Questions about Life
for the Interdisciplinary Tour of the Human Condition
Needless to say, i cannot promise that all questions will be asked,
but thank you for submitting them,
and i apologize for shortening some questions.
As a reminder, this is a panel about Life with four distinguished scholars
in four different disciplines. The ideal questions are those about... Life!
- May I have some examples of the nanotechnologies already existing or some in the planning stage?
- Is language a form of life, or, more importantly, is life a form a language?
- How can anthropology and psychology contribute to the understanding of new bio and communication technologies as society's transforming forces?
- Is there an anthropology of cyberspace? Are there studies about the rituals of the Web? What is the anthropos of a facebook user?
- We are moving towards a world in which everybody speaks the same language, English in international interactions and the language of digital devices in personal interactions. What are the consequences?
- The media talk about the changes in our lives due to the digital devices, but what are the changes due to another momentous event of our times, the fact that for the first time in history the population of cities has passed the population of the countryside?
- The relationship between science and religion in your discipline?
- How do you view the state of education in the USA in your respective fields, particularly academic education, and particularly in relating to creating better societies in which better human beings can live better lives?
- The rate of suicides seems to be generally higher in developed countries than in developing countries, and seems to be increasing rather than decreasing all over the world. If that is a measure of happiness, how do you explain it? And does your work address how to make people happier to be alive, not just wealthier?
- How many years away do you think we are from mechanical nanotechnology being used to create, for example, non-toxic skin care products or other household goods? What should someone in their 30's, without a technical or scientific background, do to orient their career around these developments?
- How do you measure if your avatar is "better" than the real you? What metrics do you use? And should we just dispose of ourselves if we develop avatars that are "better" than us at everything?
- Will technology like virtual reality and nanotechnology cause an evolution of our species to a different species?
- Is the meaning of life the quest for eternal life? Is this what virtual reality and synthetic biology are ultimately trying to achieve?
- Has the rational completely erased the irrational from life (in the developed world)?
- The first use of a new technology or scientific theory is often military. Therefore we should ask ourselves: what potential military uses will avatars have? same question for human clones? same question for nanotechnology? and same question for Hershman-Leeson's art!
- Paul Rabinow's article says "gentleman's agreements are no longer imaginable, given the rise of patenting in the biotech industry": is capitalism distorting scientific research even when it comes to life? and how can we trust a science that is driven by the desire to file as many patents as possible?
- Christine Peterson's article talks about "replacing the industrial system of the world": when we replace the industrial system of the world yet again, how many million jobs are we going to lose this time? And how much more are we going to degrade customer support? And how much more often will our products break?
- It sounds like an implicit theme of this panel is "to build better forms of life than the human form": what is wrong with the old form of life? Why do we strive to create virtual realities, cyborgs, clones and artificial intelligence? Just to have panels that discuss the risks of creating new forms of life?
- What is the difference between the virtual and the real?
- Given that we live more and more standardized lives from childhood to death, that we all watch the same blockbuster movies and listen to the same pop stars, does it still make sense to talk about "identity"?
- If you could direct the future of evolution, how would you evolve our species?
- Life has changed and is changing dramatically. Is death also changing? Do we die in a different way just like we live in a different way?
- My Facebook wall was showing me ads for dating 40-yo ladies and buying reading glasses. I changed my birthdate in the profile and now i get ads about Las Vegas vacations for singles, sport cars and smartphones. If i could change my gender in that profile, i would see different ads. Are the customized ads of Google, Facebook, etc de facto a virtual reality around each of us that defines both our vision of the world and our role in it?
- Can we conceive of the end of the world as an excess of technology that will wipe out human life as we know it?
- What can your work do to protect the environment, feed the hungry, stop wars, create jobs and promote love? (and another similar one: What can technology do for peace, love and understanding?)
- Who are you?