The Real Science & Emerging Culture of Artificial Humanity

Luck and Death at the Edge of the World

Days to publication date: 65

In my novel Luck and Death at the Edge of the World (available May 7, 2012), some privileged human beings are able to abandon the bodies they were born with — as these bodies age and succumb to disease and other frailties — and have their conciousnesses decanted into synthetic bodies known as “shells.”

They include the very rich, who can buy a shell and then, when it ages out, buy another.

They also include members of the military, whose shells are tuned to include superior sensory perception, faster reflexes, peak muscular and skeletal strength, flexibility and elasticity of muscles and tendons, and superior organ functionality.

Homo Artificialis screen shot

Homo Artificialis screen shot

Clearly the idea of uploading one’s consciousness into an synthetic body isn’t original and it’s not limited to the world of fiction.

Scientists in a variety of fields are currently at work on technologies that replace or enhance various human capacities, from artificial limbs,  organs, and biochemicals to various forms of brain-machine interface that allow our consciousness to interact directly with our machines and even allow us to read words from brain waves.

Our robots work more and more like organic bodies, some of them even eating and excreting, while we grow or synthesize various tissues, including heart tissue derived from natural silk and brain cells grown outside the body.

I could go on, but there’s no need. I have an entire blog devoted to the real science behind synthetic humanity.

It’s called Homo Artificialis, a term first used (as far as I can tell) in 1924 when Joseph H. Kraus and H. Winfeld Secor proposed an early model of a cyborg in Science and Invention magazine (founded by in Hugo Gernsback — the guy after whom the Hugo Award is named).

Here’s the illustration of their concept from that magazine.

Homo Artificialis circa 1924

Homo Artificialis circa 1924

If you’re interested in keeping up with scientific research in this area, the blog is here and I tweet related stories at @HArtificialis.

I try to keep the blog attractive as well as informative, with striking images accompanying news reports, links to original research, and videos.

Some posts focus on a single news item while others contain clusters of links, like this one about  Kevin Shakesheff’s pioneering work on an artifical womb or this one about Roman Yampolskiy’s concerns about how to contain artificial intelligences while continuing to develop them into increasingly sophisticated forms.

Homo Artificialis screen shot

Homo Artificialis screen shot

Up to now, Homo Artificialis has focused almost exclusively on the technological aspects of these developments, but as these unfold they will affect other dimensions of our society: our demographics, our legal system, our personal relationships, and the philosophies by which we lead our daily lives.

These secondary changes will inform the culture of artificial humanity, which will be a second focus of Homo Artificialis posts as the site develops.

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This entry was posted in Facts in Fiction/Synthetic Persons, Luck + Death at the Edge of the World and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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