Designer Laura Boffi envisions a future in which human instincts will leap behind on technological progress. For example, once the 'disease called mortality' is cured with regenerative medicine, man may start to see death not as a biological event in his life, but as something that may occur to the 'unlucky on call'.  What would be the implications for our instincts for death?

Will human instincts become object of design, and if so, how would that work? Will there be schools for 'bioinstinct designers'? Will it be arranged by the government? Or will it be a personal choice, depending on religious and cultural views?

To fuel the debate, Boffi created an incubator in which parents can implant certain instincts in their infant. They could agree on the genetic modification for the sake of the social ecology, depending on their ethical values, or they could go for it to suit natural parents' concern of protecting their baby.

Attributing a cultural use of the biotechnology, rather than a technical use, Bioinstinct is a project about the way man could cope with his instincts in the age of biotechnology.

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  • tx again for the comments. the aim of the project is actually question people about possible uses of new technologies and the implications of those... my incubator is meant to work as a big question mark and a "forced stop" to think about where to drive our technological progress. no distopya, no uthopya vision, but lots of layers of meanings that make me reflect and drive me on my working on this kind of topic as a designer. So, tx again!

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  • It surprises me that so few people seem at all concerned about the implications of death being cured. It would be wonderful to live for a thousand years or more, I'm sure a lot of us would, given the opportunity. But the end result of that would be an unparalleled population explosion. Death is the dam holding that flood back, and it is already leaky, given our exponentially increasing population. If that dam were removed completely, there could only be two outcomes, as I see it. Option one would be widespread famine, as resources would vanish to support the Earth's massive (and ever-older) population. Option two would be management of everyone's reproductive rights by the government, so that the only babies born would be replacements for the members of the population dying due to accidents. If option two were the case, humanity would essentially become frozen in time, culturally and ideologically, because there would be no new people to take things in different directions. Unless we suddenly discovered a means of rapid interstellar travel so we could spread proportionally to our new growth rate, I really don't see any other alternatives with death removed as a factor.

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  • Whenever I read articles like this it sends a panicked chill down my spine. Not because of mans "tampering" with nature but rather because we are so incredibly primitive. We could achieve so much if we could overcome our shelf-life by a few hundred or even thousands of years. I really do believe we are living in a dark age. A time when the only coping mechanisms for death are brainwashing, morbid acceptance and mass delusion. Far too many of us were born too early :( -Denny

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  • Hi, tx a lot for the comment! The particular incubator in the pic is thought to help the baby to get the instinct against accidental death caused by gas leak. So it is an incubator required the first month of life at home...a home rocking incubator!. The baby embryo has been modified with alien genes, that's the way i designed the fiction. The baby will get particular chemio-recepting eyelash and luminescent eyelids, so that in case of gas leak during night he/she could get up. To help the baby express the alien genes in his/her body, he/she will need to have the good toxic environment for the first period of life. The baby incubator will do the job as the mother will breath out CO2 into it from time to time...

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  • So the question Laura Boffi asks is: "Would we need bioinstincts when death is demoted into a curable disease?" I think the answer is Yes. In the envisioned future we might have conquered aging and found a cure for open wounds etc, but there are way more threats to be coped with than these. Fixed action patterns like the need for reproduction and the need for feeding would perhaps evolve, but certainly not disappear. If these instincts came to vanish from our existence, the new question becomes: "Can the living entity still be called human? Or a living organism even?" Instincts and learning capacity make us the humans we are; evolving creatures in a quest of life over dead matter. Conquering human mortality still does not make us the masters of the universe. Life is fragile and would loose without some mechanism to want to survive. And its alleged evolution is still subject to environment, not to choice. Hence... if it is the instincts we would want to mould, we'd have to change the surrounding conditions first. And that -- reflecting to Laura Boffi's incubator installation -- is exactly what she depicted. Good job!

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