Biotechnologies that push the limits of life, artificial intelligences that can be trained to learn, and endeavors that envision life beyond Earth are among recent and anticipated technoscientific futures. Such projects unsettle theories and material realities of body, mind, species, and the planet. They prompt us to ask: How will we conjure positive human futures and future humans?
On Thursday, April 21 and Friday, April 22, the Berggruen Institute and the USC Dornsife Center on Science, Technology, and Public, together with philosophers, scientists, and artists, collaboratively and critically inquire:
What Will Life Become?
“What Will Life Become?”
“Futures of Life”
“Futures of Mind”
“Futures in Outer Space”
The search for extraterrestrial biosignatures, human/machine cyborgian mashups, and dreams to facilitate reproduction beyond Earth are future-facing technologies. They complicate the purported thresholds, conditions, and boundaries of “the human,” “life,” and “the mind” — as if such categories have ever been stable.
In concert with the Berggruen Institute’s newly launched Future Humans Program, What Will Life Become? invites philosophers, scientists, and artists to design and co-shape the human and more-than-human futures of life, the mind, and the planet.
Day 1 at USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience 101 features a Keynote with director and speculative architect Liam Young who will discuss world-building through narrative and film with Nils Gilman; a Public Forum with leading scholars K Allado-McDowell, Neda Atanasoski, Lisa Ruth Rand, Tiffany Vora, moderated by Claire Isabel Webb, who will consider the question, “what will life become?” Reception to follow.
Day 2 at the Berggruen Institute features a three-part Salon: “Futures of Life,” “Futures of Mind,” and “Futures in Outer Space.” Conceptual artists Sougwen Chung, Nancy Baker Cahill, REEPS100, Brian Cantrell, and ARSWAIN will unveil world premieres. “Embodied Futures” invites participants to imagine novel forms of life, mind, and being through artistic and intellectual provocations.
How will scientists reform expectations of life and personhood in a post-biological world?
How will the extra-planetary recapitulate or stage new social relations, institutions, and politics of Earth?
How do novel human/non-human agents (animals, robots) disrupt andro- and anthropocentric hierarchies of species and mind?
How will concepts of indigeneity, race, and ethnicity be shuttled to worlds beyond Earth and times beyond our present?