235 results for “Intimate Technology”

This expo explores love in the internet age

NextNature.net
January 15th 2020

Data Dating is an exhibition that explores what it means to find romance in the internet age. Love it or hate it, technology has transformed the way we date. So, how are digital interfaces reshaping our personal relationships, and what happens when passion runs free in both offline and online spaces?

Bringing together the works of several international artists, Data Dating reveals new forms of intimate communication, contemplates the commodification of love through dating apps, and investigates the renegotiation of …

These speculative ‘Next Senses’ allow you to augment your senses with technology

NextNature.net
December 30th 2019

Imagine you could communicate telepathically with a whale, listen to the WiFi networks in your environment, or experience smells through seeing color. Developments in technology give us the rare opportunity to expand and augment our sensorial capabilities, and relate to other (non-)human life forms in various hybrid forms.

The world we live in changes constantly, but the senses we use to perceive it remain the same. Next Senses explores the unchartered territory of how we could experience the world with …

Oded Ezer discusses the future of typography and the importance of dreaming

Freya Hutchings
November 29th 2019

Oded Ezer is a typographer from Israel who never fails to push boundaries, or rather, discard them altogether. Ezer is a rebellious force that swings between commercial and experimental work, often blurring the two realms.

His meaningful yet functional commercial type is always accompanied by an unexpected twist, and his experimental work dives unapologetically into intimate and obscure areas of life, combining developments in scientific and medical fields with the universal medium of type in provocative ways.

In our view, …

The beginner’s guide to biohacking

Peter Joosten
November 19th 2019

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term 'biohacking'? Perhaps you are now thinking of a bunch of kids sitting in their kitchen with a DNA kit, (wannabe) cyborgs inserting subcutaneous chips in their bodies, or perhaps a person striving for optimum performance through a perfect lifestyle. These are all types of biohacking, but there's more to it. Here's what you need to know (and were too afraid to ask).

Bulletproof coffee

The problem …

Exploring body architecture with Lucy McRae

Meike Schipper
August 13th 2019

As evolution goes on, the human body is evolving too. What does it mean to be human in times of advanced biotechnology and genetic engineering? Are our bodies ready for our technologized lifestyle? We spoke with science fiction artist and body architect Lucy McRae, who is exploring the future of our body, beauty and the self. 

As former ballet dancer and architect, Lucy effectively blurs the boundaries between design, art, architecture and science. She is well-known for her Swallowable Parfume …

Can technology be humane?

NextNature.net
April 30th 2019

We must be mindful about how we engage with technology: what we use it for, why, and whether it helps us or hinders us. Sometimes our tech seems to be flowing in inhumane directions, and it feels beyond our power to redirect it. But humankind dams rivers, and alters the landscape in countless other radical ways: As we can redirect our technological growth—then why shouldn’t we direct it towards humans? 

Recently our Next Nature Fellows—people from different disciplines working in and around …

Artificial womb: Are we ready?

NextNature.net
April 5th 2019

“Within a few years it will be possible for a premature baby to continue to mature in an artificial womb,” says gynecologist Guid Oei. It is therefore that the Artificial Womb: Dream or Nightmare? symposium is held on 29 March at the TU/e Center for Humans & Technology—in collaboration with Next Nature Network. Not the question whether it’s possible, but whether we want this or not. Moreover, an ethicist, a journalist and a designer are also invited to share their …

Artificial womb: Dream or nightmare?

NextNature.net
March 22nd 2019

The emerging technology of the artificial womb confronts us with a series of moral and societal questions. How to cope with that? Join us on 29 March at Eindhoven University of Technology and discuss with us the promises and perils of growing babies outside the womb.

An artificial what? Well, the scientific accurate term for the enabling technology behind the artificial womb is Ectogenesis (from the Greek ecto, outer, and genesis, birth). Accordingly, it refers to "the growth of an …

How to bingewatch our ‘Intimate Technology’ video series

NextNature.net
March 12th 2019

Technology is coming closer to us. In the form of decades old headphones or state-of-art devices. It has always been a part of our lives and this only seems to develop further: Organ modules are grown from human cells, robots are asking for our attention and intelligent wearables control our emotions.

Technology is coming more and more towards—and inside—our body. Communication between people is also increasingly technologically mediated.

What does it mean for technology to colonize our body?

To explore …

Your Next Nature guide to Transmediale 2019

NextNature.net
January 18th 2019

Berlin is kicking off its cultural season with the not-to-miss 23th installment of Transmediale. This year the digital art/culture festival focuses on how feelings are made into objects of technological design, and asks what role emotions and empathy play within digital culture.

We combed the program so you don't have to:

How to Grow and Use Your Feelers (Workshop. Wednesday from 11:00 to 14:00

Donna Harrway's writings inspired the interdisciplinary techno-feminist research group #purplenoise to immerse us in a world …

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Data Dating is an exhibition that explores what it means to find romance in the internet age. Love it or hate it, technology has transformed the way we date. So, how are digital interfaces reshaping our personal relationships, and what happens when passion runs free in both offline and online spaces?

Bringing together the works of several international artists, Data Dating reveals new forms of intimate communication, contemplates the commodification of love through dating apps, and investigates the renegotiation of sexual identities and changing erotic taboos - all in relation to new dating technologies and the complexities that surround them.

So, get yourself out there and find out what the future of romance may hold!

What? An exploration into what happens when dating meets data
Where?  Watermans Arts Centre, London 
When? January 15 - March 1, 2020

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Imagine you could communicate telepathically with a whale, listen to the WiFi networks in your environment, or experience smells through seeing color. Developments in technology give us the rare opportunity to expand and augment our sensorial capabilities, and relate to other (non-)human life forms in various hybrid forms.

The world we live in changes constantly, but the senses we use to perceive it remain the same. Next Senses explores the unchartered territory of how we could experience the world with technology.

Ask yourself; if you could have another sense, which would you choose?

Next Senses, today

Some attempts have already been made to expand our perception with ‘next’ senses. Cyborg artist Neil Harbisson has a camera mounted on his head that translates colors into a vibration that he can hear, allowing him to hear colors.

Cybernetics professor Kevin Warwack has implanted sensors in the nerves of his left arm, which communicate with the sensors in his wife’s hand, allowing them to share the feeling of touch. There is also a group of people, so-called grinders or bio-hackers, who experiment with DIY magnetic implants with which they can detect electromagnetic fields.

Five augmented senses

Next Senses is an ongoing research project that consists of five future scenarios, set in parallel worlds where biology and technology have fully merged. Enjoy:

#1 Synesthesia

Synesthesia is a rare phenomenon where a sensation in one of the senses, such as smell, triggers a sensation in another, such as sight. Synesthetes can taste sounds, smell colors or even see scents. Now, synesthesia could be made widely accessible through technology. Imagine how your perception of the world would change when you can see certain scents.

#2 Electronic Empathy

For people who experience difficulties in identifying and describing feelings, the world can be a confusing place. They may experience an emotion, but are unsure which emotion it is. Electronic Empathy is a ‘third-eye’ implant that runs on facial recognition algorithms and is directly projected onto its users’ sight. It may help those in need detect the emotion they were looking for in the first place.

#3 Skin Waves

While humans have sought to discover, name, chart and plot every inch of land on the planet, the deepest depths of our oceans remain unknown. Skin Waves allows its user to feel the frequencies of whale sounds coursing through their bones, enabling a multispecies relationship as a way to deepen their spiritual relationship to nature.

#4 Baby Code

The link between a parent and child is profound, both physical and emotional factors influence the parent-child bonding process, and this bond can only strengthen over time. Baby Code imagines a future in which parents can use sensor technology that allows them to cater exactly what their newborn needs.

#5 WiFi Angels

WiFi radiation is all around, yet invisible to our human senses. Imagine you could hear WiFi. Every area has its own soundscape. Streets, parks, subways, hotels, highways and beaches all sound different. WiFi Angels allows its user to sense electromagnetic radiations by turning the WiFi networks around them into a choir of singing angels.

Looking for more? Good!

What senses can we develop to look at our world from an alternative perspective? Our talks present a richer understanding of nature. Our speakers present inspiring Stories for Change: new narratives on possible and preferable futures in which biology and technology are fusing. Curious? Get in touch!

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Oded Ezer is a typographer from Israel who never fails to push boundaries, or rather, discard them altogether. Ezer is a rebellious force that swings between commercial and experimental work, often blurring the two realms.

His meaningful yet functional commercial type is always accompanied by an unexpected twist, and his experimental work dives unapologetically into intimate and obscure areas of life, combining developments in scientific and medical fields with the universal medium of type in provocative ways.

In our view, Ezer has truly earned the title of “mad type scientist”, and his oeuvre exists as a “typographic wonderland” where literally anything goes.

Ezer invites us to dream about an alternative future for type - one where text is not confined to a two dimensional existence, viewed merely as an external record of human culture. Instead, he imagines type as an integrated part of ourselves and the living systems that surround us. His typographic transgressions cleverly fuse letters to animate, changeable and embodied systems in ways that give words a whole new communicative power.

Ezer’s latest project, Veining (2019), is a continuation of his never-ending quest to bring type to places it has never been before. He presents us with a future in which self expression meets biology; where words can be surgically implanted under our skin and connected to our veins. Giving the internal workings of the body a new visibility, Ezer further imagines that a fluorescent liquid can be injected into the text-vein hybrid, taking this speculative re-imagining of body modification to the next level.

Time for a chat.

Oded Ezer, Veining (2019)
Oded Ezer, Veining (2019)

Your work often incorporates or imagines developments in biotechnology. Why do you feel a responsibility to explore these future possibilities?

I think that I have a responsibility towards the past, I am only one part of a long chain. Yet I also have a responsibility to the future of typography as a changing field. I feel maybe I can contribute something to this change. Even if my ideas are not realistic sometimes, they add to the discourse that surrounds developments in typography and technology.

"Every step in cultural change started with someone dreaming."

These works add some kind of reason to start a conversation about the future - the future of the field, and the future of our culture. Because typography is just the tip of the iceberg that is culture.

In the same way everyone has a responsibility to their culture, type is so universal that every contribution to the development of the field is also a contribution to the development of our culture. Typography is so fundamental for communicating, and an important brick in our future as human beings. The danger of what I’m doing is that somebody might think it is too far fetched. Someone can say you’re just dreaming - and I’m ok with that. Because every step in cultural change started with someone dreaming.

Oded Ezer, Veining (2019)

Let’s focus on your new project, Veining. How did it begin?

It started as another attempt to try to find new ways of working with type. My basic approach is to understand that the role of type is changing. People are reading less and less. They feel better with videos and visuals more and more. It is similar to the times where humans heard stories, and didn’t read them.

I’m naturally thinking, ok, so how would typography evolve now? That was my starting point: to find new ways of expressing, using and living with type. I had to think, what is the next step that will unite visual and typographic representation? We are living in a time where there has been a dramatic change in the role of type and written words. 

Do you see this change in the role of type as positive?

Conservative people might dislike this change. For some it is a loss. But you look at it afresh, as a possibility of change and redefinition, then it’s like a playground. It’s a good opportunity to play, think, imagine and invent. To contribute your angle. I think the next generation will have absolutely no problem with these kinds of body modifications. It is just a matter of perception, and norms are changing rapidly.

"The next generation will have absolutely no problem with these kinds of body modifications"

Oded Ezer, Veining (2019)
https://vimeo.com/354472098

How would integrating type into the body, as Veining proposes, make us view our bodies differently?

My suggestion is that we will relate to our bodies as a kind of screen, or interface. We can treat our bodies as a format to deliver messages, a tool. Instead of something that is just receiving data, we might use our bodies in ways that actually project data. We already have similar ideas, like using the skin as an interface. But what I'm suggesting is maybe the start of treating the whole three dimensional body as an interface.

"What I'm suggesting is maybe the start of treating the whole three dimensional body as an interface."

In the next phase we may go even deeper. We have so many possibilities and spaces to use under the skin - our muscles and inner organs. This may be a first step in going deeper into the body and treating it as a tool for communication data. It was so important for me that the type would be part of the body, not an additional element - a data communicating element that is part of the happenings of the body. 

For Typo-Plastic Surgeries (2006), Ezer imagined type as part of the human body - a seamless extension of his skin. This typographic fiction succeeds in re-imagining our connections with type, and experiments with the body as a communicator through a subversive hybridization of biology and text.
Oded Ezer, Typo-Plastic Surgeries (2006)

Did you incorporate medical and scientific knowledge into the design process of Veining? 

Usually I do, in the case of Veining I consulted medical surgeons. But I must confess, this is slightly less important to me right now. Because if you really think about veining in terms of practicality, you would learn that at the moment it would be very dangerous to do it. Whether it’s possible is not really the question. What is more important is the concept and the idea that something like this might work in the future. If I am caught up on thinking what is possible, it will stop me from thinking about typography. The idea is much more important than the practicality. 

"Whether it’s possible is not really the question"

In some cases people really want to know how it is possible. A number of people have asked me, why doesn’t the fluorescent liquid travel outside of the word after being injected into the blood? I imagine there would be some kind of gate or barrier within the vein, at the start and end of the word. This would allow the blood to travel through but stop the fluorescent liquid from seeping out. For instance, I know this kind of thing really is being developed by scientists. 

For Biotypography (2005-2006), Ezer morphed ants, rats and sperm cells into transgenic letter-organism hybrids through an imagined biotechnological intervention in their DNA. Here, type becomes a tangible shape-shifter between biology and culture, static and living, organic and technological.
Oded Ezer, Biotypography (2005-2006)

Would you like to be in closer communication with scientific and medical worlds?

I would love to do that. I just haven’t had the chance yet. I would love to have scientists contacting me with the start of an idea, asking to collaborate. I live in a country where there are groundbreaking scientists - Israel is famous for its innovative work. But somehow it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe my work is too artsy for scientists?

"It’s a good thing to consider because scientists often think like artists"

Given the opportunity, I would jump on it! It’s a good thing to consider because scientists often think like artists. I remember when Paolla Antonelli showed Typosperma at MoMA in 2008, she was so happy to find another project by a scientist that talked about some of the same things - but from a completely different angle. 

Oded Ezer, Typosperma (2006-2007)

Is your forward thinking approach something that is intuitive to you? 

I think intuition is a big part of it. Intuition is one of the most important things for going to the next level. But if you have no knowledge behind your intuition, your ideas will never go as deep as they can go. I think that my more academic and artistic knowledge is such a deep and great source for inspiration.

If you have it you can play with that in endless combinations. But if I want to move forward and create something about the future, I have to make the jump. The jump involves taking what I know and combining it with aspects that are new. And to not be afraid of going places where other people haven’t gone yet. I’ve never had this kind of fear - my only fear is to stop creating or to stop thinking. I’m not afraid to look ridiculous, I just want to go further.

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What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term 'biohacking'? Perhaps you are now thinking of a bunch of kids sitting in their kitchen with a DNA kit, (wannabe) cyborgs inserting subcutaneous chips in their bodies, or perhaps a person striving for optimum performance through a perfect lifestyle. These are all types of biohacking, but there's more to it. Here's what you need to know (and were too afraid to ask).

Bulletproof coffee

The problem with biohacking is that all the examples outlined above are true. Amateur biotechnologists, cyborgs and supporters of a healthy lifestyle all associate themselves with the term biohacking.

Within the latter group, which I call the lifestyle optimizers, Dave Asprey is the guru. Asprey is the frontman of the American brand Bulletproof. Among other things, this brand sells special coffee that you must mix with butter and coconut oil. The promised result: instant focus, without any sugar crash and hours of satiation.

A brief bio of biohacking

But what exactly do we mean when we speak of 'biohacking'? The term was first used in 1988 in an opinion piece for the Washington Post. The article described the possibilities to perform all kinds of technological experiments from your basement. This included DNA analysis, the cultivation of bacteria and testing the effect of viruses on fungi. Today, this definition is still dominant for the group of amateur biotechnologists.

Within the other two groups, the cyborgs and the lifestyle optimizers, biohacking is aimed at people. In using the term, the link to computers is made: just consider how computerhackers break into hardware and software vs. biohackers grinding their own wetware.

The cyborgs take this notion quite literally, by implanting technology into their bodies, whereas lifestyle followers believe that you can improve the human body and prevent aging with smart nutrition, health hacks and useful gadgets.

Steam engines and other metaphors

The comparison with computer technology comes from our current technological paradigm. Yet in the past, the paradigm of that time was used to look at the human body.

At the time of the Industrial Revolution, the human brain was considered a constellation of pipes, steam and drive shafts. The saying "blowing off some steam" is also a good example of how people saw themselves as, well, a kind of steam engine.

These days we see the brain often described as an algorithm or hard disk and the body as a battery that needs to recharge. Keeping this in mind, the idea of biohacking is not that strange.

Technology after all, is what makes us human.

Shifting boundaries

Take something as simple as sight. In prehistoric times, your chances of survival were nil when suffering from poor vision. When the first glasses were made around 1200 AD, our ancestors most likely responded, “Your vision was given to you by God—why change that?"

As we have developed ourselves scientifically over time, so did our technology; as contact lenses are socially accepted today, does this also apply to smart contact lenses that have a Google Glass-like function tomorrow?

And what about LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), or commonly referred to as laser eye surgery. This technology is becoming more accessible, but how socially accepted is it to give yourself super vision like golf superstar Tiger Woods

This is my point: ethical boundaries of what we find socially acceptable are constantly shifting. That is what biohacking is about. Glasses are no longer biohacking, but smart contact lenses are.

Thinking ahead, one may wonder: Will glasses at some point become out-dated? Will everyone have genetically modified eyes for optimum vision?

Chances are, the next generations of biohackers will be at the forefront of these technologies. Perhaps they will replace their biological eyes with bionic ones. Perhaps they will simply change their diet.

Just like our technology, biohacking (and its dream and ideas that we have of ourselves) moves along the progress of mankind. But as with other technological developments, it's impossible to predict how these will evolve in the future. But there is one thing that we can be certain of. Things will change.

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As evolution goes on, the human body is evolving too. What does it mean to be human in times of advanced biotechnology and genetic engineering? Are our bodies ready for our technologized lifestyle? We spoke with science fiction artist and body architect Lucy McRae, who is exploring the future of our body, beauty and the self. 

As former ballet dancer and architect, Lucy effectively blurs the boundaries between design, art, architecture and science. She is well-known for her Swallowable Parfume and the photographic collaboration with Bart Hess, with whom she explored how the human silhouette might evolve. We spoke to Lucy about her recent projects, the future of our bodies and the importance of a feminine perspective on technology. 

Crisis of touch

Lucy’s most recent project is the Compression Cradle, which she exhibited at the Design Triennale in Milan. The Compression Cradle is a machine that affectionately hugs you. Every hour, audience members were able to get underneath the Compression Cradle and aerated volumes would hold them tight. Is this the way to prepare our bodies for a future that lacks human affection?

The Compression Cradle (2019), co-commissioned by Het Nieuwe Instituut and Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences

“Last year, The Guardian released an interesting article that said we are in a crisis of touch,” Lucy tells. “When you hug someone, you release the hormone oxytocin, a hormone that is responsible for building trust and desire amongst humans.” Unfortunately, in our world of virtual connection human touch becomes scarce. 

Instead of perceiving technology as the alienating factor in human connections, Lucy is interested in its possibilities. “Perhaps in the future, technology will be able to fill those needs. Will we have machines that repair the broken bonds with ourselves and the people around us? Compression Cradle is part of my inquiry into design as something that is restorative. Can design become a restorative mechanism?”

Break down barriers

The concept of restorative design and technology originates from an earlier project: The Future Day Spa. This futuristic spa is a personalised, guided experience, offering treatments that evoke states of love, trust and relaxation. “The Future Day Spa is also a project around a machine that hugs you, but it is shown in a different way; more like a film where the audience are characters in the future scenario,” Lucy explains.

The Future Day Spa (2015)

“During the ten-minute treatment at the Future Day Spa, one of the audience members said that he suffered from haptophobia, which is a fear of touch. He never had physical contact with any other person. Yet after the treatment, he said this felt like an embrace; he knew that this felt like a hug. There was this very sincere emotional connection going on, and when he got up out of the bed, he reached out and he hugged me. I realized that even somebody who silences his release of oxytocin and deprives himself off touch, still has this craving for it.”

This experience triggered Lucy to look at technology differently. “In this case, technology was the bridge between his fear of touch and his desire to be touched, which resulted in him breaking that barrier and then interacting with me again by giving me a hug. For me, it’s not about technology being in the spotlight; technology is being a harbinger to break down barriers. So that we get in touch with ourselves again.”

Technology is being a harbinger to break down barriers.

We are the protagonists

Lucy’s focus on bodily experience, touch and beauty is - up until now - quite unusual in the field of science fiction. She wants to give science fiction the sex change that is long overdue. “I am pleading for a future that is fleshy, visceral, messy and far away from anything related to the masculine sci-fi stereotype.”

“I think that it is necessary to bring a feminine perspective on technology and treat it more like an elastic membrane that is draped over something else, as opposed to it being the protagonist. I feel like our bodies, our minds and our personalities are the protagonist and technology exists just to support what we are trying to achieve.”

Our bodies, our minds and our personalities are the protagonist.

Lucy emphasizes that the exploration of subjects such as beauty and identity is essential to science fiction. “We are testing our future by imagining life off earth. In a way, beauty and identity are testing the waters of the future. Perhaps leaving earth and going to space is so alienating, that we are exploring alienating beauty as a way of testing what it might be like to live off earth. Beauty and fashion almost become symbols of where we are going.”

Calculated beauty

The Biometric Mirror utilizes the concept of beauty to reflect on artificial intelligence. “Biometric Mirror is a beauty salon that invites the general public to come in and be analyzed,” Lucy elaborates. “You're told how weird you are, whether you’re an introvert and extrovert, your gender, your age; it's this clean sweep of biometrics. Next, it morphs your face into what is considered to be bio-statistically beautiful.” It’s definition of beauty is based on an equation of Hollywood’s plastic surgery, the Marquardt’s mask, that is still used in most plastic surgeries to date. 

“The result is that, if we all follow the kind of perfected beauty portals that the Marquardt’s mask draws up, we are all going to look the same. Will artificial intelligence end up with a dull mono aesthetic without variation? Biometric Mirror is a way to engage the public and ask questions around the ethics of artificial intelligence. We need to be able to make accidents and there needs to be serendipity. How do we make sure that we keep that serendipity in artificial intelligence?”
 

How do we make sure that we keep that serendipity in artificial intelligence?

Generally, science seems to be on a mission to achieve perfection and suppress serendipity. “If we look for example at genetic engineering, its’ aim is to remove any disease, any imperfections. We can delete it; we can cut it out and replace it.” This is both a danger and a chance. “In a way, science is design. And that excites me, because then we may deliberately design the human body,” Lucy states.

After all, she remains an optimist. “I think the most important thing is that we ask the right questions, that the questions we’re asking are relevant and provocative and disruptive. We have to make sure that we are asking everybody, not just the experts. And that's why art is so important; you can't quantify art, you can't measure experimentation, and that's what makes it so valuable. Art and design can ask questions that science and technology may not. Ideally, someone experiences my work and is inspired to ask a question that they never have thought of before.” 

Lucy McRae is currently preparing for a solo show at NGV in Melbourne, Australia. You can also experience her work at San Fransisco MOMA as part of the show Far Out until January 2020, and during the first Rabat Biennale starting in September 2019.

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We must be mindful about how we engage with technology: what we use it for, why, and whether it helps us or hinders us. Sometimes our tech seems to be flowing in inhumane directions, and it feels beyond our power to redirect it. But humankind dams rivers, and alters the landscape in countless other radical ways: As we can redirect our technological growth—then why shouldn’t we direct it towards humans? 

Recently our Next Nature Fellows—people from different disciplines working in and around the next nature theme—came together to discuss this pressing question and explore the grassroots of our upcoming research topic: Humane Technology.

Humane technology?

Humane technology is a rather ambiguous term that is open to several interpretations. It also raises the question if can technology be humane — it seems as if it’s a contradictory statement in itself.

The Oxford Dictionaries describes ‘humane’ “as to having a civilizing effect on people.” Humane technology then, refers to technology that takes society to a stage of development considered to be more advanced, by taking human needs as its starting point. Because why create technology that does not respond to how humans learn, think, and create and thrive?

With all respect to the future, we see two possible paths along which our co-evolutionary relationship with technology could unfold: the dream path and the nightmare one. We are at the turning point where we can either sleepwalk into our technological future, or contain it by building humane technology that safeguards our humanity and replenishes society.

Upgrading technology vs downgrading humanity

Many conversations about the future focus on the point where technology surpasses human capability and exceeds human vulnerabilities. Humane technology therefore requires that we understand our most vulnerable human instincts so we can design accordingly and protect us from abuse.

In his Letter to Humanity, NNN director Koert van Mensvoort writes about his concern about the questionable line between technology that facilitates humanity, and technology that deprives our human potential. “And I don’t see that as desirable, because I’m a person, and I’m playing for team human.” We must therefore envision a world where human needs and goals are incorporated into the very core of technology as they are built.

Six principles

In order for technology to thrive, we’ve taken a step towards creating a common vocabulary with six principles that should be at the core of developing humane technology.

  • Humane technology should feel natural, rather than estranging.
  • Humane technology should revive human intuitions.
  • Humane technology takes human values as its cornerstone.
  • Humane technology resonates with the human senses.
  • Humane technology should empower people.
  • Humane technology must improve the human condition.
  • Domesticated by the system

    Koert van Mensvoort wonders whether humane technology is about technological innovation or social innovation. The two seem to go hand in hand. William Myers thinks solutions and approaches towards technology are humane, although these are not technological.

    Arne Hendriks wonders whether we even need technology to become more humane, and thinks that technology itself has no morality. In his view, ‘humane’ is an ethical debate (just have a look at the technology events that raised ethical concerns in the last two years).

    In a way, you could say that humane technology is about domesticating ourselves in relation to our (technological) surroundings. Technology not only alters our environment, it ultimately alters us. In an optimistic view, the changes to come will allow us to be more human than ever before.

    “And what about animals and other lifeforms?” Teresa van Dongen wonders. It’s a legit hesitation; ‘humane’ does imply solutions that puts human concern at the core of the solution. It’s therefore necessary to question ourselves what is meant with such an adjective. Does it mean that something respects human and non-human living actors? Or is it just related to humans? And what will be the purpose of this definition?

    Sure, humane technology hints at tech that is good for humanity, but when we speak about humane technology, we need to broaden the actors into the conversation — not only for ourselves, but for the planet as a whole.

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    “Within a few years it will be possible for a premature baby to continue to mature in an artificial womb,” says gynecologist Guid Oei. It is therefore that the Artificial Womb: Dream or Nightmare? symposium is held on 29 March at the TU/e Center for Humans & Technology—in collaboration with Next Nature Network. Not the question whether it’s possible, but whether we want this or not. Moreover, an ethicist, a journalist and a designer are also invited to share their vision on the artificial womb.

    The design

    Five large red balloons are hanging from the ceiling in the theatre room. They were designed by Hendrik-Jan Grievink (designer at NNN), in close collaboration with the team of gynecologist Guid Oei from Máxima Medical Centre.

    It is not intended for these works of art to cherish the extremely premature babies. Yet, it may seem plausible, as the object is holding connections for the umbilical cord, a supply of simulated amniotic fluid and the electronics that can display the heartbeat and movements of the mother.

    But for the time being these bulbs serve as an eye-catcher. “Let the discussion begin,” say Oei and Grievink.

    IVF

    Journalist Larissa Pans wholeheartedly agrees with them. She wrote the book Unlimited Fertility and speaks about the unforeseen consequences of IVF treatments that have turned the world upside down since the 1970s.

    “I consider the current international fertility industry as a spin-off from the discovery of IVF,” she states.

    Moderator Koert van Mensvoort and author Larissa Pans

    In 1978, the first IVF baby was born in Bristol: Louise Brown. For her book, Pans spoke with gynecologists Bert Alberda and Gerard Zeilmaker, who at the time also tried to allow fertilization outside the body in the Dijkzicht hospital in Rotterdam (NL).

    Two years after the birth of Louise Brown, they were allowed to return embryos to the women whose egg cells were fertilized. The first Dutch IVF baby was born in 1983. Now there are eight million IVF babies worldwide.

    Tupperware

    “Besides a fertility industry, I even see fertility tourism,” says Pans. “Egg-freezing parties are being held in America. There is trade in eggs and sperm, each country has its own rules. Dutch women fly to Cyprus or Spain for an anonymous egg. Is motherhood a right that you can claim?”

    The journalist continues to speak about her eye-opening moment. “I understood the feminist view—that it’s a good thing for women to gain power over their fertility. But I once spoke to a woman who was born as a triplet from an anonymous donor. She is angry and feels like a ‘B-child’, because she discovered that she comes from a sperm cocktail from different men. So this means that there are also losers: the children with identity questions.”

    Gynecologist Guid Oei

    Guid Oei is a gynecologist at Máxima Medical Center and saves premature babies. He talks about the problems that prematurely born babies face (the air damages their vesicles) and social concerns (from the huge medical costs to having only fifty percent chance of survival).

    It is his dream to be able to use artificial wombs, “not in the lab, but in maternity suites.” Oei expects that it can be that far within a few years. “A lamb has already been born in Japan that grew for weeks in a—transparent—artificial womb.”

    Questions, questions, questions

    “A lamb in a bag doesn't look like a nightmare, does it,” argues moderator Koert van Mensvoort.

    The audience has more questions: Is a child born twice with this technique? And if so, what is the birthday? How does the baby bond with the mother? What does it do with the mother psychologically? Are there any physical consequences? What about milk production? What is the relation to adoption? Oei has no answers yet. “Follow-up is needed,” he says, “but this is a better solution than an incubator.”

    Visitor Sylvie Kars takes notes of the questions. She is an educator at Freya, an association for parents with fertility problems. “I find it very interesting to see the possibility of an artificial womb. I was expecting science fiction scenes, but only here do I realize that it can currently be a solution for premature births. That makes it less bizarre. And we have to talk about the possibilities of technology. You can't ignore that.”

    Abortion

    When Lily Frank from the Philosophy and ethics group (TU / e Faculty of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences) enters the stage, the questions become even more complex. She wonders whether ectogenesis (growing babies outside the womb) will end the abortion discussion.

    Other questions follow from her and from the public. Is a fetus entitled to life? Is ending the life of the fetus in the artificial womb the same as abortion? Who decides? The mother, the father, the doctor? Is a fetus the property of parents and do they have the right to destroy it? Does a woman have the right not to become a biological mother?

    Ethicist Lily Frank in conversation with Dutch news broadcaster Nieuwsuur

    What started with the future dream of having artificial wombs ends this afternoon with thoughts about contracts for mothers who would rather give up their child in such a womb.

    The message is clear, says Van Mensvoort: “Don't be naive about negative side effects. Discuss! And do that beforehand, and not afterwards, as with IVF."

    This story is a report from the Artificial Womb: Dream or Nightmare? symposium that took place on March 29th at TU/e. We thank our talented speakers and the wonderfully engaging audience for their contribution. Missed out? Dutch news broadcaster Nieuwsuur was present and filmed a segment of the event. Watch it here (in Dutch).

    ? Written by Norbine Schalij
    ? Phototography by Bart van Overbeeke

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    The emerging technology of the artificial womb confronts us with a series of moral and societal questions. How to cope with that? Join us on 29 March at Eindhoven University of Technology and discuss with us the promises and perils of growing babies outside the womb.

    An artificial what? Well, the scientific accurate term for the enabling technology behind the artificial womb is Ectogenesis (from the Greek ecto, outer, and genesis, birth). Accordingly, it refers to "the growth of an organism in an artificial environment outside the body in which it would normally be found.
    "Unnatural you say? Biological reproduction is a highly technologized area for years already; consider how birth control has become widely accepted and available, and already over 6 million humans have been put onto this earth through In Vitro Fertilization.
    Are we ready for this? The artificial womb—or at least the ability to create one—is inching its way toward us. The big question is whether or not society is ready for it. Thus we need a debate on the impact of emerging reproductive technologies. Join us!

    Speakers include Hendrik-Jan Grievink (designer Next Nature Network), Guid Oei (gynecologist MMC), Lily Frank (ethicist TU/e), and Larisa Pans (author of the book “Onbeperkt vruchtbaar” - Limitless fertility). Moderated by Koert van Mensvoort (creative director Next Nature Network and Fellow TU/e).

    Date: 29 March
    Time: 12:30 - 16:30
    Location: Blauwe Zaal, Auditorium, TU/e campus

    Free admission, RSVP via this link.

    This event is organized by the TU/e Center for Humans & Technology, in co-production with Next Nature Network

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    Technology is coming closer to us. In the form of decades old headphones or state-of-art devices. It has always been a part of our lives and this only seems to develop further: Organ modules are grown from human cells, robots are asking for our attention and intelligent wearables control our emotions.

    Technology is coming more and more towards—and inside—our body. Communication between people is also increasingly technologically mediated.

    What does it mean for technology to colonize our body?

    To explore such matter, we called upon artists, filmmakers and film enthusiasts around the world to visualize Intimate Technology in a one-minute video.

    Resulting in a digital mixtape of 16 films, NNN has found a strong partner in The One Minutes. Together we believe that, through the power of visualization, we can spur debate and capture the current spirit of time. Enjoy!

    S01E01 All my clothes
    S01E02 Misbehaving (ro)bots
    S01E03 An iReal
    S01E04 So happy together
    S01E05 The modular body
    S01E06 Also, the dichotomy of pragmatism and perversion
    S01E07 Our selves
    S01E08 Scroll

    Rather watch the full thing at once? Then head to Youtube.

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    Berlin is kicking off its cultural season with the not-to-miss 23th installment of Transmediale. This year the digital art/culture festival focuses on how feelings are made into objects of technological design, and asks what role emotions and empathy play within digital culture.

    We combed the program so you don't have to:

    How to Grow and Use Your Feelers (Workshop. Wednesday from 11:00 to 14:00

    Donna Harrway's writings inspired the interdisciplinary techno-feminist research group #purplenoise to immerse us in a world of “feelers” as symbols for an extended human sensorium.

    Algorithmic Intimacies (Talk. Saturday from 12:00 to 13:30)

    Intimacy is a crucial element of domestic life, yet there's a deficit in current understandings of how technologies are used within algorithmic intimacies. In this talk, fembots, virtual assistants and dating apps are discussed to reflect upon how today’s algorithmic lives are felt.

    Knitting and Knotting Love (Keynote. Saturday from 18:00 to 19:30)

    How do you love? And how is this love traversed through networks? In their performative lecture at transmediale 2019, Shaka McGlotten tracks a networked experience of love.

    Alter Media (Screening. Saturday from 19:30 to 21:30)

    From global connectedness bridging unimaginable distances to data abuse, automated opinion manipulation and unrestrained marketing strategies. This screening depicts a broad spectrum of lived experiences with the media spheres of our time.

    Actress + Young Paint (live AI/AV) (Performance. Saturday from 21:30 to 22:30)

    Meet the AI-based character that spends its time programming Actress’ sonic palette. Expect a life-size projection of the AI working in a virtual studio, coming together with a physical performance on stage.

    Cover image: Rory Pilgrim, Software Garden, 2018. Courtesty of the artist and andriesse-eyck galerie Some rights reserved. (Performance: Friday from 20:00 to 21:00)

    Transmediale 2019 takes place from 31 January to 3 February 2019 at Haus der Kulturen der Welt. Tickets.

    [post_title] => Your Next Nature guide to Transmediale 2019 [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => your-next-nature-guide-to-transmediale-2019 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-01-18 14:14:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-01-18 13:14:58 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=107665 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 ))[post_count] => 10 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 126568 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2020-01-15 12:00:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-01-15 11:00:00 [post_content] =>

    Data Dating is an exhibition that explores what it means to find romance in the internet age. Love it or hate it, technology has transformed the way we date. So, how are digital interfaces reshaping our personal relationships, and what happens when passion runs free in both offline and online spaces?

    Bringing together the works of several international artists, Data Dating reveals new forms of intimate communication, contemplates the commodification of love through dating apps, and investigates the renegotiation of sexual identities and changing erotic taboos - all in relation to new dating technologies and the complexities that surround them.

    So, get yourself out there and find out what the future of romance may hold!

    What? An exploration into what happens when dating meets data
    Where?  Watermans Arts Centre, London 
    When? January 15 - March 1, 2020

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