Visionary transhumanism and radical design to merge in New York City

May 10, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

Two worlds will merge next weekend (May 14–15) in New York City, and it’s about time.

Humanity+ @ Parsons, a collaboration of Humanity+ and Parsons The New School for Design, promises to offer up a delicious cornucopia of innovative speakers and events. Appropriately kicking it all off: radical author/futurist/high-energy seminal thinker Howard Bloom, speaking on “Your Genie in a Bottle: Wish Fulfillment Machines. Trust me, Howard will tickle your imagination bone. Not to be missed.

“The man who had the answer to the future of the web was Alexander Chislenko,” hints Howard. “He said that when it comes to advertising, the person who should own the vehicle that brings a company, a product, or a service to your attention is not a platform owned by Google, Twitter, or Facebook. It should be a platform totally owned by you. Once you’ve mastered that trick, the nature of advertising changes profoundly. So does your life. On Saturday, I’ll explain how it works.”

Also speaking are Vivian Rosenthal, cofounder of New York-based Tronic Studio; artificial intelligence researcher Ben Goertzel, chair of Humanity+; strategic philosopher Max More, CEO of Alcor Life Extension Foundation; and neuroscientist Anders Sandberg, a James Martin Research Fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University.

Just a few examples of other imaginative talks:

Distributed Creativity of the Electric Sheep

Still frame from "Generation 243," commissioned by Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science for the lobby of their new building, the Gates/Hillman Center (credit: Scott Draves)

Software artist Scott Draves wants to make machines “come alive” — using collective intelligence via his free Electric Sheep screensaver. It runs on 450,000 computers and communicates (via his servers) to form a virtual supercomputer running a genetic algorithm that creates animations (“sheep”) that evolve into high-definition abstract paintings, spawning random mutations. The human participants guide the survival of the fittest by voting for their favorite animations in the flock. (Scott has an opening Friday night of a solo show at a Brooklyn gallery, if you arrive early.)

TIMESHIP: The Architecture of Immortality

Architectural Model of Proposed Timeship Project (credit: Stephen Valentine, architect)

Architect Stephen Valentine has created a radical concept called Timeship — a six-acre structure that will be a “center for pioneering research to indefinitely extend the healthy human lifespan.” It will also be “the world’s most secure and technologically advanced facility for the storage of cryopreserved biological materials, including DNA, organs for transplant, and whole mammalian organisms (including humans) … a Noah’s Ark to a future.”

Transhumanist Aesthetics of Life Extension: new persons/new platforms

(Credit: Natasha Vita-More)

Remember Primo 3M+, the radical future body design that we featured on KurzweilAI back in 2002? Now imagineer/designer/scholar Natasha Vita-More (co-chair with Ed Keller of Parsons of this event) is taking it even further out (is that possible?), exploring the state of the art of transformative human enhancement.

What happens if you combine body/performance art, wearables, and bio art with nanotech, regenerative biotech, artificial general intelligence, and neuro engineering? We’ll find out….

Scentient Beings: The AScent Through The Emotional Spectrum

"Smell The Colour Of The Rainbow" (credits: Design/concept: Dr. Jenny Tillotson, Dress: Adeline Andre, Photography: Guy Hills)

Dr. Jenny Tillotson is also pioneering new body media with a concept for a wearable “electronic nervous system” — a new “Scentsory” platform to improve memory, using computerized “scent-output systems” worn on the body for fashion and health applications. It “merges fashion, technology, fragrance and color therapy to ‘enhance mood’ and improve lifestyle,” she explains.

Scentsory can be programmed to deliver a colorful “wardrobe of fragrance,” depending on emotion, mood, occasion and time of day. The purpose: appeal to the your “ancient and primitive olfactory sense whilst complementing the audio/visual senses.”

UPDATED: Added quote from Howard Bloom