Human Futures symposium An Ethics of the Unknown Russell Blackford,

History of the concept of the future Current anxieties – corporations, environment

Emerging notions of the future – relationship to technology

Technology changing us – our capacities

Technology that mediates evolution -    does it? Can it?

The uncertainty part is about this mediation

What is ethics? -    politics and ethics of uncertainty

ethics: something about questions related to how live lives

t good life

politics is ethics writ large?

Ethics and politics of idea that technology can go inward and transform us

Should we respond with repugnance?

Leon Kass – cloning is repugnant

Bill McKibben –

Organization of society should not proscribe the good life

When laws are passed to ban technologies, enforces conception of t good that is at odds with liberal minded people – even if you agree with the rules

Social and public policy – going in the wrong directio

Reproductive cloning – currently not safe, so reasons to discourage

Is agreement with policy enough to justify the legal implementation of the good

There will be more issues of this kind

1997 Dolly

Justina Robson

Introduction to sci fi through Assimov, etc

Sci-fi was not for me as absorbed in ethics and morality – should and ought

Fiction of the future is – looking back in my life – are horror fictions – -    eg. credit crunch,

characters – how affected by these horrors

most of my heroines are  people who are booted into transgressions and must live with them -  they learn to accept and use

first book – Silver Screen – AI and self-evolution – technological singularity

I felt compelled to answer these questions about machinic intell

What is life?

Dawkins level still – biological machines

Replicators struggling to survive

Meme replicators

Skating over the difficult scientific issues – which nobody knows how to resolve

Hard sci-fi fans like it to be realistic

Silver Screen -    is  psychologist to an AI

as ug ,developed a Turing Test

machine replicant of a human seemed most convincing

in the story the AI is a property of a large corporate body

becomes subject of HR case and is granted those rights

inherited ideas from the past – silver screen – cyberpunk tradition – William Gibson – action driven, often depressing –

Arthur C. Clarke – children enhanced b alien race – to join  a hive mind being – whole of human race joins this hive mind – eastern philosophy pull in by western thinkers – we are one, unity, etc – moving to glowing  - this repeats in my stories too

Technological transformation of individual and society

Octavia Butler – US sci fi writer – deeply rooted in personal experience  - often involve alien encounter – could be  shape-shifter, or – and quite uniquely – start cloning processes with humans, etc  - not quite dystopian – but gruesome and disturbing

Healthy body integral to identity – when sick we feel v different – when I was v fit, world felt profoundly different – so imagine v signif changes – memory download – replication – complexity of decision making processes

ME: kasparove vs machine

Eternal Sunshine – rare story that ends up with absence of meaning

Ursula Leguin (sp?) -    speculating on how could change if views of gender were changed -    imagines gender neutrality of characters – human tries to relate to these people as one gender or not -    aliens are some aspect of ourself we don’t know how to deal with

ME: Kass can’t deal with his inner alien

Whether sci-fi becomes part of emerging

Norman M. Klein

When I was here last I predicted a great crash Forgetting –

History of the present – from Foucault Use HF book to re-encounter the present The present began Sept/Oct 1973 Vatican to vegas – ended when iraq war started

The future of forgetting – I incorrectly predicted where we’re supposed to be going.

Liverpool is being erased – working class

It appears that 1990s  - being put into place – trendy new Liverpool – erasing one thing tht would make Liverpool exicitnig now at a time where that era died yesterday

Where globalization is leading – term  / Much will change / Master planning harder to do / Changes in cities / Inversion of public and private / will post-Obama world reverse it? / neo-liberal model erased master plan – transformed by George With Bush / imaginary 20th Century – how was it seen before it happened and what phantoms continue – woman in 1901 selects 4 men to seduce her and what happens to them and her – what versions of t future didn’t come into existence / how we are mis-preparing for this / urban planning  - downtown LA – what are they meant to be in this new ecomony – in US prior down town no longer functions as downtown – not in downtown LA – gothic revival obsession – surburban fantasy of itself – good coffee, no tea –

ME: didn’t talk much about Asia

Scripted spaces – staged environments –

Incredible comedy on tragic scale

Something has reinvented identity –

Instead of becoming a machine, we become machinic

We lose consciousness of difference between machine and human.

Fantasize about the unreal – but when it happens we are surprised

Impact of media is slowing us down

Dominated by medication

Will need to: Design a public culture Be less cybernetic

Questions & Answers

Linda Candy: prediction – if not, then prescribe – I used to be a teacher – used to teach books like Brave New World, 1984, etc. looking back on the dystopan vision, we went into that somewhat mindless of what we were selling to these children. Looking forward – what would you prescribe for children to read –

Russell: Brave New World v immoral as it plays on people’ prejudices, because they are seen as bizarre – this should never be advised – I had an article in Quadrant – ‘who’s afraid of the Brave New World?’ – Bill Gibson’s ‘neuromancer’ – it’s not simply dystopian – it’s also alluring –

Norman: my students are rejecting utopian and dystopian

Justina: I was part of that generation – the presentation of the text is the crucial issue – but the bleak literature must have an opposition – today’s sci-fi are terrifying, etc, but also wonderful – the wonder is almost a religious experience

Norman: when world in shift, search for future and past.  My students interested in parallel worlds. New Nietzsche. New freud – freud the novelist.  Canon must be to invent point of origin.

Q: in future, will there be a canon – or centralized syllabus

Justina: canon’s always serve status quo.

Norman: postmodernism ended day before my birthday 1989. Canon is archive. Death of canon interesting. As long as it keeps dying, will remain interesting.

Encourage you to violate it.

Q Andy Sawyer, Sci fi foundation, Uni of Liverpool: alternatives could be those Justina mentioned. Interested in 3 comments: 1) Russell – future recent concept in history 2) sci-fi should and ought centrality 3) Norman – versions of future that never happened.    As I look at it, 100yrs ago, vision of future, but now more anxious, ambiguous. No such thing as prediction of future –

Norman: don’t own the future. In western Europe – Americans thought they owned the future. Accidentally bought the future in atlantic alliance

Justina: ‘nothing dates like the future’ –  great uneasiness

Russell: gursback continuum – Bill Gibson – that future didn't happen

Life After Death in the 21st Century

Chair: Ernest Edmonds

Technologies that shift our perception of ourselves – space, place & time Mental capabilities Re-thinking physical Linking with nature End of science etoy concerned with wrestling with implications of modern ICTs. Mission Eternity etoy.CORPORATION

etoy does its own dirty work – maintenance etc

does not rely on high-tech hardware

members donate space from their hardware

ME: environmental modelling project

No structural separation between different tasks required of etoy – engineer, lawyer, etc.

Project approaches impossible – eternal existence -  condemned to never finding out success of – never reach eternity

Serious – not fake – obsessed with fact that we are not faking things – but also it’s not science or medicine – it is art.

The scientists also approach as an artwork.

We only used ‘pioneers’ as subjects

ME: what do you bring to that concept of pioneer

Mr. Keiser – micro film pioneer – businessman, actor

Collecting his life in an abstract way was more than just a documentary form -    eg. counting up to his age – make mistakes, which are dramatic within the recording.

Shift festival in Basel  - measured data in a performance



17k pixel led display

low res images -    avoid mis-undertstandings. Remembering as much about forgetting as it is about storing data – resolutions change.

Art & Autonomy: Beyond the Human Paul Brown

Roger Malina said first paper on global warming publishd in 18XX

V little time left before planet loses capacity to sustain life

Humanity will devolve into hunter gatherers

ME: how imagine this scenary in context of an advanced intelligence?

I’m a ‘buddist

No worth preserving me Humaniy an illusion

What is worthwhile?


As far as we know, we are only life in existence

Systems art – conceptual art

Jack Burnham – Beyond Modern Art (1968) -    artist would create autonomous life, - based on Nicoolas Schoffer, CYSP-1 1056, Edward Innatowicz ‘Cybernetic Art’, Edward Ihnatowicz, SAM, 1968

DrawBot V1 -    evolutionary robotics to evolve an automaton to create art

no way organic life can get into space, but these robust creatures can

life afte death is autonomous life forms

Linda Candy Life After death – hoping that there wasn’t one

1970s – age of uncertainty – devised BBC series - -first broadcast 1977 -    Galbraith: contrast great certainties of the past with today’s uncertainty. Decline and subversion of great economic movements


Nicola triscott Wha will kill us off Nuclear technology Doomsday device Threats from emerging technology

Likelihood of extinction – difficulty to predict

Distraction by immediate problems

Die back – overpopulation

Who  lives and who dies?

Space  Is not the escape option

Most sci and technology not human centred at all

Near earth space  - beyond why interesting?

Provoke thought about our planet