Fall Faculty Colloquium 2017
The Posthuman

Directors: Allan Hanson, Anthropology and John Symons, Philosophy

Today’s bewildering onslaught of technology supplements—and often replaces—what were once defining features of our humanity.  Freezing of sperm and eggs and intravaginal insertion or in-vitro insemination mean that sexual intercourse is no longer necessary for having children.  Mother and father might never have met one another or be aware of each other’s existence.  One or both of them can even be dead at the time of fertilization.  Robots do much of the work that used to be reserved for humans, as well as taking the form of soft, cuddly and responsive pets that provide “human” companionship. Artificial intelligence in the form of expert systems draws up wills and diagnoses disease, often with greater success rates than human professionals can achieve.  Computerized analyses and Big Data may generate better models of the climate, demographic trends, or more insightful analyses of Shakespeare than any human scholar could.  Robots are already important designers of other robots.  A Singularity has been envisioned that will mark the moment when artificial intelligence exceeds human intelligence.  If so, no one knows what will happen next, although science fiction authors have no shortage of imaginative ideas about the prospects.

This colloquium raises the question of whether a posthuman condition exists.  If not, why not?  If so, what is it (or will it be) like?  The colloquium will contain scholars from a wide range of disciplines, who will stimulate each other to think about the question in new ways.

All KU faculty, staff, and graduate students are welcome to attend Colloquium sessions.  Meetings will take place from 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. in the Hall Center Seminar Room every Friday from August 25 to December 8, with a break on November 3.  Meeting times are subject to change.  Please consult the Hall Center's website calendar for the most accurate information.

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