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Artificial Life

Summer/Fall 2013, Vol. 19, No. 3_4, Pages 471-485
(doi: 10.1162/ARTL_a_00119)
© 2013 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Ultimate Technology: The End of Technology and the Task of Nature
Article PDF (164.38 KB)
Abstract

One of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century, Martin Heidegger (1889–1976), died prior to the remarkable cloning of the sheep Dolly and before Dr. Venter started his experiments on creating synthetic life, and he never explicitly discussed living technologies. However, by reinterpreting his notion of “modern technology,” this article shows how it is possible to philosophically assess living technologies and to recognize ways in which Heidegger anticipated this phenomenon with his notion of cybernetics. The interpretation elucidates the fundamental process of technology becoming living and simultaneously presents living technology as the ultimate technology. The thesis of this article is that living technology is not just one more technology; rather, it is the perfection of technology as understood by Aristotle. Aristotle's thinking is in this way a key example of a profound reassessment of nature and technology. Aristotle clearly separates these two domains of being in his definition, but in doing so, he also connects them to one another in a highly influential way. Following this line of thought, the article finally offers an original perspective involving renewed respect for the perpetual self-unfolding nature of living technology.