Symposium: Living Techno-Natures: Biohybrid Objects, Life, and Technology

Organized by Dr. Josef Barla (Goethe-University Frankfurt) and Dr. Marco Tamborini (TU Darmstadt)

Proposing the notion of “biohybrid objects” for complex systems consisting of natural and artificial components that not only imitate living beings but also share their basic principles, this symposium explores the remarkable circulation of morphological knowledge between biology and technology. Bringing together innovative interdisciplinary contributions, the symposium aims at bringing together insights on the emergence and nature of biohybrid objects form philosophy, epistemology, and science and technology studies. After a series of breakthroughs in synthetic biology and artificial intelligence, how can we still distinguish philosophically, scientifically, and epistemologically between living beings and technologies? In what ways do biohybrid objects both inform and challenge established understandings of life and technology? What does it mean to shift our understanding from organisms as objects of knowledge to biohybrid objects, i.e., to natural-technological assemblages that do not exist in isolation from interventions in science and engineering and economic practices? What epistemological adjustments are necessitated by the shift in biology from organisms as objects of knowledge to organisms as problems of genetic coding and access to information, but also by recent reworking of organisms to technologies themselves? How are biohybrid objects not only technoscientificially produced but themselves reconfiguring science, engineering, and the bioeconomy? Engaging with these and other crucial questions that emerge from the dissolution of the boundaries between life and technology, the symposium will contribute to current debates in philosophy, epistemology, and science and technology studies that explore the relationship between life and technology against the backdrop of fundamental shifts brought about by synthetic biology and artificial intelligence.

With a keynote lecture from Henry Dicks (University Jean Moulin Lyon 3) on nature-culture dualism in biomicry as well as different panels on
1. Machinic Life: Philosophical Perspectives on Bioinspiration (with Julia Rijssenbeek, Marco Tamborini, Josef Barla and Christoph Hubatschke)
2. Re/Generating Life: Biohybrid Approaches and Technological Promises (with Gabriele Gramelsberger, Louisa Estadieu and Fiorella Battaglia)
3. Simulating Life: Ethics, Practices, and Boundaries of Artificiality (with Steven Gonzalez Monserrate, Dominika Lisy and Hannah Link)

For further information on the timetable and contents, please see the symposium programm.