Tag Archives: Rick Moss

Downfall

The Downfall of Humanity

Author: Shane Stone

“I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots”
Albert Einstein

Archaeologists like Nancy Tanner suggest that the creation of tools lead to bipedalism. They believe that for early humans to use tools they would need complete use of their hands; the only way to constantly have hand freedom is through bipedalism. This theory has even been supported through an anecdotal observation made by Jane Goodall, during which chimpanzees using tools moved by bipedalism (Tanner 1981). Since that time tools and technology have been a significant aspect of humanity’s culture. Mummies are found buried with ancient technology and people today do not leave their homes without their cell phones (Saenz 2013). Even in the time of Aristotle, he predicted that there would be further progressions in technology resulting in self-operating lutes and looms (Lanier 34). As technology continues to develop and become a more integral part of our society, humanity must consider a question: Will technology be the downfall of humanity? Our reliance on technology is apparent in how lost you may feel when you are without your cell phone or without service. With technology becoming more integral, humanity’s reliance grows, leaving this looming question. Today, most of society embraces technology and sees it as a promising horizon. Scientists foresee the use of robots and artificial intelligence in healthcare, industry, and service (“Domain-Specific Robotics Research” 2010). IBM’s Watson is capable of scanning and storing information, and then applying it to specific individuals and situations. Currently, Watson is being used in medicine and in November 2013, IBM announced that Watson would now be open to developers.

Picture sourced from: http://www.popsci.com/blog-network/zero-moment/cognitive-computing-all-ibm-releases-legion-watsons
Picture sourced from: http://www.popsci.com/blog-network/zero-moment/cognitive-computing-all-ibm-releases-legion-watsons

As this technology develops and introduced into society’s daily lives, the opportunity for Karel Čapek’s prediction to come true becomes more likely. In his 1921 play, Rossum’s Universal Robots, Capek foreshadows the potential fate of technology as “the product of the human brain [that] has escaped the control of human hands” (Čapek 1921). Despite this warning, humanity proceeds in its plans to develop and integrate technology into all aspects of life. Through this paper, the potential effects of technology will be explored by analyzing science fiction novels and movies and comparing these fictional worlds to today’s technological situation. Taking these fictional worlds into consideration, as well the opinions of academics in the fields of futurism, physics, and singularity, the effect of technology on the long term wellbeing of humanity will be determined.

The Threat of Technology from Novels

neuro
Image from http://www.select.art.br/article/da_hora/mente-conectada

In William Gibson’s Neuromancer the importance of technology on everyday life as well as the strength of artificial intelligence is realized. The reader is introduced to the protagonist, Case, who lives an apparently meaningless life. However, the reader learns that his life was different before, when he was able to “jack in” and enter into cyberspace. He is no longer able to “jack in” because a previous employer altered his body to prevent it. Because he was so dependent on his connection with technology, being cut off from it drove him into depression. Eventually, he undergoes a second procedure that allows him to reunite with the cyberspace he had grown so fond of. When he finally reenters “he [is] laughing…tears of release” (Gibson 52).  Additionally, Wintermute and Neuromancer, two artificial intelligence interfaces, demonstrate the power and influence of artificial intelligence. When General Corto was left in a catatonic state, no treatment proves successful until Wintermute “pull[s] him out of it” (95). Wintermute is able to control Corto for years until he attempts to regain control, at which point Wintermute kills him. When Case first discusses artificial intelligence with Molly he explains to her that most “Aren’t much smarter than dogs” (95) but Neuromancer acts as a counter this case when he reveals to Case how even his creator “couldn’t imagine what I’d be like” (269). Both artificial intelligence units demonstrate the potential power technology could have over man. Though Neuromancer is a work of fiction, some of the technology in the book is similar to some of the advances in today’s technology. For example, Molly is participating in what is known as Transhumanism, an idea and practice in today’s society that suggests that the “human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations by means of science and technology” (“What is Transhumanism?” 2013). People have already begun to make alterations to themselves like Molly, but they are referred to as Cyborgs, and have enhanced hearing and vision, metabolic enhancement, and brain computer interfaces (“Technology Powered Superhumans” 2013). Case is able to utilize Molly’s improvements to access her sensorium. In doing so he is able to see and feel what she does, but is unable to effectively communicate with her. Technology like this is not too distant from today either. The Nicolelis Lab at Duke University has suggested that the rubber hand illusion (RHI) can be developed in primates. The RHI suggests that subjects can “develop a sense of ownership of a mannequin hand when they view it being touched while tactile stimuli are simultaneously applied to their own hand” (Shokur et al 2013). Using this concept Shokur et al found that a monkey responded similarly to mannequin and actual manipulation. This parallels what Case felt with Molly. Their experience even inspired a game where two players work together to achieve a task in the physical world only using the information available to Case. One player performs the role of Molly and physically moves, while the player acting as Case has the information needed to communicate by alternating a screen between red and green. Combining these technologies would effectively recreate what occurs in Neuromancer. As some technological aspects of Neuromancer come to fruition, it makes sense that other technology from the book, like artificial intelligence, may also come to fruition.

Rick Moss creates a reality similar to our own in the Ebocloud where humanity has passed Facebook and is now entranced by Ebocloud, an online community where people have been assigned to Ebos or tribes based on a detailed questionnaire applicants fill out to become members. As the system grows it becomes enrooted in society and Ebos become an important part of off-line life. Eventually a new technology is introduced that connects Ebo members’ brains to the cloud. It allows them to know when Ebo members are nearby and to sync themselves to applications on digital devices. Throughout the novel the reader is left to believe all of the advancements are just to enhance the system, but upon the book’s conclusion Radu, Ebocloud’s creator, explains what he is trying to achieve. Over the next few decades, he plans to introduce new technologies to ease them into it and to eventually “[take] humans forward along their evolutionary pathway” (Moss 434). According to Radu, this evolutionary pathway is driven by humanity’s drive to be a part of a meta-system; the connections established by the tattoos are just the first step of development (434). In the epilogue the reader is privy to how the program has developed further. El, the novel’s protagonist, discusses with Jared about how he “came back off the cloud” which suggests that the cloud has

Image from: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ebocloud-rick-moss/1100075558
Image from: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ebocloud-rick-moss/1100075558

become similar to the matrix of Neuromancer in that users can enter and exit this virtual world. Though such technology seems farfetched the preliminary steps to creating it exist today. In the Nicolelis Lab, they have created the first brain to brain interface that allows for semi motor information to be shared between two rat brains, which is analogous to members of the same Ebo sensing each other. Additionally, tattoos are already being created to connect humans to technology and allow control over them. In fact, Google has already applied for a patent on one such technology that would utilize sub vocalizations to allow wearer to communicate silently and wirelessly. Chris Grayson, an augmented reality expert, predicts that in the future first responders will be able to make sense out of what is happening upon arrival at an incident by using some form of map overlay. Using the digital tattoos, an app called “Helping Hand” is developed in Ebocloud to allow for just that response.  In terms of the life presented in Ebocloud, Moss is not the first writer to consider applying ebos to American society. In a 1997 interview, fiction writer Kurt Vonnegut suggested that expanding the family unit to create extended families would resolve problems in American culture, including divorce rate. However, not all academics are like minded. Aristotle believed that humans interacted with other humans out of necessity not desire, and would rather be alone (Rackham 1932). Jaron Lanier, an American writer and computer scientist, defends Aristotle’s position citing how Roman generals were reward after years of fighting with land so that the remainder of their days could be spent left alone. Lanier even cites the American government’s utilizations of this same technique by offering settlers the same prospect if they moved out West (Lanier 35). If people desire to interact with others such a reward would not be so enticing.

Rainbow’s End, a Vernor Vinge novel, also presents a world that appears to be not so distant from our own. Citizens wear contact lens that allows the wearer to interact with the digital world and augment reality with visual layers. More simply, they are a more developed and advanced Google Glass. Rather than verbally commanding it, wearers are able to mentally control what their lens achieve. This novel perhaps best suggests how society could proceed because the technology is so similar to modern devices; in this world users can message each other silently on the lens just as users of Google Glass can today. In the novel, with the advances in technology, some adults, even a Nobel Prize winner, are considered worthless because of their inability to successfully utilize the new lens technology. This is mirrored by today’s world where nearly half of all jobs require computer literacy, and that number is expected to increase. Currently, studies suggest that 82% of adults are computer literate and only 54% of seniors are capable. Considering this, the job market becomes more challenging for adults and will only get harder as the information age progresses. However, the most troubling aspect of the Rainbow’s End reality is that code can reproduce. Though this may not seem like a problem, French Archeologist André Leroi-Gourhan believes that “once Homosapiens had equipped such machines with the mechanical ability to reproduce themselves, there would be nothing left for the human to do but withdraw into the paleontological twilight” (Leroi-Gourhan 248). If this is the case then humanity is in trouble because according to a NASA study, robot self-replication is a matter of engineering, and really does not require more technology than is already available today. NASA is hopeful this technology will lead to colonization in space, but this is not necessarily as good for humanity as they may anticipate.

The Threat of Technology from Movies

Beyond these literary works, there are films that focus on the theme of technology being the downfall of humanity. For example the 2004 film I, Robot takes place in 2035 where robots act as servants to humanity. These robots are based upon the 3 Laws of Robotics that Isaac Asimov introduced in his 1942 short story “Runaround.” According to these laws:

1)   “A Robot must never harm a human being or, through inaction, allow any harm to come to a human

2)   A robot must obey the orders given to them by human beings, except where such orders violate the First Law

3)   A robot must protect its own existence unless this violates the First or Second Laws” (Asimov 1982)

With these laws in place, it is believed that humans and robots will be able to seamlessly coexist. However, when an artificial intelligence unit for US Robots (a robot manufacturer) interprets the laws in a new way, things go wrong. The unit, called VIKI, realizes that humans are too self-destructive, and that for humanity as a whole to be saved some people must be killed. Fortunately, in this film humanity gets lucky because Will Smith’s character with the help of a robot figures it out, and stops her. Nonetheless, if a similar situation were to occur in today’s society would someone realize in time to stop the robots?

In other films like WALL-E and The Matrix no one is able to stop the robots initially, and it takes a couple centuries for humans to take back control. Of the movies discussed The Matrix seems the most like a warning to humanity because it “takes place” when the movie was released, in 1999. In actuality the film takes place in 2699, but most of humanity is trapped in the late 20th century. It is more from the prequels, housed in the short film collection The Animatrix that insight is given into how humanity in The Matrix film gave way to robots. According to the Matrix’s history, told in the short film The Second Renaissance, at the end of the 20th century humanity celebrated the creation of

Image from: http://www.comicvine.com/forums/battles-7/kilg-re-vs-neo-matrix-1494633/
Image from: http://www.comicvine.com/forums/battles-7/kilg-re-vs-neo-matrix-1494633/

artificial intelligence and robots. Then, a robot named B166-ER killed its owner which resulted in a robot rights movement. In the end, all robots were ordered to be decommissioned. Rather than be destroyed, they left to establish their own nation called nation 01. As a result of robot efficiency they dominated the economy and became a threat to humanity. In response, the human nations attempted to attack nation 01 with nuclear weapons but the robots were not as affected as anticipated. After being threatened the robots went on the offensive and after much success attempted to negotiate with the United Nations, and were rejected. As a last resort, the nations joined together to block the sun, thereby cutting off the robots energy source. Although the humans were briefly rewarded with this tactic, the robots responded by taking advantage of the energy created by the human body. When the robots ultimately won they turned humans into a crop and harvested energy from humans while keeping their minds occupied in the Matrix. Despite the machine success, the theme of one person changing the world and restoring balance is seen as Neo, the protagonist, ends the 600 years reign of machines by fostering a truce between the sides and making peace. Though these ideas seemed more like fiction than a prediction in 1999, today’s technology could lead to the world similar to The Matrix. If NASA proceeds with its robot space colonization, NASA would be facilitating in the formation of nation 01. If the robots have the ability to reproduce like NASA has suggested then they could develop and challenge Earth’s economy as well. Scientists are also facilitating the robot’s ability to harvest energy from humans in some of today’s energy research. In many modern medical devices, lithium batteries are considered the most effective power source, but scientist are looking for forms of renewable energy. A recent paper has found Glucose Biofuel Cells to be the most promising of these options (Zebda et al 2013), but another group has suggested utilizing the heat humans naturally produce (Dvorsky 2013). The latter, would eerily echo the concepts used by the machines in The Matrix.

WALL-E (2008) takes place in a future where humanity’s disregard for nature resulted in Earth becoming uninhabitable. As a result, in 2105 Buy n’ Large, a corporation, moves humanity from the planet to a ship where they will live until Earth is again habitable. Unfortunately, the viewer learns that in 2110, the ship’s artificial intelligence unit is given a no return directive because Buy n’ Large has given up hope for Earth. The movie, takes place 700 years later in 2805, when humans have lost touch with Earthly lifestyles,

Image from: http://earnthis.net/brian-terrills-100-film-favorites-30-wall-e/
Image from: http://earnthis.net/brian-terrills-100-film-favorites-30-wall-e/

spending their lives in chairs and relying upon robots and automated features of the ship. Christian Journalist, Rod Dreher, explains how in this scenario the viewer sees how their reliance on technology has resulted in the “[loss of] what makes them human” (Dreher 2008). The director, Andrew Stanton, expanded upon this point explaining how the robots eliminated humanity’s need to establish and put effort into relationships. Since the humans aboard the ship’s lives revolved around technology rather than each other they had no need to do this. Luckily, as in I-Robot and The Matrix, a special robot, WALL-E, changes everything and helps to restore balance.

Even in works of science fiction where humanity’s downfall is not a major theme, the technology present in them is not as out of reach as it once seemed. Minority Report is a 2054 science fiction film, based on a short story by Philip K Dick, and a lot of the technology presented in the film is being developed or used today. In the film, a citizen’s biometric data allows corporations to access their government profile so that marketing can be targeted more accurately.

Google is now developing the technology that will utilize environmental sensors so that advertisements on electronic devices will be “targeted ads tailored to fit with what you’re seeing and hearing in the real world” (Whitehead 2012). Also in the film, psychic humans, known as ‘precogs’, are used to predict crime before it happens. Although those humans have yet to be identified today, Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier suggest that big data can be used in such a way so as to make this ‘precrime’ effectively possible. In fact, trends with ethnicity, gender, breathing, and heart rate to predict crimes have been applied in the field, but more work is needed before widespread application occurs. Even one of the most iconic science fiction movies, Star Wars, has inspired an idea among defense systems. Philip Lubin of the University of California Santa Barbara and Gary Hughes of California Polytechnic State University believe that a real life death star could be constructed to defend earth from an oncoming asteroid threats. Since technology from science fiction films that aids humanity has become more available, the technology that destroys humanity must not be too far behind.

The Future

Companies have even realized the potential of science fiction in their development and have reached out to futurists and science fiction writers to work for them. One such example is futurist writer, Alvin Toffler, who has helped IBM, Xerox, and AT&T to facilitate the organizational impacts of computers and to offer strategic advice. Additionally, Intel’s Tomorrow Project explores the world’s possible futures by engaging in discussion based on science-based fiction because they recognize that science fiction can have dramatic changes on the technology of the future. The Creative Science Foundation even holds an annual conference that allows for scientists, designers, and artists from around the globe to discuss and explore the consequences and uses of future technology on society. Finally, and perhaps the most notable, was Google’s hiring of futurist Ray Kurzweil as director of engineering in 2012. This hire not only created buzz for Google, but introduced an expert on machine learning, reading, and talking that can help in their development of future products.

Technology corporations utilizing science fiction in their product development is just another example of the blurred lines between fiction and reality. As this transition continues, the real question is whether or not academics believe the fate of humans in many science fiction films is the fate of today’s society. According to Moore’s Law, the computing power of technology will double every two years (Moore 1965). Extrapolating Moore’s Law, Kurzweil predicts that computing technology will be equivalent to human technology in 2020 and by 2030 Hans Moravec predicts that robots will be a prominent part of society.

Considering that Moore’s Law has been accurate since its creation 50 years ago, and even holds true when you include technology development since the hand cranked computer (therefore 100 total years), Kurzweil’s prediction seems accurate. At this point, Cambridge University philosophy professors believe that computers could become cleverer than humans. As this proceeds it could lead to a scenario similar to what occurs in science fiction movies. According to Lanier’s opinion that “technological culture influences what technologists create” would likely result in a society like WALL-E (Lanier 121). In today’s society obesity has become a bigger health crisis than hunger. With today’s culture being lazier, it would suggest that technology will develop to accommodate this, and slowly but surely would lead to what is seen in WALL-E. In order to visualize the potential progressions of humanity I have created a flowchart. These progressions are based on what happens in WALL-E, I,Robot, and The Matrix, so it is not every possible scenario, but one a few. If this is the case then humanity should adhere to Murphy’s Law and recognize that would could go wrong will go wrong, and unless someone comes along to save humanity (like in I, Robot, The Matrix, and WALL-E), should prepare for the worst.

Flow Chart made with bubble.us
Flow Chart made with bubble.us
Interact by following this link: https://bubbl.us/?h=1c647e/391a34/18PZPh7OTTkhA

In actuality it appears as if humanity is actually not in danger. According to Gordon Moore, the creator of Moore’s Law, the exponential development “can’t continue forever” and academics like Kurzweil are applying his law incorrectly. Moore intended for his rule to apply to semiconductor circuits, not all technology. The reason why it cannot continue forever though is physics. Currently silicon is the best material for creating circuits, and according to theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, the transistors will eventually generate so much heat that the chip will melt and electrons will be lost.

However what may be the most convincing is the argument made by Singularity Hub writer Aaron Saenz. He explains how the robots that humanity has come to fear are no more than Hollywood using robots as symbolism of human worries. Terminator represents the communist fears of the 1980s, the Decepticons represent the energy crisis, and The Matrix machines represent the fear of global warming. Although some of the threats are propaganda, other threats, such as a large robot workforce, continue to frighten human workers. Since 2008, the amount of automated robots being used in the industry has increased nearly 50% and recent studies have suggested that nearly 50% of today’s jobs could be achieved by machines. According to Edward Leamer, director the UCLA Anderson School of Management, “if you have nothing to offer the job market that cannot be supplied better and cheaper by machines… plan on doing low wage service.” Even low wage service is threatened because companies like Foxconn, that already offer low wage service, are starting to utilize more robots. As more robots enter the work force, the threat of unemployment appears to increase. However, threats of a robot run economy and false ideas created by Hollywood are nullified by Saenz’s main point, “we own technology” (Saenz 2013). As long as we are aware of the capabilities of technology and maintain the correct safeguards, humanity has a better chance of being destroyed by a nuclear winter than by technology.

Works Consulted

Animatrix. Dir. Mahiro Maeda. Warner Home Video, 2003.

Aristotle, and H. Rackham. The Politics,. London: W. Heinemann, 1932. Print.

Asimov, Isaac. The Complete Robot. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1982. Print.

Barrie, Allison. “Massive, Orbital Laser Blaster Could Defend against Asteroid Threats.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 19 Feb. 2013. Web. <http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/02/19/massive-orbital-laser-blaster-could-defend-against-asteroid-threats/>.

Choi, Charles Q. “Temporary Tattoos Could Make Electronic Telepathy and Telekinesis Possible.” Io9. N.p., 20 Feb. 2013. Web. <http://io9.com/5985558/temporary-tattoos-could-make-electronic-telepathy-and-telekinesis-possible>.

Dignan, Larry. “Google Hires Kurzweil: A Look at the Returns.” ZDNet. Between the Lines, 15 Dec. 2012. Web. <http://www.zdnet.com/google-hires-kurzweil-a-look-at-the-returns-7000008844/>.

“Domain-Specific Robotics Research.” IFTF: Robot Renaissance Domain Papers. Institute for the Future, 2010. Web. <http://www.iftf.org/our-work/people-technology/technology-horizons/robot-renaissance/robot-renaissance-domain-papers/>.

Dreher, Rob. “Wall-E.” Beliefnet. July 2008.

Dubash, Manek. “Moore’s Law Is Dead, Says Gordon Moore.” TechWorld Rss. N.p., 13 Apr. 2005. Web. <http://news.techworld.com/operating-systems/3477/moores-law-is-dead-says-gordon-moore/>.

Dvorsky, George. “A Chip That Turns Your Body into a Battery.” Io9.com. Io9, 15 Jan. 2013. Web. <http://io9.com/5976148/a-chip-that-turns-your-body-into-a-battery?tag=futurism>.

Garcia, Cecilia. “New Digital-Divide Campaign Would Leave Seniors Behind.” Growing Older, Getting Poorer. New America Media, 25 Mar. 2013. Web. <http://newamericamedia.org/2013/03/new-digital-divide-campaign-would-leave-seniors-behind.php>.

Gibson, William. Neuromancer. New York, NY: Ace, 2004. Print.

Gross, Doug. “Google Patenting an Electronic ‘throat Tattoo'” CNN. Cable News Network, 13 Nov. 2013. Web. <http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/12/tech/innovation/google-throat-tattoo/index.html>.

How to Stop Robots From Killing Us. Perf. Michio Kaku. Youtube. The Big Think, 31 May 2011. Web. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPVOPzYiCeg>.

Hui, Sylvia. “Cambridge to Study Technology’s Risk to Humans.” NBC News. Associated Press, 25 Nov. 2012. Web. <http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/cambridge-study-technologys-risk-humans-1C7206889>.

I, Robot. Dir. Alex Proyas. Perf. Will Smith. Davis Entertainment, 2004. Film.

Lanier, Jaron. Who Owns the Future? New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013. Print.

Leroi-Gourhan, André. Gesture and Speech. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1993. Print.

The Matrix. Prod. Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski. Dir. Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski. By Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski. Perf. Keanu Reeves. Village Roadshow Pictures, 1999.

Moore, G.E. “Cramming More Components Onto Integrated Circuits.” Proceedings of the IEEE 86.1 (1965): 82-85. Print.

Moss, Rick. Ebocloud. New Orleans: Aqueous, 2013. Print.

Olympian. “State Libraries, Microsoft Will Hone Computer Skills.” The Olympian [Olympia] 15 Nov. 2013, Opinion sec.: n. pag. Print.

Pais-Vieira, M., Lebedev, M., Kunicki, C., Wang, J. & Nicolelis, M.A.L. A Brain-to-Brain Interface for Real-Time Sharing of Sensorimotor Information. Sci. Rep. 3, 1319; DOI:10.1038/srep01319 (2013).

Robo-everything, 2008 DVD featurette, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.

Rothman, Peter. “Technology Powered Superhumans.” H Magazine. N.p., 21 Nov. 2013. Web. <http://hplusmagazine.com/2013/11/21/technology-powered-superhumans/>.

Rothman, Peter. “What Is Transhumanism?” H+ Magazine, 22 Nov. 2013. Web. <http://hplusmagazine.com/2013/11/22/what-is-transhumanism/>.

Saenz, Aaron. “Welcoming Your New Robot Overlords.” Singularity Hub. N.p., 16 July 2013`. Web. <http://singularityhub.com/2013/07/16/welcoming-your-new-robot-overlords/>.

Sofge, Erik. “Cognitive Computing For All: IBM Releases a Legion of Watsons.” Zero Movement. Popular Science, 14 Nov. 2013. Web. <http://www.popsci.com/blog-network/zero-moment/cognitive-computing-all-ibm-releases-legion-watsons>.

Tanner, Nancy Makepeace. On Becoming Human. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1981. Print.

Toffler, Alvin. “The Partnership.” Biography of Alvin+Heidi Toffler. Alvin+Heidi Toffler- Futurists, 2013. Web. <http://www.alvintoffler.net/?fa=biospartnership>.

“The Tomorrow Project.” Intel, n.d. Web. <http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/research/tomorrow-project/the-tomorrow-project.html>.

Vinge, Vernor. Rainbows End. New York: Tor, 2006. Print.

Vonnegut, Kurt, Jr. “Interview with Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Sept., 1997.” Interview by Clifford L. Meth. Interviews. Clifford Meth, 2004. Web. <http://www.cliffordmeth.com/methonvonnegut.htm>.

WALL-E. Dir. Andrew Stanton. By Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, and Jeff Garlin. Prod. Jim Morris. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, 2008.

Whitehead, John W. “Minority Report: Ten Years Later, Fiction Has Become Reality.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 17 Sept. 2012. Web. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-w-whitehead/technology-surveillance_b_1854117.html>.

Zebda, A. et al. Single Glucose Biofuel Cells Implanted in Rats Power Electronic Devices. Sci. Rep. 3, 1516; DOI:10.1038/srep01516 (2013).

Thank you to Amanda Gould, my classmates, friends and the staff at the Duke University Writing Studio for helping me to complete my final assignment.

Biological Art

Amelogenesis (Im)Perfecta  SymbioticA, University of Western Australia 24
                 Amelogenesis (Im)Perfecta SymbioticA, University of Western Australia 24

Biological Art: The Next Frontier in Art or an Ethical Disaster?

Author: Sheel Patel

Contemporary biological art, defined as the usage of live tissues, organisms, and life processes to produce artistic pieces is creating things like living literary organisms and glowing rabbits. This could not have taken place without the surge of biotechnology and genetic manipulation that has become common in today’s scientific world. The implications that surround this technology are vast and truly show why Bioart is such a powerful, yet controversial topic today. We have now entered a time in society when artificial genes can be inserted into progeny in order to display certain characteristics. Where frozen sperm cells of a diseased father can be used to fertilize an egg and produce offspring, years after the death of the donor. What happens if someone learns and decides to control genetic manipulation and begins to hold physical and political power? Ideas and innovations like these are currently at our fingertips and the ethical issues stemming from them are equally important to talk about. Surrounding bioart is a sea of controversy and drama. Without a pure definition of what the art entails, the room for public outrage and controversy is high. Through good implementations of bioart one can see the vast benefits a living medium has in art, but through highly controversial implementations one can see the possibly detrimental side. Society must decided where to draw the line. This essay will examine the benefits bioart brings in projecting messages to its viewers along with the detriments and ethical dilemmas it raises, in order to interrogate the use of biotechnology outside of the scientific community. It will delve into this interrogation by considering many different forms of bioart including DNA bioart, body augmentation bioart, and biometric art visualization and their effects, positive and negative, on the viewers and the ethical issues they bring up.

BioArt: A loose definition

Before delving into the ethical quandaries and artistic innovations that Biological Art entails, we must view the evolution of this art form and its definition and boundaries. General art must be defined in order to see the characteristics bioart shares with the broad field and where it may differ. Webster’s Dictionary defines “Art” as “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” From this definition it can be inferred that art is generally not seen to serve a functional purpose, like many scientific discoveries, rather it is to serve an aesthetic purpose and relay emotional messages to the viewer. Bioart seems to be breaking down this static definition of art with some of its implementations. According to Eduardo Kac, a contemporary artist and BioArtist, bio art employs one or more of the following approaches: “(1) the coaching of bio-materials into specific inert shapes or behaviors; (2) the unusual or subversive use of biotech tools and processes; and (3) the invention or transformation of living organisms with or without social or environmental integration”.1 This third characteristic is the most interesting as we delve deeper into using biotechnology and it is easy to see the ethical dilemmas that Bioart faces. Why is bioart such a growing sector of art and why is it so powerful? It’s power inherently lies from the versatility of the media bioart uses and the affordances that come with these different media.

Revolutionary transitions in media and technology have always brought about new ways for artists to express themselves, the most evident being the transition from radio (audio) to television and video. The same can be said with the immense surge in Biotechnology in the past few decades. Techniques like genetic cloning, efficient genome mapping, and advanced knowledge of protein synthesis are just some of the major advances science has made in recent years. These advancements in Biotechnology have opened up a plethora of opportunities for artists to exploit, using their full creative potentials. The options are limitless and many scientific boundaries that were thought to be static have already been broken. For example, it was well documented that Human DNA is comprised of 4 distinct nitrogenous bases that encoded genes, and life. Scientists have already produced unnatural forms of DNA, effectively expanding the number of bases from the well-known four to six. Other examples are the creation of novel amino acids leading to the creation of unnatural proteins.2 Examples such as these are just a few of the vast number of innovations science has opened up to biological artists.

Historical Trajectories

Bioartists literally work with living media, dubbed Biomedia, and produce living creations and forms of art that were previously impossible to do. Although it may seem very recent, Bioart and its biotechnological foundation has stemmed from centuries of experimentation. Bioart has morphed completely throughout history as our understanding of biology has increased. This metamorphosis has led this art form into facing larger ethical issues than those early bioartists faced. Today it is very well believed that life is ‘plastic’ and that it can be manipulated in many ways through the usage of biological science techniques.7 But this idea was slowly uncovered, dating back thousands of years BCE in Ancient China, where grafting was used as an agricultural technique. Grafting, or the idea of taking a part of one plant species and homogenizing it to grow with another, was used by the Botanist Theophrastos in 325 BCE to grow ‘hybrid’ plants.2 This can be seen as one of the first usages of genetic modifications, which today have evolved to genetically modifying humans themselves. The foundations of bioart itself began to make its way onto artists pallets in the 16th century with artists around the world painting portraits and paintings of people and figures that intersected the boundaries between ‘traditional beauty’ and the ‘true human form.’ Examples of this could be seen in the piece titled Portrait of a Girl Covered in Hair (1594) by artist Lavinia Fontana and The Bearded Woman Breastfeeding (1631) by Jusepe de Ribera.

The Bearded Woman Breastfeeding (1631) by Jusepe de Ribera
The Bearded Woman Breastfeeding (1631) by Jusepe de Ribera 18

Both of these pieces showcased models with hormonal syndromes and their effects on the body, but were revered in the art community.14 Although they do not seem to fit with the contemporary definition of bioart, a definition consisting of physical biological manipulations and modifications, these pieces served as stepping stones to what could be done with biology with the proper knowledge and technology. A larger jump to actually modifying living materials for artistic purposes was taken by Edward Steichen in 1936, during his groundbreaking exhibition of flowers that he had created at the Museum of Modern Art. With this exhibit, Steichen was the first modern artist to create a new living organism by using both traditional botanical methods and artificial methods. He created new flowers by hybridizing them by hand and using specific chemicals to cause mutations to their genes and thus invoke specific alterations to their appearances.14 This was a large step in stating that genetics and gene/biological manipulation could be used as a viable art medium. The next step in Biological art could be seen in the use of live animals to actually be part of the art itself or in the first case, create the art. In 1910, the journalist Roland Dorgeles successfully created three oil paintings that were created by a donkey who had a paint brush attached to its tail.4 Other examples of animals in art were seen in some Salvador Dali exhibits that used shark and other animal heads, superimposed on a mannequins body.14 Again like the hormonal syndrome oil paintings, these pieces do not necessarily fit the contemporary definition of bioart, rather they serve as precursors to bioart by integrating animals into the art-making processes.

Portrait of a Girl Covered in Hair (1594) by Lavinia Fontana
Portrait of a Girl Covered in Hair (1594) by Lavinia Fontana 19

The use of bodily fluids also dates back to the 19th century. In the 1960’s, blood and urine were used as a main component in paintings describing Vienna Actionism. The most famous example could be seen with Andy Warhol who created a series of “Oxidation Paintings,” in which he utilized a reaction between a copper based paint and his own urine.14

Examples in Contemporary Literature and Society

DNA BioArt

The beauty and effectiveness of contemporary biological art lies in its versatility. Its ability to use and manipulate a wide range media, allows bioart to extend various messages to its viewers. But this versatility and manipulation also lends itself to the ethical controversies that bioart faces in today’s society. Some of the most interesting contemporary examples of BioArt can be seen through the manipulation of the human body and genome. In one of his most famous experiments entitled ‘Genesis’, Eduardo Kac explores the relationship between biology, religion, information technology, and ethics. The methods of the experiment consisted of Kac synthesizing his own gene by translating a verse from the biblical book of Genesis. This gene was then translated into Morse Code and the code was converted into the a sequence of the four canonical base pairs: ‘A’,’T’,’C’, and ‘G.’ The translated sentence taken from Genesis read, “Let man have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”15 This was chosen due to its message regarding man’s inherent control over nature and the sentence is very fitting with the overall objective of Kac’s experiment.

Outline of Genesis by Eduardo Kac
Outline of Genesis by Eduardo Kac23

The gene was then transformed or transferred into a bacteria cell line, and the cell line was allowed to proliferate, and thus mutate, before the gene was extracted back and resequenced to view the changes. The ‘mutated sentence’ read “Let aan have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the are and over every living this that ioves ua eonn the earth.” 15 The purpose of this piece is much more symbolic than it is aesthetically pleasing. With the mutation of this sentence, Kac showcases the idea that the inherent meanings of things that we experience and read are often plastic, they often change and mold over time just as nature does. Another equally interesting genomic BioArt piece can be seen through the piece titled ‘Xenotext’ by Christian Bök. In the nine year long experiment, Bök has been attempting to write a short verse of poetry and translate it into a gene, a very similar process to what Kac did in his piece. The difference with this piece is that when the gene is integrated into a living cell, the cells will inherently produce a novel protein that can be further transformed from progeny to progeny and continue to change and mutate as the generations grow. Thus, Bök will not only have created a medium in which to store his original poem, but also have created a mechanism or ‘biological’ machine that can write new poetry by itself.9 This piece has very interesting implications in the realm of poetry and literature, which is why it has had such a large impact in BioArt. If a living cell can be cultured to spit out and produce novel poetry, could we eventually live in a society where humans are no longer needed to produce new thoughts, and works of literature?

Deinococcus radiodurans, the transformed bacterium used in Christian Bok's experiment
Deinococcus radiodurans, the transformed bacterium used in Christian Bök’s experiment 21

As Bök says, ‘a poet might become a breed of technician working in a linguistic laboratory.’9 The other interesting idea stemming from this piece is the storage of ideas. Has Bök come across an eternal medium? Using living cells, bacteria, or parasites to ‘hold’ messages in its genetic code could be a way to make sure that a message lives forever, even after civilization has crumbled.

Body Augmentation BioArt

The idea of BioArt has been talked about in literature since the dawn of the science fiction genre. The idea of using or modifying one’s body to express oneself has been a fascination for science fiction writers. This can explicitly be seen in the novel Neuromancer by William Gibson. Neuromancer details a society where biological art and bodily modifications have taken over, and have augmented the line between reality and cyberspace.16 With humans being modified with both biological and mechanical enhancements, the society transforms into a population that feeds off of jacking into cyberspace or altering their minds in reality.15 Bioart can be seen everywhere in the novel, where people have modified and altered their bodies to an almost unrecognizable form. An example can be seen with the character Molly Millions, who through extensive surgeries has acquired prosthetics, fingernail implants, and mental switches that render her a ‘super-ninja’ assassin. This can be seen when the main character Case, a computer hacker/cowboy, meets Molly for the first time. He notes, “She held out her hands, palms up, the white fingers slightly spread, and with a barely audible click, ten double-edged, four-centimeter scalpel blades slid from their housings beneath the burgundy nails (Gibson Chapt 1).” Her biological modifications serve specific purposes, ones that make her efficient in the realms of stealth and combat but many of them are also cosmetic. The idea of biological alterations can also be seen through another character, Julius, who has extensive surgeries done to him, which switch out his DNA and allow him to continue living way past the age of 150. “Julius Deane was one hundred and thirty-five years old, his metabolism assiduously warped by a weekly fortune in serums and hormones. His primary hedge against aging was a yearly pilgrimage to Tokyo, where genetic surgeons re-set the code of his DNA, a procedure unavailable in Chiba (Gibson Chapter 1).”

These examples shown in the novel again detail the convoluted line between bioart and the actual changing of the human form to something that may not be human anymore. To an extent, the bodily modifications on Molly can be considered ‘art,’ in the classical sense that her prosthetics and elongated fingernails serve aesthetic purposes. But these modifications also serve significant functional purposes that allow her to be an assassin, therefore if Molly is an example of bioart, one can see how bioart continues to break the boundaries and redefine the definition of ‘art.’  Other sci-fi examples of this hazy division between bioart and actually changing the human can be seen in the novel Ebocloud by Rick Moss. Ebocloud details a society in which people have become members of a ‘cloud’ society and the idea of loneliness is completely abandoned.17 This works through the setup of ebocloud.com, which when used, allows people to be assigned to ‘ebos’ or groups that serve as pseudo-families and strive for humanitarian gains. The purpose of establishing these close-knit networks is to work with other people to build a better planet (Moss 57). Unlike Facebook, “ebocloud pulls you out of yourself rather than competing for who has the most friends” (Moss 203).  Slowly, the cloud continues to expand to a point where people begin adopting “dtoos,” digital tattoos that can map the human brain and send signals to and from the cloud. This is where Bioart can be seen as a feasible extension of the human body that could become a reality in the near future for the majority of people. The digital tattoo not only marks the person’s body for recognition by other people in the same ebo, but it literally can control their brain functioning and alter behavior. This is an example of where biological art can overextend its boundaries and cause some ethical dilemmas. In the novel, many examples of good can be seen extending from ebocloud and the dToos. Examples like the ‘kar-merit’ system, a system that rewards those members who make humanitarian gains and strive to help others. But as the novel progresses, the feasible downfalls of the system are elucidated when the few people controlling the cloud fall into corruption, and begin to control the population through the “dToos.” When biological art extends further from just simply modifying or augmenting the human body’s appearance to actually controlling the way we function and think, it’s easy to see the quandaries that can be caused. Essentially with dToos, all of human knowledge and experience can be pooled into the cloud and projected back, sharing the knowledge with everyone. This leads to an extremely efficient, intelligent, and compassionate human race where everyone is skilled and animosity is essentially eliminated between people. This however, is if the ebocloud was to work perfectly. The ethical issues that are raised generally have to do with the downfalls of a system like ebocloud. What if someone cloud controls the minds of everyone connected to the cloud, and fosters artificial relationships between people, groups, ebos, and nations for ulterior motives? This example from the sci-fi novel Ebocloud by Rick Moss delves into one of the various ethical issues brought up by bioart, caused by the loose definition and undefined boundaries that biological art entails. Both of these sci-fi examples of  bioart do serve a significant purpose, that I believe mirrors the general purpose of actual bioart. By showcasing futuristic examples of biological modifications in humans and their possible ramifications, bioart and fictional representations of bioart, draw attention to the way that the human race is moving. This idea that has been relayed in science fiction novels may become reality in the near future. According to CNN, scientists at Google have created digital tattoos of their own that, when implanted in the neck, could allow users to relay messages and signals to their smartphones without needing a headset.

A patent for Google's neck 'tattoo' 6
          A patent for Google’s neck ‘tattoo’  6

Ideas like ‘dToos’ from Ebocloud and actual prototypes of similar tattoos from Google show what society could be like if we continue to technologically evolve and modify the biological aspects that make us human. And they exhibit what humans and our society could transform into if the line, between bioart and significant human modification, is not drawn.

Biometric Art Visualization

As shown, bioart spans a wide range of disciplines and can incorporate a wide variety of media in order to get specific messages across to the viewer. One of these messages could be to inform or detail a serious medical condition, unknown to most people. This was the goal in the seizure visualization piece I created. Seizures affect millions of people around the world and can be very harmful to normal bodily function and can in some cases even cause death. The aim of this project is to visualize the occurrence of seizures using Electroencephalograph (EEG) data. By visualizing this data through music, one can vividly hear the effect a seizure has on a patient’s brain and how large of an impact it has on normal brain function.

Raw EEG Data
                              Raw EEG Data

 The piece consists of open source EEG data of a patient who underwent a seizure during a recording session. The EEG data was taken and read using EDFbrowser, and was converted into a “wav” file for further analysis. Of the 40 minute EEG clip, a 30 second clip of the seizure activity was taken and converted into the “wav” file. After conversion, the “wav” file was able to be read by a host of audio editing programs including Audacity, an open source editing platform. Using Audacity, the “wav” file EEG data was able to be visualized and converted into a sound wave which could then be translated into a MIDI file and thus be converted into audible music. In order to do this, the program WidiPro was used which is windows-based software that takes recorded music in an assortment of formats, and translates it into a MIDI file by recognizing individual notes through the audio’s waveform and pitch spectrum. As shown in the audio file of the clip, during the seizure activity there is a drastic change in the pitches, volume, and frequencies of the notes.

EEG converted into a WAV File
              EEG converted into a WAV File

The notes seem to become more sporadic and disorganized which signifies the severity and overall chaos that occurs in the brain during a seizure. This can further be visualized through the audio visualizer that was utilized to play the final translated audio file. However, there were many limitations to this bioart piece. Widipro software was designed to analyze and translate general music in the audible frequency spectrum, therefore when analyzing a “wav” file converted from EEG data, the program had difficulty picking up on and recognizing majority do the file.

WAV file transcribed by WidiPro
           WAV file transcribed by WidiPro

In future pieces, it would be beneficial to create and write a tailor-made program specific to analyzing EEG data. Nevertheless, this piece aims to do what most bioart pieces set to do in taking an unusual biological medium, in this case EEG data, and re-mediate and re-visualize it to show the reader a pattern that may not have been seen before. Through the sheer sporadic changes in pitch, volume, and the ominous thrashing of keyboard keys the viewer can distinctly see the dangers people who suffer from seizures face and the internal neurological mechanisms that go awry. This biometric visualization serves as a different representation of bioart, a representation that is not as invasive in the sense of altering DNA or the physical body. It takes biometric signals radiated from the human body and exhibits a pattern for the untrained person, in order to show the destructive power of a traumatic neural event. Again, this serves the major goal of bioart in uncovering unseen patterns from biological data, modifications, etc. and using these patterns to portray a message to the viewer.

Darker side of BioArt

With an understanding of what bioart entails and the multitude of characteristics and mediums that it can use, one can see the power it holds. With its often grotesque and novel nature, the messages biological art can portray are often shocking and eye opening and it is a very efficient and creative form of art. But with these positives comes the darker side of biological art and the ethical dilemmas biological artists must face. Manipulating living organisms of any kind, as with the pieces by artists like Kac and Bök, inherently dives into the ethical issues of life, death, and the motives of doing such experiments. Often people become nervous when hearing about bioart or biotechnology, as Terminator-esque visions of the future fill their minds. French philosopher Michel Foucault was one of the first to address the issue of bioethics and what experiments in the bioart field along with biotechnology in general may entail. Foucault argues, ‘‘the emergence of the health and physical well-being of the population in general’’ becomes ‘‘one of the essential objectives of political power.’’11 He believes that with the continued manipulation of biology and biotechnology, something many biological artists are doing, we may develop into a world where political power stems from being able to control or manipulate the physical and mental health of a population. This is an issue that could be seen in the novel Ebocloud by Rick Moss, that was discussed previously. With the power to control virtually anybody with the ‘dToo’ or biological tattoo, political power could be seen in the hands of those who controlled the biological power. In that case, biological power directly correlated to political power and power over a large population of people. Along with the ethical issue of directing power through biological technology, one of the largest issues with bioart is the idea that living organisms are being manipulated for the sake of art and aesthetics. Many people view bioart as an unnecessary use of living organisms compared to scientific research, which has the goal of improving the quality of peoples’ lives. Bioart is often considered unethical by scholars because of the purely aesthetic nature behind it. Professor Frances Stracey of University College London believes this and states, “Bio-art is least successful, and most contentious, when the science is reduced to mere aesthetic spectacle, and no account is taken of the specific or paradigmatic differences that affect how one discipline is mediated through another.” 8 He details this aesthetically driven problem of bioart and expresses his concern on the matter.

Examples of Ethical Controversy

So where can we draw the line? Where does biological art over-extend its boundaries and become a public indecency and cause detriment to its viewers rather than conveying a significant point? Questions like these are at the front lines of the bioart field and they can only be answered by looking at the past and reflecting on previous art pieces or by speculating the future in the way novels like Neuromancer and Ebocloud have. The two sides of this debate can be seen through the art exhibitions of Gunther von Hagens, a physician and anatomy lecturer at the University of Heidelberg in 1998 and Rick Gibson in 1984. In 1998, the State Museum of Technology and Labor in Mannheim, Germany displayed Von Hagens exhibit titled, Koperwelten or “The Human Body World.”

Koperwelten by Gunther Von Hagens 20
    Koperwelten by Gunther Von Hagens 20

The exhibit consisted of over two hundred preserved human cadavers along with their body parts that were prepared through a special embalming process called plastination. This allowed the bodies and organs to appear as if they were in-vivo. Many of the corpses were displayed to be doing activities such as fencing or jumping and Von Hagens even displayed a 5-month pregnant woman with a fetus in the womb.10 This exhibit sparked a large amount of controversy from both the public and the German Association of Anatomists, who described the show as “perverse and voyeuristic.” In order to deflect controversy away from this, the Mannheim Museum employed medical students to be tour guides of the exhibit and give explanations of the physiology and anatomy behind the exhibit.10 Even with the large amount of community pressure to take down the exhibit, the city of Mannheim refused and stated that “the scientific value” of the exhibit made it worthwhile. This example shows how the boundaries between biological art and science can be convoluted. In this case Von Hagens sought to display the human corpses as art pieces, shown by his use of putting them into different poses. But with the significant controversy stirred up by both academics and the community, the museum had to shift the exhibits image towards the scientific side in order to ease the public. With this example it appears that the public is more likely to accept something that is gruesome, raw, or shocking in nature if it is considered science opposed to it being considered as an art form. This brings up very interesting points in terms of how art should be judged. To what ethical and moral standards should art be judged versus science? This question can be better seen through the 1984 piece by British artist Rick Gibson titled Human Earrings.

Human Earrings by Rick Gibson 22
Human Earrings by Rick Gibson 22

Gibson decided to create a sculpture “to show the place of humans in society and how we treat human beings,” by obtaining and hanging two, rehydrated 10-week old fetuses off of a female mannequin head as earrings.12 Following this exhibit, both Gibson and the owner of the British gallery were prosecuted for ‘outraging public decency.’ Gibson tried to plead that the art was in the public good and should not be prosecuted but this plea was denied and eventually he was fined $875.13 The judge stated that “in a civil society there has to be a restraint on the freedom to act in a way that has an adverse effect on other members of society.” 12 The trial of Rick Gibson provides a very interesting look on biological art and the law along with the divide between bioart and science. Unlike Von Hagens, Gibson did not change the image of his exhibit to appear as it was scientific in nature. Gibson retained the idea that the Human Earrings served an aesthetic purpose in showcasing, in a raw and shocking way, how society treats other human beings. But the ethical issue lies in the way that art should be judged by the law and whether science should be judged in the same manner as well, if there is a distinction. If the piece had been ‘classified’ as scientific in nature, then it is safe to assume that the controversy would not have taken Gibson to court. But due to its artistic nature, and the view of many that Gibson was exploiting and disturbing biological constructs lead to an outrage and prosecution.

The Debate Continues

As shown, the ethical issues surrounding biological art span all aspects of society affecting artists, policy makers, the judicial systems, and scientists alike. It is up for highly contestable debate whether art pieces like Christian Bok’s Xenotext or Eduardo Kac’s Genesis are exploitations of living organisms for the pure purpose of art or if they are valid manifestations of art, used to deliver messages to the public. Even using EEG data and converting it into an auditory listening experience could be debated as ‘exploiting’ scientific data in order to make an aesthetic art piece. One that serves no other purpose than to rehash biological data into ‘jarring sounds’ and ‘pleasing colors.’ Overall, biological art is a highly controversial field in contemporary art. With some usages of bioart, the line between ethical and unethical is often crossed or bent. Examples like Gibson’s Human Earrings demonstrate this redefinition of borders, and the controversy this art form can stir up between artists, scholars, and the general public. Through other implementations and usages of media, bioart can be a provocative reminder of how life is modeled and represented compared to how it is valued, used, and disposed of. From the examples of bioart shown above, the pieces display patterns and messages that would be hard to convey with other media. Would demonstrating the idea that everything in our world inherently changes over time be as impressive if it wasn’t for Kac’s Genesis showing that even the most basic aspects of life mutate? Doesn’t an auditory representation of electrical brain waves show the sheer power and wrath of the human brain and its appearance when things go wrong? It is understandable for certain biological art pieces to draw a lot of controversy and stir up ethical issues, but when implemented correctly and held within societal boundaries, bioart can be the most efficient and eye-opening way to get some very large messages across. It is safe to say that bioart is an extremely powerful media and implementation of art, that can get significant messages across to viewers in ways that were previously unused. Whether some of these messages are necessary or ethical will continually be under scrutiny. The debate will continue as long as new biotechnologies and new bioart pieces continue to emerge. It will be up to us as a society to decide and form a boundary between acceptable bioart and its detrimental and exploiting counterpart.

Citations

1Kac, E. (2007). “Life Transformation” Art Mutation. Signs of life bio art and beyond (p. 163). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

2Kac, E. (2007). Blood and Bioethics in the Biotechnology Age. Signs of life bio art and beyond (p. 115). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

3Kac, E. (2007). Bioethics and the Posthumanist Imperative. Signs of life bio art and beyond (p. 95). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

4Kac, E. (2007). Open Source DNA and Bioinformatic Bodies. Signs of life bio art and beyond (p. 31). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

5Bioart, Ethics And Artworks. (n.d.). Masters of Media. Retrieved December 6, 2013, from http://mastersofmedia.hum.uva.nl/2012/04/18/bioart-ethics-and-artworks/

6Gross, D. (2013, November 13). Google patenting an electronic ‘throat tattoo’. CNN. RetrievedDecember4,2013,from http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/12/tech/innovation/google-throat-tattoo/index.html

7Kennedy, R. (2005, July 5). The Artists in the Hazmat Suits. NY times, p. 2.Site Search. (n.d.). The Xenotext Experiment. Retrieved December 6, 2013, from http://www2.law.ed.ac.uk/ahrc/script-ed/vol5-2/editorial.asp

8Stracey, F. (2009). Bio-art: The Ethics Behind The Aesthetics. Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, 10(7), 496-500.

9The Xenotext Works. (n.d.). Harriet The Blog RSS. Retrieved December 6, 2013, from http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2011/04/the-xenotext-works/

10Korperwelten catalogue of the exhibit at the Mannheim Museum of Technology and Work, Oc- tober 30, 1997 to February 1, 1998.

11Michel Foucault, ‘‘The Politics of Health in the Eighteenth Century,’’ in The Foucault Reader, ed. Paul Rabinow (New York: Pantheon, 1984), 277.

12‘‘Two Face Charges in Britain for Showing Human Foetus Earrings,’’ The Reuter Library Report (January 31, 1989).

13John Weeks, ‘‘Art Pair Fined over Foetus Earrings,’’ The Daily Telegraph (London) (February 10, 1989): 3.

14Kac, E. (2007). Introduction Art that Looks You in the Eye: Hybrids, Clones, Mutants, Synthetics, and Transgenics. Signs of life: bio art and beyond (2. printing. ed., p. 14). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

15Kac, E. (n.d.). Genesis. Genesis. Retrieved December 6, 2013, from http://www.ekac.org/geninfo.html

16Gibson, William. Neuromancer. New York: Berkley Publishing Group, 1984. Print.

17Moss, R. (2010). Ebocloud: a novel. Upper Montclair, NJ: Aerodyne Press.

18 www.art-prints-on-demand.com

19 http://www.artexpertswebsite.com/pages/artists/fontana_la.php

20 http://www.dertimm.de/2009/06/01/zwischen-faszination-und-ekel/

21 http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2011/04/the-xenotext-works/

22 http://www.rickgibson.net/freezedry.html

23 http://www.fondation-langlois.org/html/e/page.php?NumPage=278

24http://www.ecuad.ca/sites/www.ecuad.ca/files/users/350/work/88757/4Symbi%20WEBSITE.jpg

25 Zach Corse — “Fountain”  Music  Visualizer