What is the ideal design of future humans?

Natasha Vita-More

There have been quite a few interesting subjects discussed at H+ @ Caltech today regarding the future of the human experience in light of exponential increases of information, artificial intelligence and medical breakthroughs.

But what’s to become of humanity’s long tradition of creating art and design that is used to express ourselves, as a way to communicate who we are, that exists as a projection of our own personas?

This afternoon, cultural strategist and designer Natasha Vita-More discussed the question she is contemplating, “Will we wear technological interfaces as a means of expression, or will the technologies wear us?”

In this new age of using digital avatars, or creating virtual personhoods, it is unclear how human-technology interfaces are going to change what we think of when we consider on our own personas.

Vita-More discussed briefly her work in developing a prototype of a future body, a “Primo Post Human,” and how we may be able to eventually design our own bodies enhanced with multi-functional technology and built for ultra-longevity. 
“We’re redesigning and resculpting our own identities,” Vita-More said. Or, in other more techy terms, “the user-agent observer guides the enhanced atrributes of its own system.” As wearable methods of technologies emerge and converge, she explained, we’re only going to see more merging of techno-personas in the future.

As she explains it, on a slide: “Currently our biology can either enable physical expressions of our personalities, or can turn us into captives through physiological addictions. The fusion of personhood and technology forms a narrative in exploring perceptions of human enhancement in media design and science.” 
Plus, with new technologies that will enhance our brains, like mind uploading–looking into the brain and copying it–there’s really no telling what our perception of “personhood” will be. Human enhancement will ultimately change the way we think of expression. 
What Vita-More argues is that, as technology progresses, that art and design should continue to play a role, and that we “not to leave the humanity in the human behind.”

She showed us some of fantastic visuals of her design work, which you can read about and see here and here. Plus, see Lisa Donchak’s (@lisadonchak) summary post of her talk here.

Although I’m not an artist by any stretch, I did find myself thinking about this talk for a while afterward for what it means to humanity. I tried to imagine a future without art and design in it. It would be a sad place indeed.  

Published by David Despain, MS, CFS

David is a science and health writer living on Long Island, New York. He's written for a variety of publications including Scientific American, Outside Online, the American Society for Nutrition's (ASN) Nutrition Notes Daily, and Institute of Food Technologists' (IFT) Food Technology magazine and Live! blog. He's also covered new findings reported at scientific meetings including Experimental Biology, AAAS, AOCS, CASW, Sigma Xi, IFT, and others on his personal blog "Evolving Health." David is also an active member of organizations including the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Society for Nutrition, the Institute of Food Technologists, and the National Audubon Society. David has a master's degree in human nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, and a bachelor's degree in English from University of Illinois at Springfield. He also earned his Certified Food Scientist credential from the Institute of Food Technologists.

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