[ITA] All’inizio di Ottobre ho presentato il paper “New Evolving Lifeforms. The Third Life” a “NeoLife SLSA 2015” (1-3 October 2015), Conferenza Internazionale a cura di Oron Catts e Symbiotica, che si è tenuta nel bellissimo Crawley campus dell’Università dell’Australia Occidentale (UWA) a Perth e che ha visto un’ampia partecipazione internazionale.
[ENG] Early October I have presented the paper “New Evolving Lifeforms. The Third Life” at “NeoLife SLSA 2015” (1-3 October 2015), International conference curated by Oron Catts and Symbiotica, hosted at the beautiful Crawley campus of the University of Western Australia in Perth, with a wide International participation.
Italiano [English below]
L’argomento è molto attuale e interessante, dato che, come recita la presentazione dell’evento, “nuove forme di vita stanno emergendo nei laboratori, nei workshop e negli studi. Con la promessa di sfruttamento per la salute e l’abbondanza, stiamo guardando alla vita come se in precedenza non fosse mai esistita, anche se soffocata nell’iperbole, nella retorica e nelle ipotesi.”
E poi: “Il 2015 costituisce il 20° anniversario dell’uscita pubblica della biologia rigenerativa, che ha inaugurato una crisi ontologica e nuove prospettive nelle modalità di relazione dei corpi viventi. Gli ultimi vent’anni hanno visto anche un cambiamento (o forse un ritorno) del tentativo degli scienziati di catturare l’immaginazione del pubblico, e un impegno pubblico nelle forme della scienza in mostra e come spettacolo. L’incontro cercherà di raccogliere prospettive occidentali e non occidentali in relazione alla vita in mostra e alla vita come materia prima da ingegnerizzare.”
La conferenza è stata affiancata da workshop, mostre ed eventi durati diversi giorni.
Credo che l’argomento della vita meriti una discussione urgente, soprattutto per le nuove forme di vita che, grazie alle scienze e alle tecnologie, sembrano scaturire sia dall’ambito dell’inorganico (con la Vita Artificiale, la Robotica, la Biorobotica e la Synthetic Life) che dell’organico (con le Biotecnologie, la Biologia Sintetica, l’ingegneria genetica, la de-estinzione). All’interno della mia ricerca, dalla fine degli anni Novanta, ho chiamato le nuove forme “Terza Vita”, essendo la “Prima Vita” la vita organica e la “Seconda Vita” la vita nel simbolico.
Di seguito un breve estratto dal mio paper, che sarà pubblicato negli atti della conferenza.
The topic was very interesting, since, as stated in the conference presentation, “From the odd to the mundane, new forms of life are emerging in labs, workshops and studios. With the promise of exploitation for health and wealth we are seeing life as it previously never existed, albeit smothered in hyperbole, rhetoric and speculation.”
The presentation coninues: “2015 represents the 20th anniversary of the public outing of regenerative biology which ushered an ontological crisis and new perspectives into the ways living bodies have been related to. The last twenty years also seen a shift in (or maybe a return of) the approach of scientists’ attempt to capture the public imagination; public engagement in forms of science on the display and as a spectacle. This meeting will try to get western and non-western perspectives in relation to life on display as well as life transformed into a raw material to be engineered.”
The conference was accompanied by workshops, exhibitions and events that lasted many days.
I think the topic of life deserves an urgent discussion, especially about the new life forms arising thanks to sciences and technologies, both from the inorganic (Artificial Life, Robotics, Biorobotics and Synthetic life) and the organic realms (Biotechnologies, Synthetic Biology, genetic engineering, de-extinction). In my research, started at the end of the nineties, I have called the new forms the “Third Life”, “First Life” being organic life and “Second Life” being life in the symbolic realm.
Below a short excerpt from my paper, which will be published in the conference proceedings.
New Evolving Lifeforms. The Third Life
What is Life? Life seems a complex and elusive entity. Life has always been considered as inherent to the organic realm1, as a carbon-based entity, and since the end of XVIII Century it was known that the matter defined as “organic” contains carbon and hydrogen (and often elements such as oxygen, nitrogen and phosphorus). Subsequently, the organic and carbon-based idea of life on Earth has been extrapolated as the universal one, and still today the scientists who are wondering about life in the universe base their models on organic compounds [Jenkins and Perez 2010]. Recently astronomers have detected the presence of complex organic molecules in a protoplanetary disc surrounding a young star [Öberg 2015]. And the panspermia hypothesis seems regaining the stage, also according to the discovery of organic compounds on the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko [Goesmann 2015].
Over the centuries many disciplines have attempted to define the boundaries of the living, that is of defining what is alive on Earth. In fact there are definitions from many disciplines, but none can be considered as exhaustive. Here you can read some examples, in the fields of biology, evolutionary biology, neodarwinism, physics, biochemistry, geophysiology, biology of cognition, physics again, but there could be more…
At the human size we are reasonably sure that we can distinguish what is alive and what is not, but at the microscopic size the boundaries blur. Is life possibly a function of the scale at which it is observed? What makes a conglomeration of chemicals or a mass of matter a living organism?
We are going to assist in an extension of the idea of life, from the organic realm to a complex panorama with organic, inorganic and intermingled life forms. These emerging forms can be called “Third Life”, “First Life” being organic life and “Second Life” being life in the symbolic realm (which is by far wider than the famous 3D virtual world) (Capucci 2009, 2013). All these processes could lead to a new evolutionary step. […] step by step the forms created by humans are becoming autonomous, and due to the pressure of the anthropic environment they are evolving as living entities, organic, hybrid and inorganic. These forms are not being selected by the environment pressure, like former animals and plants, they are not the result of natural selection. Instead they are selected by the anthropic sphere, by humans through a monocultural process. They are the result of the anthropic culture and habitat. The more the anthropic sphere expands and develops, the more these forms will proliferate, diversifying and evolving.