Topics in the History and Theory of the Media: Artificial LifeEM
What defines life? And where is the boundary between its proper and improper instances, between the natural and the artificial? Taking up readings from philosophy, science, and literature that range from antiquity to contemporary nanotech, this seminar explores humanity’s desire to become like the gods, fashioning species, companions, and slaves at will, even as these creations threaten to take on an uncanny life of their own. As we will see, establishing the threshold between natural and artificial life inevitably also raises questions about ethics, technology, aesthetics, gender and ecology.