What Would Life Become?
The search for extraterrestrial biosignatures, animal (and the possibility of human) cloning, human/machine mashups (cyborgs), and dreams to facilitate reproduction beyond Earth are future-facing technologies that have further complicated purported thresholds, conditions, and boundaries of “the human” and “life”—as if such categories have ever been stable. The What Will Life Become? Workshop explores how scientists, theorists, and artists can design and co-shape the futures of life, the mind, and the planet.
In concert with the Berggruen Institute’s newly launched Future Humans program, the Workshop’s participants will share their work and speculations on how anticipated directions of “the human” — a subject in an increasingly interconnected world of new natures and new technologies — will intervene on social, political, and philosophical realms.
We will address the overarching question, “What Will Life Become?” through various methods to stimulate interdisciplinary, and perhaps unexpected, insights. The Public Forum and three Panels (“Life Forms Beyond the Human,” “Futures of Life in Outer Space,” and “Artificial Intelligence and the Futures of the Mind”) put into conversation scholars (philosophers, historians, anthropologists) and experimentalists (cosmologists, biotechnologists, AI practitioners) to ask, How do theory and practice inform future directions of liveliness and being? The Keynote (USC) and Speculative Worldmaking session (BI) invite creative interventions by which we might imagine and practice novel and inclusive ways how humans design and co-shape futures of liveliness and cognition.
Questions we will ask and answer in the Workshop include:
• 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?