30 OCTOBER 2008

The world around us is changing. What will make the first century of the millennium different to the last? What will we love, how will we live, what will keep us awake at night? Join artists, scientists, ethicists, futurologists as they explore questions, ideas and propositions that explore our changing environment
and the challenges humanity faces in the future.

This conference brings together contributors from FACT’s Human Futures: Art in an Age of Uncertainty edited by Andy Miah which features work by George J Annas, Fiona Raby & Anthony Dunne, Norman M Klein and William Sims Bainbridge and Oron Catts. Confirmed Speakers include etoy. Corporation, Paul Brown, Russell Blackmore, Fiona Raby, Michael Burton and Norman M Klein.

In recent years, the long-term future of humanity has become of particular concern to various governance bodies and scholarly institutions. This is due to the many biological transgressions that have begun to occur through emerging technologies, such as genetic modification, cloning, stem cell research and much more. These transgressions call into question the foundations of social order, thus creating a complex, multifaceted imperative for humanity as a whole to foresee.

During this period, new communities of academic inquiry have emerged, including the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, the Centre for Responsible Nanotechnology, the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology, the Methuselah Foundation programme, and the Singularity Summit . Their explorations are accompanied by well-funded research programmes, which have investigated such issues as human enhancement and life extension. Equally, there has been remarkable and varied expansion in studies of the links between art and science, some of which investigate the challenges these technologies provoke. Yet the collaborative spaces within which various disciplines can explore future visions of humanity remain sparse and individual disciplinary perspectives have been disempowered by their isolation.

This conference and the accompanying book establishes a new environment of interrogation to inform our understanding of humanity’s future. The authors present work that situates discussions about human futures within the social and political sphere . Moreover, many of their contributions consist of works that extend their expertise to new terrain. This demonstrates the distinctiveness of the contributors and their commitment to speak across disciplines in order to initiate debates among wider publics.

At the forefront of our concerns – and FACT’s Human Futures programme more broadly – has been the aim to reconcile the role of artists and designers in dealing with the social and political challenges that are an integral part of these collective imaginations, but also to interrogate the concept of the artist. A central part of this analysis questions what we understand by authorship, either as an individual or collective act, where each presumes a certain level of attributive responsibility and culpability.

The age of uncertainty portrayed within our subtitle articulates the moral, political and social uncertainty that surrounds the development of science and technology. It acknowledges that discussions about radical transhuman enhancements will take place alongside conversations about how to improve the conditions of fundamental human needs; the management of pain, mobility in later life, and so on. This duality is central to our Human Futures and it governs the focus of this conference.