From Golden Rice and the Cyborg to nuclearized landscapes

The co-creation project TalentLab that we developed with Delegation in Catatonia of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) has entered its third year. This time we did a review of all the educational materials that were co-created between scientists and secondary school teachers in the previous two years. To start with, these educational resources were shared with new teachers in several workshops so that they could explore how to apply them in their teaching.

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Also this year a set of dialogues has been organized to complement the topics that were discussed at the co-creation workshops at the origin of the Talentlab exhibition that we created ​in the second edition of Talentlab. These dialogues, in a conventional museum, would act as the activities that would complement the main exhibition. This Talentlab exhibition is right now open at the Espai Mandarina.

CSIC scientists who are doing actual research on the topics of each dialogue, discuss their work with people closely related to the motivations and effects of these synergies as well as with social scientists. And with the general public, of course. In each event,  a wide range of skills, interests, and critical perspectives arises. We tried to motivate these synergies by a first exposure to a new object, or landscape or body that have been hybridized by the intervention of human science and technology developed at a given time under the influence of specific cultural relations and power structures. At the end of each dialogue we facilitate a fast workshop with the attendees in order to capture their interests and to figure out new questions that have arisen after the discussion. One outcome of the project will be precisely to compare the perceptions and desires of each type of participant about the topics covered in the cycle of dialogues.

The three talks scheduled for this year connected “an object, a body and a landscape”. Each one explores examples of the interaction between objects, bodies, landscapes and the technosphere.

Here’s a short videso where Juan Gibaja  and Jose Pardo of  Milà  i Fontanals CSIC Institution discuss ome aspects of this issue:

The second dialogue explored how the concept of the body has been altered since the arrival of the Cyborg. We opened the discussion by presenting the exoskeletons developed by CSIC scientists.

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In this video you can see Guillem Alenyà of the Industrial Robotics Institute (IRI-CSIC-UPC), Antonio Centeno of the Independent Living Movement, and Josep Martí, of the Milà Fontanals Institute of CSIC, discussing issues related to body and technology.

As soon as we can, we will share with you the results of our analysis of the contribution of the participants and interventions, both the public and the scientists.

We already can advance several key points that have appeared again and again in each dialogue. The ever present dilemmas about the separation between the natural and the artificial, the natural and the cultural as well as the fears and enthusiasms associated with the ability to influence nature. Other recurring questions have to do with decision making. Who decides what to change and why?. What degree of autonomy, if any, should be given to advances that question the common divisions between the natural and the artificial or the human?. How to manage these decisions in a democratic society where the rate of change in technology and science is so fast as nowadays?.

What appears increasingly clear is that the participants believed that the feedback between the natural and the cultural feedback is more and more quick and strong. The cyborg, for example, goes far beyond the simple prosthesis since it makes decisions for us. It also seems that participants understood that nature is conformed by something different than a purely natural process of evolution and cannot be understood without human decisions. The latter influence nature in a way that is increasingly amplified by our own technological capabilities. Year after year, this hybrid nature is more and more human. Humans increasingly evolve towards a natural that is the result of our own hybridization which, in turn, is decided by those who have a specific kind of power but not by the entire population.

The next dialogue will examine how a landscape is transformed by an event as traumatic as the accident of Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. It will take place on June 16th. Like all previous dialogues the meeting will be at the CSIC residence of researchers in Barcelona.

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