Borders between organic life and information technologies are currently being challenged. With the advent of cybernetics and specialized fields such as molecular and synthetic biology, biotechnology, biomedical engineering and neurocomputation we are able to interface living tissues and organisms with technological devices.
This results in new phenomena in the society. We have started to use so called brain-computer interfaces to control devices by thoughts and by manipulating our brain signals, to assess human mental states, even to read minds, to facilitate simple kinds of telepathy, to interconnect nervous systems between two species, or to induce certain brain functioning by stimulating neural tissues.
Such possibilities open space for applications that used to be known only to the sci-fi literature before. In today’s world we are more and more faced with ideas coming from the transhumanism movement and so we can meet real human cyborgs. Concurrently, we are facing rapid advancements in artificial intelligence and robotics that also contribute to this trend. Artificial intelligence is getting much smarter and yet more unpredictable. Humanoid robots start to resemble real humans including not only in their appearances but in their personalities as well.
It seems that the borders between technology and organic life slowly start to disappear. Especially the field of hybrid robotics that equips robotic bodies with biological brains provokes uneasy thinking about our very nature. The question of what is life becomes harder and harder to answer. Pondering over extending the life as we know it and merging it with technology often leaves us in an ideological vacuum and suggests that there really are no borders to life.
However, we, people, need definitions and classifications so we can name and assess relationships among various concepts. This helps us to learn as well as organize ourselves as society. Only through distinctions we are able to determine values and establish social rules.
In the area of merging life with technologies we are already facing many ethical and legal questions, such as how far should we go in the developments or whether the society will benefit more than lose. A wide public debate should be started about the values that we recognize as soon political decisions that will influence rights and obligations of various social groups will need to be made.
This website aims to start highlighting some of the most urgent issues in this area. It is connected to my doctoral thesis titled “Semi-Artificial Forms of Life and Their Legal Regulation” which is currently in progress.