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ad applicazioni nel campo della prevenzione. Esiste un progetto per integrare nelle automobili del futuro un cervello di tipo biologico, in grado di pilotare la vettura in modo automatico. Al di là delle perplessità etiche o dell’incertezza per l’evoluzione di questo filone di ricerca, rimane un dato di fatto incontrovertibile. La bionica, la bioingegneria e la cibernetica chiudono un ciclo storico: dopo lo scienziato greco, attraverso l’artistaarchitetto-ingegnere del Rinascimento italiano, lo scienziato-ingegnere del Settecento francese e l’industriale-ingegnere dell’Ottocento americano, l’ingegneria ritorna con il bagaglio della tecnologia allo studio della vita umana. Attraverso la bioingegneria d’avanguardia l’ingegnere, inteso come colui che costruisce, entra nel settore del mondo vivente. A queste sperimentazioni non può rimanere insensibile nemmeno l’architettura: l’intuizione viene dal famoso massmediologo Marshall McLuhan. Gli edifici stessi diventano una sorta di complesso sistema nervoso, entità sensibili con le quali l’uomo interagisce. Oggetti che si adattano al nostro modo di vivere, “protesi”, estensioni del corpo. Lo spazio non è più un contenitore, ma un palcoscenico dove si recitano le interrelazioni tra l’uomo e l’ambiente. I muri si trasformano in membrane, si proiettano verso l’esterno con un complesso sistema di sensori, e ne assorbono luci, suoni, odori. Perdono peso, guadagnano leggerezza e acquistano una qualità. L’intelligenza.

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998. Kevin Warwick, Professor of Cybernetics and Researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence at Reading University in the United Kingdom, carried out an experiment that stunned the international scientific community. He had a microchip implanted in his forearm to let him communicate with the office: he can open doors, switch on lights and operate his own web site that replies through a pre-recorded message. This is just the start of a series of experiments for Kevin Warwick as he gradually connects his own nervous system to a computer. The “Cyborg Project” set under way by this British professor is now in full swing. Steve Mann, on the other hand, is a scientist who has devoted over twenty years of his career to so-called WearComp, portable computers. Machines that follow us everywhere and filter, guide or intensify information coming from the environment. They receive and send e-mails, detect alarms and make home appliances work. Theses are two of the best known examples of man/machine integration evoking science fiction scenarios, but they have since been superseded by the latest and in some respects highly disturbing phenomenon of hybridization. This is not some hypertechnological novelty that only exists in the rarefied context of the laboratories of Technological Institutes, but rather a product that can be purchased at the modest price of 3,000 dollars. The innocuous appearance of

a coffee-maker actually conceals the cutting-edge frontier of bioengineering and sets a totally new direction in the manufacture of robots. It is called Kephera, moves at the sluggish rate of one meter-a-second and its inventor, the American researcher Steve Potter, has affectionately called it “Hybrot.” It is the latest “hybrid robot,” a strange blend of animal and machine. Also known as “animat,” automatic animal, it is the result of ten years’ experimentation and takes the hybridization between a living being and robot components to its extreme consequences. It is actually driven by impulses from two thousand brain cells from a mouse kept alive for two years in an incubator and then applied to a microchip. The neurons make the robot “act,” while cells with infrared rays and electronic minisensors transmit information collected during its activities to the mouse’s brain. Kephera gathers these data and makes appropriate adjustments to its behavior. Summing up what we have just said in one word might make the importance of this invention more obvious: the little Hybrot actually learns. Suddenly outsmarting lots of those huge computers devoted to Artificial Intelligence, the Swiss K-Team’s product has attracted the attention of scientists from all over the world. This opens up all kinds of prospects. Some people are already envisaging future generations of computers capable of adapting to the environment, changing during their own life time and even

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repairing themselves or, put another way, of “healing.” An initial grant of 1.2 million dollars that the US Ministry of Health gave the inventor of Kephera and his team is a clear sign of interest and a show of confidence in useful applications for mankind. The latest generations of hybrids will be able to help the victims of illnesses and accidents by taking over certain vital functions of the nervous system. Artificial organs and limbs will be controlled in a much more precise and sophisticated way, and there are already plans for applications for preventive purposes. There is a project to incorporate a biological-type brain in the cars of the future, so that they can be driven automatically. Apart from certain ethical

worries or a feeling of uncertainty about developments in this line of experimentation, all this is already a matter of fact. Bionics, bioengineering and cybernetics close a historical cycle: in the wake of Greek scientists, following the artistarchitect-engineer of the Italian Renaissance, the scientist-engineer of the eighteenth century in France and the industrialist-engineer in nineteenth century America, engineering is drawing on its technological resources to study human life. Thanks to cutting-edge bioengineering, the engineer (or person who constructs) enters the realm of the living. Architecture cannot afford to ignore these experiments: the famous scholar of mass media, Marshall McLuhan,

had an intuition about this. Buildings themselves might turn into a sort of complex nervous system, sensitive entities with which people interact. Objects adapting to our way of life, “prostheses,” extensions to the body. Space is no longer a container but a stage for acting out interrelations between people and the environment. Walls turn into membranes, projecting outwards through a complex system of sensors and absorbing lights, sounds and smells. They lose weight, get lighter and gain a certain quality. Intelligence.

arcVision 9  

Un approfondimento sul concetto di limite. Da un lato la propensione tutta umana a superare ogni confine attraverso uno sviluppo continuo de...

arcVision 9  

Un approfondimento sul concetto di limite. Da un lato la propensione tutta umana a superare ogni confine attraverso uno sviluppo continuo de...

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