Manama, Bahrain (October 24, 2011)—A desire to know more about how technology can affect human nature motivated New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) faculty members Curtis Carbonell, Ph.D., and Thomas Philbeck, Ph.D., to organize the first international conference on transhumanism from October 21-23.
“We are a technological university, but we should also be concerned with key humanistic categories,” said Carbonell, assistant professor of English at NYIT-Bahrain.
Titled “Transforming Human Nature in Science, Technology, and the Arts,” the three-day event gathered 50 scholars at Dublin City University in Ireland. Experts from 25 universities including Oxford University, University of Exeter, George Washington University, England's Open University, and NYIT presented on disciplines ranging from philosophy to literature and neuroscience.
Transhumanism deals with the transformation of human capacities through technology, such as the possibility of super intelligence through a microchip implant. Posthumanism examines how we are transforming what it means to be human via technological influence—thereby challenging classical humanist notions of a subjective self by demonstrating that the objective world of technology can be responsible for selfhood.
“These topics are of considerable concern in the 21st century because the relationship between human beings and the technologies they employ is changing our understanding of what it means to be human—but they are also highly visible topics in art and literature, such as films like The Code, Inception, and the Terminator series,” explained Philbeck, assistant professor of philosophy and assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Our originality stemmed from the fact that we handled this in an interdisciplinary way, asking ethicists, scientists, and artists to share the stage,” he added.
The conference was led by NYIT and organized through the cooperation of NYIT, Dublin City University, University of Exeter, and Univeristät Erlangen-Nürnberg.
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