LASER Talks Brussels – Notions of Transhumanism

The third edition of LASER Talks Brussels has taken place on Tuesday 7 September at 7pm CET at IMAL – Center for Digital Cultures in Brussels with as panelists Mark Coeckelbergh, PETERMFRIESS and Angelo Vermeulen.

LASER Talks Brussels are organised by Alexandra Dementieva and moderated by Edith Doove.

You can find a partial recording here.

According to a recently updated manifesto from Humanity+, Transhumanism can be interpreted as an approach to extend human lifespan and to expand human capabilities and states. The Manifesto continues stating that Transhumanism is the world’s strongest advocacy for a positive future in changing the human condition of disease, poverty and prejudice toward health, well-being, and prosperity.

In contrast to advocacy for improving the human condition, today’s interest in Transhumanism is in the first place not driven by direct necessities, but rather by commercial interests around Big data, AI, neuroscience, and more generally by platform entrepreneurs. Improvement of living conditions, planetary challenges and salvation are promised for the future, based on a strong technology dependence and externalisation of senses and reasoning capabilities. Critics often see Transhumanism as posing threats to human values and dignity by evoking transgenerational modification of human biology, body/brain cloning and genetic engineering. And in our highly competitive social environment, which demands increasingly efficient behaviour, any kind of enhancement is prone to increase inequalities in terms of wealth and social status or treatment. It can also be questioned if Transhumanism is an objective in itself, and how it relates to the idea of supremacy of the Homo Sapiens compared with other live-forms.

On the positive side Transhumanism can be seen as interesting stimuli for reflecting on desirable futures in light of human activity on Earth, which is provoking serious issues for humanity itself, but as well for other species. And what if Transhumanism is not a mere extension of lifespan, but a re-consideration and re-evolution on what constitutes humanity, and even a ‘going-beyond’ the humanity idea? This could be seen as an invitation to reflect in transversal manner between science, art and other disciplines on new and experienceable scenarios, linked to non-human based creativity for the future of us.

The Leonardo/ISAST LASERs are a program of international gatherings that bring artists, scientists, humanists and technologists together for informal presentations, performances and conversations with the wider public. The mission of the LASERs is to encourage contribution to the cultural environment of a region by fostering interdisciplinary dialogue and opportunities for community building to over 40 cities around the world. To learn more about how our LASER Hosts and to visit a LASER near you please visit our website. @lasertalks

Featured image Angelo Vermeulen, SEADS – Biomodd [BRG13] – 2021_installation view


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