trying to say. It is not about the tools, it is about uhm… you can enhance you skin, you can connect to all sort of things, but if you are not able to be sensitive to a rainworm, or to the rain, or to breathe, first - then those tools are not gonna help you much I would say.Sure, they are going to do all sorts of things, there will be all sorts of outcomes, and that is why I like so much your focus on skin because it si right there, you have it all the times, you can all the times do experiment with it. Basically it is a huge experiment that is ongoing, just by zooming in on your skin, you have opened up a palace of knowledge, to learn. So everything you scratch yourself, or you have a mosquito bites, or an allergie, everytime you have a blush, every time something happens to your skin, something happens to your skin!
B: It is true, I think that is the starting point. But I think as a designer, in the context of the project, I have to translate to other poeple, you have the same thing but they don’t… I have to translate it into a something different so that they can somehow through a loop experience that, think about that… Maybe it goes a bit into a fantasy world but that helps you… fantasy can , if it s done right, I think, it connects back to reality.
A: Yeah, but I also think you can also design interesting things.I think that designers also should often not design, let’s say.So it is never a good reason to say because it is a design project, I have to design something.Maybe sometimes, because you are the designer, you are the one that knows : let’s not design anything here.I think at least the opportunity you stay open, when you get into any kind of design project, the possibility of not designer there, not making a design there, should be open. Of course not because your are lazy or because you cannot think of something, but because of a research done and a sort of an awareness that hey, it does not need anything, it is good. I heard something that you said, yes, because that is a design project, and I understand but , I don’t think the way we are discussing this, it is not about not designing, it is about trying to circle towards the point where the designer can be of added value. From my point of view, not from the world’s point of view. Where does this skin need a little hand for you to do, or to continue doing what you have already been very sensitive to, to whatever your skin is or what skins are in general. And I some point you come to the point of being very frustrated : can I really sense no more? Is this all I can sense? I need to sense more, there is something more I need to understand. And this is the moment that you start to design. But not a moment before that i would say. First you explore everything within your own.. and the design is actually the design of yourself, a sort of educating yourself, a sort of creating more sensibility within yourself. And then you come to a point, and I come to this point in my work you know, I read and I think and I come to the point that the world has nothing to offer to me, and then I just make something up. I just create a speculation or a fantasy, because I need it! Because if I don’t have it, my desire collapses or my worldview collapses and I don’t want that to happen. And then sometimes something nice happens.
B: So the the design or the creation comes to the moment when it is really needed instead of like, because it is possible…
A: I think that is my message, that is very well put : I think need comes before the possibility. it sounds a little bit austere, but let say the need can come from fantasma reasons, it does not have to be because we have to save the world, but the need needs to be genuine. And then there is a good reason, and then you will always understand why you are doing designing this. And it much less about, oh ok, what should i do? Should I go for fishskin, or should I go for asking that makes me invisible, or light as a feather, right? Because there is no limit to it.
B: Yeah yeah. I hear that I and think the the ones that I have chosen let’s say, they are rounded from the ideas of possibilities, but at the same time they are based on needs, in that sense. Because in an art school context it would be more about your needs in that sense, that is expressed, because Design Academy is more about the design, so for the people let’s say, so we have to balance those 2, also in the way you talk about. Because you also asked me why are you so interested in the skin, what fascinates you about the skin? that I should maybe reflect on it. And I wrote down that skin carries the traces of our environment, past and present, carries our history and communicates about identity and place, but in a way that shows, so you can’t choose. If you are from subsahara for instance, wherever you walk globally, in Tokyo in NewYork, it will show, you cannot hide in a sense. And I thought that maybe if you can change that, that you can choose you identity, which is what we do as human, we can change it in a different way. Because we loe to show identity but we don’t want to be restricted to what nature has thought of, because we were born there and we have this DNA, maybe we can choose to show it through… Like, I am very connected to the Alps, I really love them, so maybe I could have a skin that shows me a specific areas of the Alps, like a graphical datas, like the hight map lets say, that would be expressed on my skin. It shows identity based and belonging but in a different way.
A: So rather than taking a tattoo of the Alps you would express something about the alps on your skin
B : Exactly. Also almost as a guidance, you could be in the Alps, and only by touching yourself you could literally feel that I am here, I need to go up here… So that would be different ways to come from a need, let’s say but design it into different kind of like propositions.
A: Yeah but when you were talking.. I got a completely different sense. Ok so when you come form subsahara for instance, you can’t really hide it. And it felt for a moment that you were saying if I was creating a white anglo-saxon complexity, then I would not have to deal with that and I could just be whoever I want to be, which is of course … in this time frame it would be western europe, in a hundred years from now it could be China, sort of all, starting to look like to power of the moment. So again it becomes very political.If you could completely change then you don;don’t have to deal with where your from, and who you are, you switch, you basically thrown that away - well, maybe not, maybe you can switch back I don’t know - and you start to behave like you are supposed to behave, skinwise. To have a easier time at getting a job, i don’t know. Do we want this type of world? Or do we want a world in which everyone understand that this sahara man or woman deserves as much. Are we going to educate ourselves, as people, that everybody deserves the same chance does not matter if you are green, or blue. Or are we going to design a world in which everything is so competable that we can always sort of… it is a very fundamental choice.So again it is a question of : do we change our own individual sensibility or do we change the outside?To just develop technology, to either blame the technology for the fact that nothing has changed or to use the technology to not to have to change…. that is the thing.
I would really like to see a different direction. There is just some much emphasise on this direction, and so little emphasise on : what are we going to do, who do we want to be, as a species.
B: And for that we don’t necessarily need technology…
A: For that we absolutely don’t need technology. That is not a technological question. And if we are going to use technology for addressing that question, great. But if we are going to use technology not to have to address the question, it is difficult. Although I am sure there all sort of exception where you can say yes but.. But the fundamental question for me remains this. So you started of with this biology technology question and somehow it circles back to it. For me biology first And technology as the manifestation as the biological will or our cultural will to create a fairer world I would say. And then technology could be great. Even genetics, this type of tenchologies. But skin is great, such a great topic.
B: I hope I can trigger…
A : The topic that you biting into now are going to … This is going to takes you 10, 15 years, this is not something that you can fully grasp, fully understand, fully explore… in the timeframe of a project for school. This become questions that travel with you for life. And development, steps forwards are rare you know, maybe once a year, twice a year you feel that bam! Now I have at least digest the things that I researched, the experiences I have had, I have digested them and I have become a different person through them and my person is now this and I now that in a year from this or 2 years from now, this will have change again. So that is a amazing thing to know, that the topic that you are stepping into is a topic that will, if it’s something that really fascinates you, it will start to design your life for you.
B: The fact that we can imagine anything and that it now we can do all these things. Because before it was fantasy. 30 years ago you could imagine digitally to be fluid, racewise, or with avatar you could be somebody else, but now maybe as you say ti becomes real, in the physical world and that is changing the societal fabric. So there needs to be a different sensibility for it.
A: Yes, technology… my god. Bio tech…I guess for me I don’t see a moral reason why we should not interfere at least in ourselves; other species are another discussion for me. Because other species are other species. You re probably gonna get that fish skin from a fish, but you cannot ask the fish right? So that is a different question. But then you also have all this things we do with crops, we also don;don’t ask grains if we should enhance them or make them better, better resisting to sicknesses or better resisting against drugs … we don’t ask them .
B: I am dealing with what can happen to human but I guess what will happen first is that we first gonna take all the animals and start changing them before we touch on the humans, be
A : We doing it of course, we already done it. There are already so many altered species around now.
B: So for you that is more questionnable, more morally questionable
A: It is a different discussion, and that also have to do with who do we thing we are? Where are we? Are we going to take care or are we going to take? What are we gong to do? We don’t seems you don’t have a purpose at the moment, so I think this would be a good question to have. and then of course what we are going to do with our technology will follow our direction. I think what you can do is : of I have a gun, let’s shoot someone. But that is the tools that creates me desire, my possibility, my direction. If I would be before I don’t think it would come to my mind oh I wan to shoot something. And still we are developing those guns so at some point someone must have wanted it, I don’t know. And where that desire comes form is another discussion because that can also be manipulated, one technology creates the desire for the next technology and it has its own logic, hum… but to create facilitating technology for exploring ourselves and who we want to be and where we want to go, that would be amazing I would say.
B: I am going to meet and transhumants and a ethic specialist. Is there questions that you would like to ask to them?
A: How do they come to the point that they come to the point that they start to call themselves transhumanists and what is their desire that initiated that personal road. I guess not the same as someone that would do ethics, I think we touched upon a lot f of those things right?
B: Yeah, but I can imagine that an ethic would have a different point of view than you, or let’s say a different set of answers in that sense, maybe it
A: Yeah maybe. I would be interested to know… Ethics seems to be a very human field. We create it. All the ethics that are out there are human ethics. So I would be interested to know if there are a transhuman, or whatever, if there are other fields of ethics being explore, than the human perspective
B : That is more like the more than human philosophy..
A: How do you know, ethically, if something is right or wrong, in the sense that is it is always a human being that initiate a rule. It is always a way of living together, and agreement amongst people, but how do you start to create a new ethical field where it does not stat you know with this historical burden that we have in which we were always trying to make you good for ourselves . How do you know that the ethic we are create is an ethic for life and not an ethic for human life. How do you know how to start? Because even initiating a though is a human process when it comes down to this kind of process. But I don’t know, maybe that is not his or her field…That was something that interests me.
B: But that comes down to the idea of taking care
A: Well no because taking care is also very human centered, because we are the one going to take care. It is more facilitating, it just gives you a very specific role, but it si still very anthropocentric. I am talking about and ethic that sort of is about life. Life telling itself, these are the rules according to which we live and the at the people adhere to those rules. But we cannot just say these are the rules, that is what we are also doing and that are the ethics.
And for that we don’t necessarily need technology.
For that we absolutely need, don’t need technology. That is not a technological question. And if we’re going to use technology for addressing that question- great. Uhm, but if we are going to use technology not to have to address the question- it is difficult. Although I am sure there are all sorts of scenarios, where you can always make an exception, you can always say:‘Yeah,but…’. But the fundamental question for me remains this. So I don’t know, you started of with this biology/ technology questions, somehow it circles back to it, I feel. That for me biology first. Let’s say. And technology as a manifestation of the biological will or our cultural will to create a… I don’t know,‘fairerworld’, I would say. And then technology can be great. Even genetics or even these type of technologies. Yeah. But skin is great. I mean skin is really such a great topic.
I hope I can like trigger this kind of, like…
You know it’s not going to… This is going to take you 10, 15 years. The topics that you are biting into now, are going to, you… This is not something that you can fully grasp or fully develop or fully explore in the time frame of a project for school.
These become questions that travel with you for life and development... Steps forward are rare, you know. Maybe once or twice a year you feel that:‘Bam!’.Now I’ve somehow digested the things I have researched, the experiences I have had, the projects I tried. I have digested them. And I have become a different person through them. And my position is now this and I know that in a year from here or two years from now this will also have changed again. So that is an amazing thing to know, that the topic that you are getting into, is a topic that will, if it is something that really fascinates you, it will start to design your life for you. What are you looking for dude? Did you expect something different from me? I guess so, maybe more speculative, more phantasm, or more free…
I think, I think like, I came with a different idea, but then also like in a way I do understand… And I think that’s always the challenge, but also the interesting part to talk with you. Because it is, it can be always different than what you would come in for. And I think that’s very valuable, in that sense. So… In this context I need to see how it is, but I think yeah, how we talk about society, I think that is all a very valid point. Of how to look at this technology, but not only at this technology, but any technology around us. It’s a very macro point of view of how we deal with anything related to us. Like technology, social, political in that way and I think yeah it feeds into it, but like I didn’t expect it. Because you know and I need like… There’s another question I prepared: Okay, but in what framework is it like good to talk about in that sense? And for me it’s more like, I’m sitting like, okay... Where would it... What would be interesting to talk about? In that sense I think like, for example, from your point of view, what other aspects should we also consider and I feel like that was the main thing. What we talked about now. Let’s not talk about the technology or how interesting it is to do this or that, but let’s talk about uh… How it means, what it means to actually be human and what it means? Where is the actual progress, that we are maybe not focused on? But we focus on something that is clearly visible.
Yeah we got there, we got there at some point. I mean, but that is of course what it is all about. I mean, this is the thing: we can imagine anything.
But the thing is now, we can do anything. That is the, that is maybe…
We are getting so close to being able to do all those things.
Yeah. So then I think we have to deal with it in a different way. Because before it was fantasy in that sense, but now it is like… 30 years ago literally you could imagine being fluid…Like you with an avatar and be someone else, but what was already said, maybe it becomes real, like in the physical world. I think it is changing the fabric of society in that sense. I think there needs to be a different sensibility towards it.
Yeah. Technology, my god. Bio-tech. I guess for me there’s not really... I don’t see a moral reason why… Why we shouldn’t interfere at least in ourselves. Other species, that is a different discussion for me, because other species are other species. If we are going to get those fish scales, you probably are going to take them from a fish, or the DNA of a fish, but you cannot ask the fish, right? So I think that is a different question. But then you have all those things in crops and everything. We also don’t ask the grains, if we should enhance them or make them better, better resisting to sicknesses or better resisting against droughts. We don’t ask them.
But I think like.. I mean I’m thinking with the idea of humans, but I think what will happen first, is that we first, will get all the animal kingdom and start to change them actually, before we are going to touch humans, because that will actually happen first.
Yeah we are doing it of course. We have already done it; so many different altered species around now.
So that is what you more question or what is actually morally more questionable?
It is a different question, yeah. And that also has something to do with who we think we are. Where are we? Are we going to take care or are we going to takeß What are we going to do? We don’t really seem to have a purpose at the moment, so I think this would be a good question to have. And then of course, what we are going to do with our technology will follow our direction: I think what you can do is: ‘OhI have a gun, what should I do? Let’s shoot something’. But that’s the tool that creates my desire. The tool that creates my possibilities. The tool that creates my direction. I think if I would be before, what do I want to do? I don’t think it would come in to my mind to say:‘OhI want to shoot something’. And so, although still we developed the guns ourselves, so at some point someone must have wanted it,I don’t know. It is interesting to think of‘Wheredoes technology start?’. It starts with the desire. And where the desire comes from is another discussion, because they can also be manipulated. Or let’s say one technology creates desire for the next technology and it has its own logic. But to create a facilitating technology for our exploration of who we are and where we want to go, this would be amazing I would say.
Okay, I’m just going to round up this thing.
Yeah, we need to finish.
Yeah, I’m going to meet next a trans-humanist and then an ethicist and I’m just going to ask you: Is there a question that you would like to ask a trans-humanist?
Again, I would be interested in knowing how they became. How did they come to the point where they started to call themselves trans-humanist? What is the desire that, let’s say, initiated that personal road? In the same, maybe not the same... For someone who is in ethics, I guess we already touched upon a lot of those things, right?
But I think an ethicist probably has a different point view than you have, I can imagine. Or a different set of answers in that sense. Maybe the ground was the same, but then…
Yeah, maybe. I mean, I’d be interested to know... I mean, ethics seems to be a very human field we created, right? So in that way, all the ethics that are out there, are human ethics.
So it would be interesting to know, if there is a trans-human or whatever... If there are other fields of ethics being explored than the human perspective?
So this is more than a human philosophy? How can it be explored?
Yeah, how do you know… So if… How do you know, ethically, if something is right or wrong in the sense, that it is always a human being. Let’s say, that initiates a rule. It is always a way of living together, sort of agreements amongst people, but how do you start to create a new ethical field, where it doesn’t start with this historical burden that we have, in which we are always trying to make good for ourselves? And how do you distinguish between, how do you know that the ethics you are creating are an ethics for life and not for human life? So how do you know how to start? Because even initiating a thought is already a human process when it comes down to this kind of language used in stuff like this. But I don’t know, maybe it’s not her or his field. I don’t know. But that was something that interests me.
So that comes back to the idea of taking care of things, instead of just taking, because when it starts from human thought it comes from taking…
Well no, because taking care is also very human-centred. Because we are the ones who are going to take care, it is more facilitating, it just gives you a very specific role, but it is very anthropocentric still. I am talking about an ethics that is sort of is about life. Life telling itself:‘Theseare the rules according to which we live and people should then also endure(adhere)to those rules’. But we cannot make the rules and then say‘theseare the rules’, that is what we always doing‘theseare the ethics’. Uhm, I don’t know, something like this.
Cool, thank you.
You are welcome! I tried.
Angelique Spaninks: I am Angelique Spaninks and I am directer and curator of MU art space here in Eindhoven, for 14 years already. And I have a background in journalism, in cultural, and art studies.
Bich Tran:As a curator and director of MU gallery space, I see you have one of the fewer cultural insitutions that have exhibition on bioart and biodesign.
A: For 5 years now
B: Exactly, and you’re also a co-initiator of the BADaward. So where do you see the importance and relevance of creating a platform that pushes bio art and design for the public.
A: In my opinion, biotechnology and the fast development of technologies that are bio related, justify or even shout for a cultural platform to deal with that. I think we are very obsessed by the digital for 50, 60, 70 years now, and we think that our society is mainly changing because of the digital but I think there’s an equal track going next to the digital path, and thats the bio technological path. I do believe that when these two meet, which they are already doing, because a lot of what’s in biotechnology is possible is also related to digital developments. I think those two together will change life to a high degree.
B: So you think those two are the main forces that will merge at some point?
A: Yes, I mean, there are a lot of complaints from the digital community that there is not enough intention in the cultural world in museums for the digital. But compared to bio art and design, it’s highly into the scope, where bio art and design is not yet. Although that is also changing. So over the course of 5 years that we started the bio art and design award and exhibition around it. I’ve seen a lot’s changed in that respect. Because also internationally theres now a lot of attention for it. It’s all kind of related to the anthropocene. But, it’s getting there.
B: But like the way you explain the digital and the biological: the biological is more of a newer phenominum no?
A:But, it’s not newer, it’s a different track. So the biology has been a long time of scientific interest. But I don’t think the general audience knows what kind of developments are being made within the biotechnologcial area field, that will strongly change their life and their lifestyle and the way they regard their body or what is possible to do or to change in living material.
B: But thats what I mean, that is a bit newer no?
A: Yeah yeah yeah, but maybe not so much in scientific areas. But for general audience or in a cultural field it’s not so common.
B: So it’s more like the cultural field hasn’t put the spotlight on it.
A: But also not media because it’s quite difficult to convey what is happening and to illustrate. That’s where I also think a lot of bio art and design is being used to illustrate the scientific breakthroughs that are made in bio technology or in synthetic biology. Which is the mixture of created, of manufactured living material and natural living material. So it’s all in a mix still, and that makes it very interesting to me, and I see it a lot amongst artists and designers that are highly interested in the subject matter.
B: Ok, and then what are the artists and designers basically at this time, what are the general themes let’s say that they look into. Maybe the last 5 years.
A: Yeah, I can’t say there’s so many general themes. It’s more like its from the tiniest molecule level, through cell structures, through material research, to researching climate change, and the anthropocene. And finding ways to discuss it, or to show it, or to reflect on it, and on the processes that are involved. It’s like a super wide expertise of interest and research that is at stake.
B: Because I was doing a bit of research, and then I was looking through the names of the past exhibitions and was it like: reshape lifetime fluid matter and body of matter. Then I wrote out, the reoccurring, occurring repeatedly was like body, life, and matter in the names of the themes.
A: Yeah, but that’s exhibition tittles. They have to cover a wide area. So if you say matter of life it can be the tiniest life forms or the first life forms to dinosaurs to the biggest trees to marine life. It can be anything. So we usually try to find tittles that cover a lot and that give the opportunity to focus on different aspects of subject matter.
B: So it’s a bit like broad, but it’s also a bit abstract so theres many different levels can fit into
B: Ok. what I have been reading, it’s often said now a days that the 21st century is the age of biotechnology because in the 20th we have the internet or digital and then bio. Like more engineering, like circuits and computers and now it kind of goes into the age of biotechnology. What would you respond to that?
A: Well I think we cannot divide life into neat ages(?)10:33 like we want to. What I just said it is like I think that the combination of biotechnology and the digital is what is making the strongest changes. So it’s not that this age will be all about biotechnology because a lot of biotechnology or synthetic biology cannot do without digital. And we need digital knowledge, or the idea of what you say programming a cell or living tissue, is an idea that is connected to the digital. We’ve learned to program through the digital and now we are adapting the knowledge of that field of thinking and that practice to the digital and that makes us understand parts of it. So how we approach our brain for instance is also like a neurological circuit board. It’s also connected, and it helps us understand. So I think that in the past a lot of material research was biomimicried. Like, we tend to look at nature and find ideas in there or find examples of things that we can translate to new materials or to practices we want to develop. But the other way around is also happening of course, that we have or self created / constructed materials that we can now shape, or think of and see back in biological or neurological or our bodies or in nature as a whole.
B: I will come back to that later with some of the samples. They talk about both themes like biomimicry and also bring back from the cultural(?12:32)to the biological theme. You really see the… I understand what you mean like with the bio bricks for example. Like this is the idea of like the engineering or the digital thinking of like coding. Like life is code. And that’s like why like so we build kind of the digital and the on top of it this mental framework comes into the biological like way of thinking about biology or life maybe.
A: Maybe also, yeah. It’s a metaphor, it’s a way of thinking, it’s a way of enhancing our understanding of everything in a way. It’s a mental construct. And It does work, so we test it in the digital that it works. We also need to look further and to understand ourselves too or to understand nature and then we use the same models and structures and ideas and reflect it on that or put it on that and then it helps us understand also parts of it. If it’s the whole understanding I’m not sure. I don’t think so. But it will bring things closer. It’s a dialogue I think. Always. Everything is a dialogue between different fields of thinking and different ways of being.
B: And the biological and the digital, you say when they merge they will change a lot like maybe how we know…. And what kind of areas, where to do you these massive changeslet’s say because for me it’s very: like if you say like this I find it very oh ok maybe this but I don’t really, I can’t really grasp it. Could you maybe like…
A:For instance like the whole thinking of DNA as the basis of our being and genetic structures. We can analyse them or through or mainly through digital technology that we have. It’s a different way of coding or storing information.It stores information about us that we haven’t analysed fully yet but we do already know that the 4 letters of genetic code give options of storing digital information in a much faster way. So that’s where these two already meet so in DNA you can store a lot of information that will never be possible within the digital structure that has only 2 digits. So the 0 and the 1. And DNA has 4, or genetics. That’s already where something these two are merging with, where you think like ooooh that’s new possibilities. That’s even like simple, relatively simple construct. But I think there’s so much more to be developed in that area. I don’t even know what else it can be, but the whole thinking about DNA: How to use it, how to analyse it and how diverse it can be and what it can convey as information about a person is massive. So that’s an interesting topic already. And it will change a lot
B: But do you think it’s difficult for us now to access what will change? Is it still to early or do you think there are areas where you think: oh this will be…
A: I’m not sure, I mean I’m not the scientific expert in this field. I look at it in a more cultural way. But the idea of how DNA is used normally in between people or in court is almost as if it’s exactly your DNA is not my DNA so if they find DNA as a marker somewhere they would know it’s yours and not mine. But it’s not that simple. Because since we’re talking here for half an hour and we sit in the same space you get trails of me within your biological system so probably if you look hard enough would find minimal trails of me in you. Even when we are days apart. So in that sense if you look deep enough and far enough, I’m not sure if it’s all DNA based but we all share a lot of…
B: It will reflect back on my DNA that I was sitting here with you.
A: Yes, it will be traceable within your biological system where you’ve been.
B: Wow, ok that’s quite intense. I would maybe move to the skin part because time wise. For me the focus is very much on skin let’s say because I think it’s a medium that is very understandable in that sense. Also can be influenced by this technology. The skin is kind of the layer that is between the inside and the outside and that’s how we experience the world. If we change the functionality, or looks or how we actually feel and what we can feel maybe the parameters of feeling. What do you think starts to happen when we start to change, also this digital term, what if we start to change that interface?
A: Well I don’t think the skin only feels because we usually use like the 5 or 6 senses that are most commonly known but we have about 12 and some say even 15 I think. So the skin does more than just feel.The tracing of warmth and cold also is a different sense that feeling objects or something. You have proprioception(?)19:28), which is the awareness of yourself of your body. You feel the back of your food. Or you know where it is. So that’s also a different sense. And I think skin is, I mean we cloth ourselves nowadays because the skin is sensitive and we think it’s neater but perhapsif you can start programming cells on your skin, the cells of your skin, you no longer need all these clothes.That couldbe a huge side step to waste for instance. That we wouldn’t need all those clothes anymore. you could maybe program your genitals away because that’s also something we want you cover with clothes but why not. Maybe change something in that sense. Or your hair, let it grow where ever you need it or whenever you need it. Let it grow in winter and fall out when summer comes or something like that. If those things are possible, I wouldn’t know how much that would change but I think it would change a lot. But maybe that’s not exactly where you want to go, it’s like the huge step. But being able to program your skin to not have acne for instance. That would cure a lot of trouble for a lot of people
B: Hahah, true, true. No, I think I want to be a bit more imaginative in a sense so people get a bit of this feeling this is a bit too far, and maybe you can go back slowly to the more practical solution based things……(continuefrom end of 21:40)
B:I did want to be more imaginative in a sense, so people kind of get the feeling that it is a bit too far and then maybe and then you can go back to the more practical solution face. For example, I am looking for a skin that is more adaptable to the environment. Let’s say with global warming we go back to living more to the sea, in the water XXXXXX. Related to getting skin that is better adaptable for the environment. So this is related…
So this could be also… if you think of certain sports, you would also not want to have a fishskin but to have a skin that is so so smooth that it would go through water faster. They want to do that now with bathing suits, but if you could do that with the skin itself that would also change.
That is a bit the idea that it is more a physical thing to explain this idea but your skin would be more adaptible to that. This idea for me is more of a biomimicry. Like you said, you look at nature, what it does and then you recrate it in a sense for our needs. The other thing is a kind of culture or a human way of thinking back to nature, like somehting that is different we could say and maybe a bit more related to those two samples. Because I always feel like humans have a need for order in that sense, we have that idea of cartesian…
That’s digital thinking by the way. The digital also has this straight idea of black and white, zeros and ones, that sort of thing. Maybe it’s a human trail/trait but maybe it’s connected to digital thinking and ordering and structuring, while we often think of nature as chaos, as not ordered in that way. I do think nature is ordered though, in a different way than we tend to understand…. But that’s interesting to look at it in that way.
For example this is the idea of, our skin is normally like a bit like patchy, not just one color but, not all like very smooth. If we could design it, why not design things that almost look like the surface of a building or something - something that is very rigged in that sense.
But is this then a skin that you design, or will it be based on cells, or will it grow and die after seven years …
B: ja … or less, and then grow back?
Exactly, it’s the idea of epigenetics, so how genes express themselves and if you would program(thatis more of a speculative scenario f course). But if we know so much about biology that you can grow, you know all the parameters, I want exactly …. shine on it with this light, and that light, kind of a UV light, but then more specific, tells it like to build up in that structure, then you can have exactly this skin on you.
Do you also consider the culture and identity aspects of it? So humans have always been obsessed with the color of their skin. That is a very precarious ground to move on and it also has a lot to do with powerstructures and with history and with where people come from and what circumstances are they living in, because your skin reflects a lot of the context that you move in. I would take that also in consideration before doing this. How to think about those things or take them in or rule them out, but then by not thinking about them but by giving a good arguement why you are not considering them. Because why did you do them in purplish color?
First I had like some skin color… I mean they are kind of skin tone, but then I thought if you are a designer, who in the future will be able to design skin, why would I design it in skin color? Maybe I want to step aside from it, maybe we can elimate race in that sense, because if I can change my color every month(let’ssay), that concept of race and hierarchy…
Or that I could become more Chinese when I go to China and more European when I go to Sweden and more African when I go to Africa. Even though I don’t know exactly what that means. That could also be something, but then you would change identities all the time. Of course that would be a big change.But it’s good that if that is the speculation you make to be careful with that and to really think it through if that is a suggestion you want to make because otherwise you touch on so many aspects of it - it is not only about the skin as the outside…
ya, I’m aware…
I’m sure you are. It’s important to take that into consideration. It’s the same is that people really do not like blue food - because your food is sold to never be blue / your food is sold to you never in blue …. We have these ideas of how things should look like when we touch them, when they become us, or we eat them - that they have to be… they have to match, and I think it is like some sort of thing in your brain that helps you understand these things. I do think it’s programmable or changeable.
Maybe cultural also?!
Cultural also, but not only cultural. Of course that is also a very important aspect of it. And that makes it so difficult to really do these things and step into it and speculate freely about the possibilities because it has so many very complex layers in it, especially skin.
That is also why I am interested in it, in that sense. My idea behind it is, that I do not want to point these things out specifically , but they… I have been reading about race, I have been reading about the problems of it and that kind of flows into the designs, the ideas that I am bringing out, but I want to keep it a bit more abstract in that sense so that the moment you look at purple skin, you say ‘ yeah, but why is it purple?Skin is not purple’ . For me it is more like a gateway to then talk about it. Not to be too specific about it, that is for me the goal, I want to keep it still poetical and beautiful in that way. Just as a an explanation.
And what you were saying before with the idea that we have so many senses in that way. This is also based on that idea that we are maybe cartesian(XX29.31XXX)or make‘cactesian’skin, but also the idea could be that those can become different patches of sensors, maybe that is also a digital idea.(A:Hmhm, very!)
Maybe we can incoorperate new sensors…
But what can be… if you would only take this, this reminds me of goosebumps. But it’s not goosebumps. Goosebumps are a reflection of what you sense and it can be tickling or it can be cold or something like that, but you want to program it in a different way.
It could be interesting to have the actualphysical goosebumps connected to this and then see what the similarities are, but also what the differences could be.
Because that is something that … or that would be concentrated on something that we really know, what we all have at a certain point and something new that would be possibly different and used differently.
So like emerging?/merging? Existing and a new ideas, instead of…
Not making it too difficult to make this huge step and become like a building, but to think of this as that everything … This also reminds me of blind reading, how do you say that? Can’t think of the word… but you have to feel it with your fingertips to be able to read as a blind person so that could also be something that you could make, that you could program maybe. That sort of thing would be closer to actual(andmaybe it’s more diffcult) but and less speculative, less spectacular maybe also, but it could open up things that might help develop something really new, or a new sense or something, or a new skin that could sense something that we do not already have.
That is kind of what I am looking for, this idea of … it was very inspired by this person who was colorblind and then got this implant…(A:Jajajaja) And then I was talking with this philosophy student and she was saying that actually our brain is so elastic that after a while, although it is something we are not biological programed to do use it, it becomes part of us, not an extra device but then your brain really understands it. This technology can become much wider in that sense.
I think I am just gonna have some round up things.(timewise)
What we have been talking about now, with the idea of digital , biotechnology and skin - that was some of the questions that I was really curious to ask you.
Is there from your point of view, is there an aspect in general about this theme of skin that you would like to consider, or that I didn’t consider at all yet?
Well, there is so many other topics that can be talked about or can be related to this.
There is not really one topic…
I was at the workshop last week, where an artist was making female sperm and she is developing it with a scientist, who has gotten a huge grande/grante to develop it, and they are both very interested , the artist from an artist perspective and also cultural perspective and the male dominance, white western male dominance in the art world - and the scientist is more into how gender comes about. So they are both from a very different perspective, have come together and want to develop this female sperm. But also to find out how in cells gender is, how it starts, why one cell develops into a woman and the other into a man.
But also how to program that, to be able to program that, so that is also something that if you go on a cell basis, you could also look at this very fundamental things. And in my opinion, having looking at skin itself, it’s a material - it’s not a program in itself maybe. So you could also look at the cell level a little lower, where things start off, and you can relate it maybe to expressions we have about skin, like to‘havethick skin’ or a porcelain skin, so you could also think about these things, what does it mean to have a porcelain skin but then in a real biological sense of the word, and then I also don’t mean color but maybe the fragility of it, or the dryness of it, these kinds of things.
B: But now I have to ask this question, because I did not put it in but, I really would like your opinion.
A: because the artist is changing the cultural ideas about gender, or questioning them, or truing to change them with he help of science. And science is having this gender question also, but also on a technological level in how to understand how this. The very fundamental level happens within every living cell. It doesn’t only for humans. I think. It’s also for the whole of nature, and I think it’s important to have these questions. The cultural idea is more of a mental construct, and a social construct. And the scientific one is more biological and technological construct. When all these realms come together and you find the right click and you understand each other form these different fields then something special can happen and can develop. Which I think is very interesting. So in that sense, there’s a lot to be discovered still. And I think artists can help trigger these questions in other areas, be it scientific or maybe technological in more hardware sense, more engineering sense.So that could also be it. And what I would do, if you really want to research skin I would dive into skin diseases. Because I think skin diseases, there are so many. And not to cure them, because you’re not a doctor, but to think of them int heir potential to be the starting point for a new way of looking at them or to see the strong points. And to maybe program the cells that we now consider to be sick, to be something else than sick. Maybe useful. Because I think that is also enhancing. Instead of becoming a fish, you could enhance the idea of sick sells to become something different.
B: No, I think that is very interesting thoughts because it related also what you said before like something that we have or understand but also give it a new point of view.
A: Yup, and you skip a little bit the whole race issue and the superficial skin idea. People feudally find it a bit of an appalling feel to it. Theres these skin diseases of people who’s skin almost breaks with everything they do. And when I look at a picture of that then I can almost feel it. So it’s very close to what you can feel or imagine it to be. Or to have the idea that you would always have goosebumps. That would be terrible! Or to be constantly sweating. All these kinds of things that are usually very normally controlled could be very different. That all has to do with skin and how you’re skin works and if you could control these things or look at them in a different way, it could be very interesting.
B: I will also interview a bioethicist. A transhumanist .. Separately I would maybe also what you like to a bioethicistif one would be sitting here. Is there a question that you would be really interested to ask.
A: Well I would be very interested what a bioethicist would say about programming a cell. Wether a skin cell or any cell. Because that’s such a fundamental level and if you program it one way, do you for everything in the right way because the complexity of a cell is so huge. That’s what they haven’t found out yet, with this crispr technology, how to deal with that. Because you can change easily some part of it. Cut it and put something else in between and voila! It works, on that aspect. But what does it do on all the other ones? And how to find that out? I think that’s very important.It sounds like good idea to be able to program a skin cell but its super highly complex matter.Which I think a bioethicist will also go like this:
B: That’s a very good question. I will ask her that. IS there something that you would like… that’s.. bioethecists is asking like: ok should be do it like, what are the grounds of doing it? But then transhumanists are more like: we want it. I think it’s all related to desire in a sense. Is there something you would like to a transhumanist.
A: Yeah, well. I’m not such a big fan of transhumanism. Because I think it steps over the complexity of things in a too easy way. I think its a very one dimensional way of thinking ahead. Wanting to take the huge steps instead of the smaller ones and really understand. And that’s what i don’t think is very good to do. It will leave a lot of rubbish or fallout or, it leaves a lot behind. So I’m not so much into transhumanism. Might go for the post humanism, where it’s where we don’t put ourselves so central anymore but we start thinking about who we are in connection to everything around us.And become part of the food chain again, and put ourselves in it to. Maybe understand how matter in essence works, whether its a glass bowl or our body, or a plant, or an animal. So that’s more interesting to me the transhuman that wants to go ahead and rule life and live forever.
B: Hm I think that’s interesting. I never connected the what you’re saying about the more than human and posthuman. This way of thinking and I never connected those two in that sense. It’s really interesting. And last question for you
A: What do you think about transhumanism.
B: In a way I feel like my project somehow.. I never really dealt with it because I always thought like it’s a bit of a weird idea, let’s say. But then at some point in my process I had to see that my project is somehow very related to that
A:Its the makability of everything.So also of life and living matter. I don’t like creationist that think God has done everything. ButI think transhumism is the opposite side of the medal that is also creations in a way but towards technology and human smartness and human possibilities only for the few, the happy few that can do that.It’s a bit of a power thing. Both are not what I hope life is about.
B: It feels also maybe a bit like a perversion, in a certain way right?
B: So I didn’t really thought about it too much actually but then I had to look into it a bit. Also I went to this talk of this transhumanist and somehow I thought it was vey intriguing. You also go away with this certain uneasiness of feeling and also fear in a way because there is something about their attitude and how they are. It’s just a bit scary in a way. So now I understand what you mean because it doesn’t have this inclusiveness. It’s very like, I want this and I don’t
A:It’s very individualistic, and very on the creation of their own as the new, maybe its a new God.Like the Harari books, I’m not sure if you read that: Homo deus.
B: Ah I didn’t do it. I connect my idea a bit more to the the idea of the Greek mythology of Promethius. Who gave us fire and then that’s how we say live. I feel like we are somewhere at the edge of becoming Promethius in that way.
B: It’s called Harara?
B: Ah the writer
A: the writer, ya. And his book Homo Deus is more like on the future of things. And then did you see the film with the Donna Haraway
A: Because that’s also someone who thinks more about the complexities and staying with the trouble and that’s to me someone who opens up a lot of thinking in a different way. And the relationship between the human and the nonhuman is to me is very important.
B: I find that very hard to get into this
A: yeah yeah yeah, it’s very philosophical and literary also, so that makes it difficult. But complexity is difficult.
B: I think it’s also good. But also a the same time I have to kind of be kind of be against on the other side which is like our design school. Which kind of wants you at the end to have a clear project in that sense. I love to stay with with complexity but theres a point where I have to pull out and say.. I show this this and this… and then from there go back to the complexity.
A: Yeah yeah yeah, keep the complexity open. If you reduce it to simple things you would not pass, at when I was a teacher
B: Well I think that’s it. Maybe you don’t like answer me(?)the last question:
would you do with this? What would you do with this technology for yourself?
A: For myself? Ooo, I wouldn’t know. No I wouldn’t really know.
A:I would have to think about it because I don’t know if I would like to program, be able to think about each cell of my body and how to deal with that. I think that would be a huge responsibility, to think about.
B: That’s a nice answer. Well the person i talked to before, a cultural geographer. He was saying he would like to get more hair. Because he was looking a bit of hair. We also said about being furry, that was also very interesting. Because it’s connected to human and non-human.
A: Yeah yeah yeah for sure for sure.
B: Thank you very much for the interview
A: You’re very welcome
B: I hope for you it was also interesting.
A: Yes yes , it’s always interesting to talk. I’m not sure if I said to you what you need. I hope it has done what it has needed to do.
LOTTE VAN NOORT
Lotte van Noort: My name is Lotte van Noort. I am a Transhumanist, I am also an Information Science student and I am an entrepreneur.
B: Could you explain what a Transhumanist is and also like what subsequently what the goals are of transhumanism.
L: Transhumanism is trying to surpass the human nature through technology. That’s what it is in one sentence. However, the indications of this are a little bit more broad. For me, my personal interest lies most in longevity. Trying to make us or actually not even longevity but health span extension. Trying to live as long as we can in ashealthy body as possible, but also using technology not only to increase health span but also to increase what we are capable of, like implants to make you smarter, to make you faster. You know, you can even think Blade Runner-type, just any sort of technology that you can use on your body that can enhance your performance. Thats roughly what transhumanism means, and what transhumansim’s goal is. And with that we do not want togo backwards, so you know it’s not like we aim for a world where everybody is made of robotics and then they just rust, you know, and nobody is able to remember anymore what is like to breathein fresh air as an example. You want tokeep all the thing we already have and just enhance it, really, so..
B: Because what I was interested bywhat you said, the 3 elements, super longevity, super intelligent and also super well being and you are interested in longevity and well being.
B: Do you see a differentiation between transhumanism and the concept of post human?
L: Yes, because I guess traditionally speaking the difference lies in that with transhumanism you are still partitially human and partially in transition of becoming post human, I would say, so I would say if you reallly think in old fashioned concepts of this, then you’re looking at cyborgs, you know getting eye implants for example that make you see infrared; of course a lot of this is becoming much more advanced and elegant. you can have people with a chip in their hands to get in and out of the stations; you can’t actually see that they are cyborgs(because,you know, they are theoretically speaking cyborgs) so they are not over-the-top sci-fi movie partially robotics and partially human looking.
Post-human stage is when we are not having any part of our physical humanity left. doesn’t mean that we’re not mentally still human, or still have human features, so we don’t just become full robots. but we have transitioned fully from the physical beings that we are now, with our mortality, with our regular intelligence, with our regular lifespan- and transitioning into something that is a lot more than that.
B: That’s poshumanism.
L: That’s posthumanism, yes
B: What I am understanding is that transhumanism is more getting better, and posthumanism is more like a multi-species world, like we are not on top of the food chain but we are a part of the food chain. Like they are[unintelligible]each other, like philosophically.
L: Yeah, and i think there is often a misunderstanding, like when a lot of people say transhumanism they think you’re talking about posthumanism, and when you say posthumanism, they thin you’re talking about transhumanism, so it’s a bit intertwined i guess.
I do think indeed that with posthumanism it’s kind of its own thing, you can sort of call it its own species; its just not a part of the animal kingdom anymore.
B: It’s not part of the animal kingdom..
L No, not really. You can’t really call it a species anymore because you try to get rid of the biological functions as much as possible, and try to use,well not really necessarily the mechanical functions, but i guess the mechanical functions[laughs].With the post-human, you really want to have everything fully engineered to be the best possible solution. And that can be with biological functions, but with biological functions that you have full power over, whereas with transhumanism you’re talking about a body that is partially fully-engineered, and partially still related to the regular biology.
B: The idea of this stronger, living-longer, being better, in a way that’s kind of a very capitalist idea. Do you see any troublesome path in that way, on a planet where we’re already so dominant, where it we’ve already caused a lot of suffering by trying to be smarter, better, faster, stronger, to dominate the planet even more, if that makes sense?
L: Probably, but not necessarily. If you’re talking about what either side - I guess transhumanist or posthumanist, then you’re also talking about using your resources in the most optimal way, and where you can choose what resources you need, whereas now, we’re very stuck still to needing food every day, we need oxygen; there are a lot of resources that we’re stuck to. If you are full post-human, it will be a lot easier to use different types of resources. And I think as well that- Or at least one of my personal stances is that transhumanism, if you’re talking about longevity, the longer people live and the longer people can live healthily, the less of a burden they will be.
First of all, one of the heaviest burdens to the environment is new children and elderly people. Elderly people have very little productivity, but they are still stuck to needing new resources, and children become a new person, so…. But with longevity, if you have people who will be around for a lot longer time, they will think more about what it is that they need, and what sort of effect that this will have on the environment. Because right now, most people live to be around 70-80, and a lot of the problems that we have right now with the environment won’t really become a problem in the next 50-100 years. So a lot of people who are in the generation before us, let’s say my parents, for example, a lot of those won’t really have to do anything with the biggest effects of climate change or just environmental disaster. So it’s not really in their interest to really think about it. It’s mostly in their interest to think about, well, what do I leave my offspring or what do I leave the next generation with? But if you live longer, say for like 200 or 300 years, then it really becomes your own problem and it really becomes a part of your own future.
B:[unintelligible]I interviewed a bio-artist, and he said that the problem he sees with technology is that we are moving forward, forward, forward and innovating but we don’t understand what’s at the core of ourselves. He’s saying we don’t need to live longer to understand the world better, we should be more focused with the time that we have.
L: Yeah, but we can’t stop time.[laughs]I personally think that time is the most valuable thing that we have, and therefore we need more of it. Even if you focus on yourself as much as you can, then you’re still limited to this 80-year lifespan, and I don’t believe that there’s anything else, and if there’s even a possibility don’t want to gamble my life on it. If we can stretch what we have as much as we can, and especially when you focus on yourself then you have more time. Like, if you want to make all the time last, then it doesn’t really have to change if you live 80 years or if you live 300 years.
B: So this artist is arguing that if it’s a short time you’re actually more willing to use that time. If you don’t have the incentive, you could also waste 300 years.
L: Well, there are still a lot of people wasting 80 years already. And I don’t think that’s gonna change that much. I also don’t think that there are a lot of people thinking every day of, in my example, the 60 years that they have left. Or, you know, my parents about the 40 years that they have left. Maybe when you get closer, like when you’re 70 you will think more about it. But i don’t think that there are many people who think about how long they have left every single day. I think it’s almost impossible to do that without getting depressed. You know, most people who think about dying every day are those who are either very sick, suicidal, or very depressed. So I think think that you should have to think about the short life that you have left. In fact, I think that a lot of people would choose to have multiple lifetimes. You know in your thirties, having been to college and having established themselves in life, and discovering that that’s not the life that they want. Then it’s very hard to switch over to another thing, because you only have 50 years let, and you need to make something of yourself by the age of like, 30, 35. And if you fuck that part up, then it’s very hard to transition. It’s very easy to say that for people who’ve been incarcerated: it’s very hard for them to change their lives. It’s easy for them to spiral, going back[toprison] because they can’t see themselves having a better future. And I think if you at least have the time to live multiple lifetimes, that will give you a lot more freedom it will give you time to fuck up a lot more and actually learn from your mistakes and give you time to actually change that.
B: I am wondering if that is like true, or if you would spiral even further down that road, in a sense.
L: I personally don’t think so, and i think that mainly because if you’re, say, 50 and you make a very big mistake, then you still have the time to figure it out. There’s a lot of people now who have had serious problems in their youth, and only started to truly live through them or figure it out at the age of 35, and I think if you have those problems at 35 it’s a lot harder. If it takes 20 years to figure it out, then you’re already 55. And like, what are you gonna do when you’re 55- then you’re 10-12 years away from retirement. Then it almost feel like there’s not much use anymore. And i also think that it’s very hard right now to take a couple of years for yourself, because there’s not that much time left.
Everybody is in that much of a hurry, you know. You need to finish high school, you need to finish college, then you need to maybe do a master’s degree or something, then you need to get a job, you need to establish yourself in society, you maybe need to create a family, and then by the time that you’ve established yourself in life, then you’re forty[unintelligible] years old, and then if you then want tot take a break, it’s way too hard because you’ve got all this responsibility that you’ve set up for yourself.
What I think is a much better way of live, if we have more time, say you have this cycle and at the age of forty you might’ve saved some money, you might say, I’ll go and travel for the next ten years, or I wanna go back to college and do something different, and you’ll kind of go through that cycle again, but with a lot more peace and quiet, and you could practice that until you’re 80 and way, well, let’s repeat this cycle. But I think it’s going to be a lot easier- I’m usually talking about a span of 200-300 years, about two and a half to four times as much as we have right now. I think that’s the most relatable. I think beyond that, it’s very hard to think about the possible ways in which we can live. But i think it will be easier to have these cycles and be much more rested in your life or take a step back, because you have more time to make something of yourself, and more time to find something that you like.
For me personally, I’m doing information sciences now and I really love working with IT, but I also really like biology, I also really have an affinity for physics, I also really like creative things, but I do know that if I want to do something with my life, I have to pick basically just one. I might want to take a minor in biology, so I can do some bioinformatics[?} for example, however I would still be very much stuck with that. And if I’m like 40 and I want to change, then it would be very hard because even if I did, there won’t be many people who hire me because I’m like 50 years old with a new degree from, I don’t know, biology school. And I couldn’t really practice in that field. I think if you have a lot more time, it will be easier. It’s not just about having more time, it’s also about being younger for longer. You would be feeling like you’re 20 when you’re 80, so you would still have the mental capacity to take in all this information, em , yeah I think it would be a lot easier to focus on yourself in that case, if you have more time.
B: So you would mature as a society or as a species because you have more time to actually reflect as opposed to run[unintelligible]die, and then the next generation comes along.
L: yeah. You have a lot more time to get lost, to fuck up, to figure out what it is that you really like.
B: But when do you see, like,[unintelligible]who then has access to these kinds of technologies, because it could become that the richest get really old and get even more power than they have now- they have the technology. And the poor, they just like die.
L: Well, initially it would just be the richest first, like it is with any technology or biomedical technology. There’s no way around that.However, I do think that it just takes, you know, when you’re rich and you do get this treatment, it’s like you have to do it or that you have to spend thousands, or millions, every single time. And the technology itself will become cheaper eventually, like every technology does. So over time, i think it will become easier for poorer people to[unintelligible].In a way I think society will become a much more equal place. Right now, you have a lot of people you see maybe a couple times and you meet them 20 years later, and they don’t really say anything to you anymore, or it’s hard for you to remind yourself about them. If you live a lot longer, it’s easier to connect with a lot more people, and it’s much easier to reconnect in 20, 40, 80 years or whatever. And I think you will feel much more social responsibility.
L: yeah, fair. And right now it’s very easy to say, I’m going to be super rich. If you are super rich, you only have a limited amount of time to use your money, and I think if you live longer, people will feel much more social responsibility, because you see a lot more people on a regular basis. I just have the kind of personal feeling that that will happen.
B: I think you are very positive about it. When you say, like negative sides of how, with the history of human, like how we work, I feel like there would be a lot of people would be gathered or would not be social, hide in their ivory tower, and then live long, but not, create their own society in this sense, but the rest is like, yeah lives in the dirt.
L: Yeah, but there is always good people around. And it only takes a few people to bring something to the rest of the world and its in a lot of people’s interest and it’s not just that these technologies will make you instantly live longer or instantly will make you 300, no there will first be, like there is therapies that my friend is working on, like there will first be used to increase medication for cancer therapies or you know getting healed from cancer and they will be to increase the efficiency of treatments on Alzheimers and Diabetes. You know, those things, everybody wants to get better treatments for diabetes and cancer and this kind of things. A lot of people working on those and it’s not just if you want to live 300 years, or longer, it’s not just one shot that you get that will be possible in 20 years, no first of all it will be getting rid of all these diseases that are part of the ageing disease spectrum. And when you get rid of all those you will see that society will live an even longer amount of time. Just as it’s now, that the average amount of life span has changed a lot, we’ve created antibiotics, and antibiotics are now also available for almost everybody. They actually became available for a broad amount of people very quickly after they were discovered, even though they were quite expensive to make.And I think mostly that the whole image of things being very poorly available come from places like the United States, where Insulin can cost a lot of money, but also the government is doing something about that now, too. Colorado now for example has become the first state to put a price cap on an Insulin Vile.
B: Finally they understand that the free market is not the solution.(3:25- hope I understand this right)
L: Yeah, even there, there is a lot of people that go across the border to get their Insulin. So there is a lot of people travelling to Canada, buy a whole lot of Insulin for themselves and come back all for the price of one Insulin Vile in the United States. My partner, he is involved in medical tourism and he send people for treatments to Serbia for example, where the treatments are a lot cheaper. He is doing fertility treatments, that aren’t available even in the United States. But also, it’s a lot cheaper, getting it in other countries, like also, there is a lot of people in the Netherlands who go for dental treatments to Turkey, so I think this image that the medical department has received from treatments being badly available purposefully comes from a specific place, that gets a lot of media attention and it’s very hard to overlook, however there is also all these other places that do great, like you know, the Netherlands have this long cancer therapy that just becomes available in the United States, that existed over here for years. And so there is many treatments that are available in different places that can differ in different places and it just all depends on the people that are from that place and what they decide to do with it. And it only takes one good person, or one good person that gets sponsored to figure out this is a better solution than what we had before.
B: And which place were you talking about, that the media attention is very high?
L: The United states.
B: Ah that where like the free market, capitalism or free market is making it so difficult to …
L: Well, but it’s also not the free market in the United States. That’s a picture that has been framed like that, but it’s actually kind of the opposite of a free market, because the only way that the established these high prices in the US is through patents and lobbyingand if there was a free market, like a truly free market, it could just be that another one, another person would be able to produce new Insulin, and say, hey, I am going to sell this for 10 bucks, but you have all the regulations from the FDA and the patent bar and all those are formulated by the government, so the government is keeping it strictly under control, to make sure, that people’s medication are becoming very hard to get, whereas it would be very easy for the United States, like just like Colorado is doing it, to say like hey, maybe you can have a patent, however if have this patent, you have a certain responsibility and this patent is something that we gave you, so you know, for that we also want something in return. For that we don’t want you to be able to sell this for more than this price.
B: Can we move a little bit to Bio-technology? I’m also thinking, when I look to … there is a lot of talk about AI and robotics.(33:39)
B: Like except for longevity in the news, I don’t see so much Bio technology in there, like where is the role about biotechnology within this…nuscheln
L: Ahm, is there anything specific with biotechnology that you have in mind?
B: I feel like yeah for me, I feel like it’s very based on silico, like implants, that there is the idea of implants and yeh the idea that you get stronger and better, but then there is actually no thought in the biological sense, that you are actually enhancing your brain as a …it’s already a strong computer.
L: Well, there is actually quite a lot in the bio-hacking scene. Ahm there is ahm a sort of branch of medication called nootropics I don’t know if you have heard of them, but nutropics are a couple of different supplements and medications, that people take in order to enhance their mental performance.A lot of them have become popular quite recently in the passed five years for example with brain caps or Sapiens, those are brands that, well you just take them everyday, they are supplements, they enhance your memory for example they enhance your focus and they do this through multiple different substances like estinol canetin or caffeine but also rodhealginseng. Those have medically been proven to enhance certain neurological functions and the more you get into the bio hacking scene the more advanced these things become. For example one of them is called Piracetam, which is medication against hiccups, originally. However people who have taken Piracetam, have highly increased mental capacity and their memory is a lot stronger.
B: You guys wanted to pass?….yeah yeah…(people walking through interview)
L: Also please tell, if I’m not giving the answer, you are looking for.
B: No, but in the end I think its somewhere in between. I ask you of course something I want to know about, but then also I try to stay open, I feel also, yeah that also why I’m doing it, because I don’t know your thoughts yet.
L: But sometimes when I’m talking I can sort of forget what the question was and kind of continue in my own spinsel.
B: What are themes that you feel you have a lot of knowledge about and that you would like to talk about maybe? In the field of …and the field of human enhancement.
L: I think, generally my knowledge is quite broad, because I’m not a biologist, I’m not an engineer, I just work with a lot of people who are, so I pick up a lot from a lot of different branches, so I think questions like these are quite right.
B: So we just gonna continue. Maybe just a very fundamental question then, what does it mean to be human in the age of bio technology?
L: Ahm, it’s an interesting question. I think, for me, what it means to human, is to have the capacities to think and to be conscious of what you’re doing and then if I would take the question further. What it would mean to be transhuman, then having this conscience about living and seeing that there is much more that be done with it. And just taking it a step further and being able to or wanting to enhance whatever it is that you are experiencing and wanting to enhance your experiences.
B: What I want to ask now, so for you it’s a more philosophical question, it’s not so related to technology in itself, but is it just an enabler in itself?
L: Well, it does also mean for me it also means we have a finite life span that in my opinion is too short, that we only have the chance to live one lifetime and that we are only capable of working with what we got when we were born and maybe adding some minor medical treatments to make sure, that we don’t die prematurely, but prematurely in a human sense and not in a transhuman sense.
B: What does that mean?
L: So prematurely with a lifespan, like an average lifespan of 80 not with a lifespan of for example 300 or indefinite.
B: If you could enhance and live longer, would also be interested to change your human nature in a sense that you could more to it?
L: Oh yeah definitely.
B: As a transhuman is there interest in there?
L: Like I said, its about enhancing all parts of the nature of being human or the nature of it. So it’s not just about living longer. Experiencing more, so for example seeing more. Seeing infrared, seeing ultraviolet.Cause otherwise it will get boring. It is about, I also like to experiment with drugs for example, not because I am an addict or anything, but I find it interesting how you can get into different mental mindsets and that definitely does not mean, that I am a Partyer who takes extacy every single week or anything. No it means that I seek out different types of mental mindsets, kind of like , you know.
But I also meditate for example to discover, you know that part of the spectrum. I wanna be able to have different experiences for example and being able to direct different experiences in different ways, but also throw myself into situation, where I don’t know exactly what I can expect and have those experiences. So having different emotions for example, or having more complex emotions for example, or having different senses or having a skin, that’s not only able to detect hot or cold, but also has different sensations, if the temperature rises above 30 degrees Celsius, that we don’t know of. Those are exactly the types of things that I am interested in.
B: And did you think about, what type of categories would you be interested in? Would you have like different skins in different moments for example? Did you ever get across that…
L: I would definitely be interested in having skins that are more resistant, so like, there is for example species that are able to endure much hotter climates or much colder climates, so I guess definitely those, you know being able to wear Polarbear skin and go to the arctic having scales and being more resistent to water for example and having an improve in swimming for example or having like a reptile skin, so that its easier to walk in like sandier landscapes. But those are definitely also interesting. I definitely want to be able to enhance everything, and not just enhance but also change it at will.
B: Is that still Transhumanism in that way or does it move beyond?
L: I think it’s a little bit in midland, I think that its a little bit of both. I think if you would still have the rest of your human characteristics, or still dying after 80 years or maybe after 95 years or a couple of hundred years but still being modal or still having a human mindset, then it would still be transhumanism, however if you could decide about everything you could do with your physical entity and also decide what you could do with your mental entity, just being able to fully program yourself, then we become post human.
B: The moment it becomes really something completely else, but that is really …it is a very fluid
L: Yeah, yeah it is
B: Because you say for example already now, with the smartphone somebody could say, you’re post human, because you are already changing so much if it would go just a bit further.
L: Yeah, so I do think, that most people right now are I think physically becoming, but not everybody, a lot of people are physically becoming Transhumanism, not necessarily philosophically speaking, but because they have certain things that enhance their physical performance, would it be because they take certain medications that do that or they have implants that do that and especially if they are better, than what we already have, so for example if people have lost their limbs and then get this prostethic, but with the prosthetic they can run faster than an average human then they have physically become transhuman. Because they are in transition, from human to becoming something else.
B: Two of my concepts now that I am developing are translating a skin that is scale like because I like the texture of it but also I like the idea that you can feel a bit maybe like a fish. But then you can also swim and have the aerodynamics of it. And the other one is a more abstract thing, adding more sensors to the human being just you could also maybe feel like the wifi or magnetic field. It is developing that concept that I wanted to give you ….
L:With the infrared for example if you are able to see it or feel it, register it at least then it’s also easier to say for example like oh no I need more sunscreen today. You know or if you feel the humidity, if you can actually register it, it’s like oh I know it’s gonna rain in the next couple hours. It’s gonna be easier to detect those things.I think with the fish scales as well becausethey are much more sturdy that regular skin you’ll be able to feel the motion of the water better, and that you know like maybe when you’re under water, weather it’s becoming a high tide or a low tide.Or with the magnetic field you would be able to say like oh hey there’s strong magnets surrounding me or you know, those type of things. I think that’s very interesting. Or maybe even with magnetic field you can say that you always know where north is.
B: Hmm, yeah to know where you go actually
L: yeah exactly
B: I think like if I head back to the bio(???) 49:00), he would probably respond to that like, ya but we already kind of have this, we already feel humidity if we’re just able to sit there and like feel let’s say and then also like
L: But it’s very hard to quantify it. Like we’re not computers, and if you do that then its probably that you can specialise yourself in one very specific thing. So that might be predicting the weather by feeling the humidity. And by having a better registration of the temperature, but then you really have to sit there and take your time to truly take in like through your senses.But our senses are not good enough to have a very precise thermometer or pressuriser or you know we don’t actually always know and it’s impossible to know these things and be able to quantify them. and I think that’s very interesting about having impacts and having skin that changes. Because I want to be able to know it in a flick of an instant. I wanna be able to think like oh is it gonna rain in the next two hours and not having to grab my phone but just like you know being able to analyse it myself in like a couple seconds. Like ok it’s this humidity so this is gonna be the weather forecast in a couple minutes.
B: Yeah,like where do you see then the difference when technology becomes external like the smartphone where it’s the samekind of technology, I know how the weather will be let’s say because information sends it out that tells me or the moment it changes and becomes internal. Do you think something changes the moment it comes from the outside to the inside?
L: Yes I do. I think it’s kind of like if you’re driving a car and then you don’t really realise that you’re doing all this mechanical stuff to the car, right? If you drive and you need to go right you just think right and the car goes right, of if you think break then you break. And this is because you’ve practiced it a lot. it’s not because.. When you first start driving you still have to think a lot about it and that’s why it’s still difficult in the beginning. But at a certain point you integrate with this machine and this machine becomes part of your body. To me that’s what it’s gonna be like to have all these sensory inputs be in your body and you being able to direct from that. Other than having to do it on a smartphone. Because the smartphone is not that much part of you. It’s really an extension. Or the old samurai’s who’d say like you’re not becoming a samurai until your sword is becoming an extension of yourself. If you don’t have the feeling that you know, the sword is an extension of yourself then you don’t know how to handle it well. And I think that’s gonna be exactly the same with this biotechnology.
B: So it makes it easier to become a part of you
B: And the other one maybe takes much longer but then also like, I don’t know, but it does become a part of you. Then like the sword then does become part of you.
L: Well yes, but those would be extensions of your body. But like for example smartphone or a website you still have to google it. And it’s becoming some part, somewhat a part of us. Like it’s very hard for most people to part with their smartphone or you know for a lot of people you can almost thing like I’m gonna send a text to this person and then you already finding yourself doing it. And this is already becoming part of it but still there’s quite the barrier. And it’s still,you know it’s not instantaneous, its still really new, you have to grab it, you have to open it, you have to do all these things to it. And it still feels like it’s like an extra thing just like reading a book is the same. And I think like once it becomes like a mental part of you then you can.. Well kind of like Neil Gibson, he has this thing on his head. he’s colourblind, and he has this thing which makes him hear colours. and in the first couple weeks or months, he had to really learn how to use it because it sees colours, and it translates into specific sound. And after a while he started to be able to register all the colours. And while he was making sort of more of a mental picture of this, and becoming better practice with this, he also started to dream in colours. like he first started to just you know be able to instantly say like ok this is yellow, this is brown, this is somewhere in between. And then he also started to dream with these sounds, but also being able to register them immediately as colours. And I think that sort of mental picture of this, that you, that is become so much apart of you that you actually start dreaming about it. Or it’s kind of the same with like languages, if you’ve spoken a language long enough, even though it might not be your mother tongue, then you can also dream about it or you know you can just think about it, you can just think in that language. And it has sort of the same mental capacity as your mother tongue.I think that is the part where it integrates so much with you, that it’s becoming part of who you are. and what your experiences are. and if you have different sensory input then it really becomes part of you because it’s part of what you experience. And then from your experiences, you can quantify what it is that you are experiencing.whereas with you phone, it’s still you know, something else that is experiencing it, and you just read the data
B: Ok. it’s really about feeling.
B: ya because I think it was interesting because I was talking with someone about Gibson. And then with a philosophy student, who was also really interested in bio art in Amsterdam and she was saying the interesting part was that
L: Harbisson sorry, it’s Neil Harbisson
B: The interesting part is that it became so, the brain, his brain didn’t have the capacity to, to, to how to say, um, to get, to understand the data because there was never like understood colour, also like this is a different signal that how our eyes are like understanding color. But, at the same time, after a while our brain is so elastic that is becomes like… I also _(55:50)____ the work from yesterday was about that. You can basically throw any data at your brain and it just becomes, it just internalises. Like it just makes sense patterns and then it kind of like translated it somehow that you can understand it. And that I though was very interesting. So then you do you think like then what would that do to our _(55:14)__ as humans. Our brains like can be able to, I don’t know, comprehend, quantify, but also… I don’t know like understand this kind of new end data points. what does it do to, for our brain, what it means then to be human in that sense.
L: I think it’s hard to answer that question. I think the only way that we can really answer that is look at what already happened. And I think it’s… to be honest I think the answer would be not all that much. Because, well, we already have this capacity to be very elastic and change according to our environment. And you’re just adding more data points to the environment that you’re in.But at certain points you’ll be adapted enough that it’s just becoming normal for you. So I think in that sense not so apart from the fact that we would be abel to blend in with our environment even more. Or adjust our environments to the way that we want it more. And just being able to perceive it differently. But ultimately, I don’t think it will change.like the human, like how we function from day to day that much.
B: Hm you think it wouldn’t change like the basic composition of the brain and like developing a different way. Because we are already, like it has already this quality to just be able to interpretative data.
L: Yeah exactly. because you can already see from Neil Harbisson that, you know he’s still a regular guy, he just knows because he can see infrared, or hear infrared and ultraviolet that you already see with him that it’s just part of his normal world, you know. he changes to a certain extent because, you know he changes what he wears now based on colours, but because the colours from a court for example so he you know, he regulates the input based on sensory input because thats the way that he is getting this information. Where are we get it you know in a sort of an aesthetic way and based on vision. He is doing it(58:40)on sound. But other than that it’s not changing that much for him.
B: That’s very interesting.
L: And I think that society will adapt to that too so, you know right now we’re already sort of adapting to the fact that we have all this technology in our pockets that can tell us almost any information in the world.And you have like schools adapting to that by handing children iPads and having them do a lot of stuff on their iPad. In order to better __(59:18)__ with this technology. How you’re 20 years ago, nobody had a computer in the classroom. Maybe there was one computer in the entire building. 25 years ago. But, now every classroom has, or almost everybody has their own laptops in the classroom. And you know people that give lectures in university for example, they present their stuff with projectors, and you know they show videos in class and they give you your homework online and nobody really thinks twice about this. This is just the normal world that we live in. And I think that’s, that is what humanity kind of is. It always finds a new sort of point 0. and once it’s been established then that’s just our new normal.
B: Ok but that is our new normal. If you objectively zoom back there will have difference between even 30 years ago. And now, I think like, as humanity that, as humans we already changed in the 30 years. Somehow like, quite a bit.
L: Yes, and no, because I still think that most people if you look back at people in the 60’s, they weren’t that much different. I mean, yes they had different technologies, and I mean social roles were a little different. But other than that they weren’t all that different. I think the biggest difference between then and now is that there is a lot more information available so it’s easier to learn about new stuff. But also like the way that people thought wasn’t necessarily all that different.
B: Hmm, ok, hmm, yeah that’s interesting. I feel like I would see it in a different way actually. Because I feel like maybe like because of that, maybe our neo politics will rapidly change. Maybe new parts will kind of like dock to the brain, or like develop. And then we can have more data that we can.. we have more processing power, if you’re talking in(1:01:18)___terms.
L: Yeah. Well I don’t think that will come from sensory output. I think that that would come really from biohacking your brain in order to have it be able to process more things.But until that becomes possible, I think… So if we are purely talking about sensory input, then it will stay quite the same. But if you’re truly talking about enhancing the performance of the brain then that would become a different thing.
B: So you mean you would have to go directly to changing the actual thing, and not the thing around it.
L: Yes, I think so yeah.
B: Ok I’m just gonna maybe close it up a little bit. But then so what we have been talking about now so far, is there a part that you feel that needs like, that we haven’t discussed that is important in this kind of conversations, that needs to be added?
L: Umm I don’t think so. Well, the biggest think I think is that it’s always very hard like it’s always only a speculation of course. Like the only think that we have is moments of the past that we can kind of relate to and see how it’s changed over the years. But, I think the only way that we can truly know what’s going to happen is by just experiencing it. And I think that is also part of the excitement of it; is you know being able to work on something new and not really knowing the outcome in detail. You know and that’s part of being a science optimist, or a science positivist, or a techno positivist. Is you know that I already think that technology is brought us so many wonderful things.That I can only see.. Or I can not just only see. But I think that it’s just gonna bring us a lot more cool things in the future.And that also makes it so that it’s pretty hard to say this is what’s going to happen. And I think no body can really give you an answer to this is what’s going to happen or this is how it’s going to change us, because it’s not here yet. And, yeah, I think anybody who claims that they can, is lying.
B: Ok, yeah so you mean like, the future just has to be invented by doing it in that sense.
L: Yeah exactly. And I mean, there’s always going to be good people, there’s always gonna be bad people. But overall in the past 100 years, to the past 200 years, theres still like a moving line of more equality coming into the world. I mean there might be more billionaire that ever. But there’s also less poverty in the world than ever. And there’s always just you know,there’s always going to be people who fight for the best things, and people who fight for the worst things. Also that is also part of humanity.
B: But is a totally… you believe that as a technology, it brings more good that it brings bad to human society.
L: Yup. Yes, I do. Yup. And I think in the past it has done that. Every single time. And of course there will always be things invented that aren’t as good but also I think only experimenting more with it, and going further into research, only helps this. So like for example, planes are bad for the environment but it’s not going to help to tax plane tickets more or, and make train tickets cheaper because that’s just going back to the past, because trains are just slower than planes. And people always prefer something that is the easiest route. I mean every organism does. And I think the only reason or the only way that you can truly reduce this is by investing more in the arrow(? 1:05:15) industry. And just think more about how planes can become more environmentally friendly.
B: I think I’m also running out of questions I have. It’s fine yeah, thank you
L: You’re welcome