Have you ever seen robots that communicate with nonhuman animals and plants, or heard of machines that are programmed to learn from their natural environments? Have you ever encountered technologies that collaborate with nonhuman species? It is not very likely that you have, considering how dominant modes of thinking in the West have a history of putting the human species at center stage – and in sharp contrast to some entity called ‘nature’ – when it comes to framing, designing, programming and using technologies.
Everything around us is part of an ecosystem: the earth, the forests, but also plants are part of the system that sustains life on earth. Plants make oxygen and are food for humans and animals. They are also one of the few living organisms that can make their own food from air and light. Leafy green granules are a crucial part of this and also cause the green color of leaves. With the help of microscopy and do-it-yourself coloring methods, we can expose the cell structures of plants.
When the ‘mind- body debate’ comes to mind, we often mention Descartes in the same breath. But since Descartes, there have been a lot of philosophers who thought about the mind body relation and a few major paradigm shifts around this topic. Wittgenstein for example, offers an introduction on the philosophy of the body and the meaning of body language. Merleau-Ponty, referred to our body as the primary source of knowledge, and Michael Serres praised the body and stated that the mind is born in the metamorphose possibilities by our bodies.
There is a desire to know where we come from. In itself, this is nothing new, nor is it symptomatic for the times we live in. How we tend to that desire, however, has changed significantly. In the quest for our heritage and the attempts to decipher our histories, the applied methods seamlessly dovetail with society’s shift towards individualisation. In the vain hope to achieve kinship, to discover our origins and a sense of belonging, we send out our DNA in order to attach personal truths to a test result.
Social media; targeted marketing; consumer culture; ‘how to be happy in six steps’; continuous behavioural monitoring; and an obsession with optimization and productivity: all are part and parcel of a single logic that pervades modern day society, which Guy Debord coined under the term ‘the society of the spectacle’.
Future Based #5 Long before Dick Swaab, both Plato and Descartes had already contended that we are our brains. They