Life Expansion: Toward an Artistic, Design-Based Theory of the Transhuman / Posthuman
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The thesis’ study of life expansion proposes a framework for artistic, design-based approaches concerned with prolonging human life and sustaining personal identity. To delineate the topic: life expansion means increasing the length of time a person is alive and diversifying the matter in which a person exists. For human life, the length of time is bounded by a single century and its matter is tied to biology. Life expansion is located in the domain of human enhancement, distinctly linked to technological interfaces with biology. The thesis identifies human-computer interaction and the potential of emerging and speculative technologies as seeding the promulgation of human enhancement that approach life expansion. In doing so, the thesis constructs an inquiry into historical and current attempts to append human physiology and intervene with its mortality. By encountering emerging and speculative technologies for prolonging life and sustaining personal identity as possible media for artistic, design-based approaches to human enhancement, a new axis is sought that identifies the transhuman and posthuman as conceptual paradigms for life expansion. The thesis asks: What are the required conditions that enable artistic, design-based approaches to human enhancement that explicitly pursue extending human life? This question centers on the potential of the study’s proposed enhancement technologies in their relationship to life, death, and the human condition. Notably, the thesis investigates artistic approaches, as distinct from those of the natural sciences, and the borders that need to be mediated between them. The study navigates between the domains of life extension, art and design, technology, and philosophy in forming the framework for a theory of life expansion. The critical approach seeks to uncover invisible borders between these interconnecting forces by bringing to light issues of sustaining life and personal identity, ethical concerns, including morphological freedom and extinction risk. Such issues relate to the thesis’ interest in life expansion and the use emerging and speculative technologies. 4 The study takes on a triad approach in its investigation: qualitative interviews with experts of the emerging and speculative technologies; field studies encountering research centers of such technologies; and an artistic, autopoietic process that explores the heuristics of life expansion. This investigation forms an integrative view of the human use of technology and its melioristic aim. The outcome of the research is a theoretical framework for further research in artistic approaches to life expansion.
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