Christopher Newfield, “Nano-Punk for Tomorrow’s People”

Christopher Newfield reports his thoughts on the Tomorrow’s People Conference at Oxford in March 2006, focusing on “enhancement of the human” through future technological advances, particularly in the field of nanotechnology. Newfield notes that while many scholars presented well-developed scientific narratives of transhumanism, they largely failed to provide sufficiently robust social narratives to complement them. Other presenters and audience members spoke of the socio-political side of transhumanism but focused primarily on dystopian narratives. Newfield suggests that the conference revealed a “vivid typography of dueling models” that need to find common ground. He suggests that academics could learn from certain science fiction writers, who manage to synthesize both (the “Lexus and the olive tree”) into a cohesive narrative of transhumanism. Rather than viewing culture and politics as an expression of humanity’s stupidity, to be overcome by technology, or viewing technology as an inherently threatening force, he suggests that we adopt the view that they inform each other in positive ways, and can thus transform each other similarly. Newfield elaborates this vision and calls it “Nano-Punk.”

-ZH

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