Author Archives: rgalpern

Posts by rgalpern

The Future of Architecture in New York City

Project by Group One- Luke, Michelle, Rebecca, Zara, Sifan and Tom.


Posthuman Dignity

The source I’m sharing is “In Defense of Posthuman Dignity” by Oxford professor Nick Bostrom. It discusses arguments against posthumanism (which is basically transhumanism – the jargon change comes from the idea that transhumanist technology will make us more than human, therefore posthuman is a more appropriate name) and posthuman dignity, and describes why the author thinks these arguments are wrong.

He refutes the arguments that 1. becoming posthuman is degrading and dehumanizing, and 2. the existence of posthumans would create a dangerous tension between “normal” humans and posthumans, which can lead to dangerous, perhaps genocidal results. He refutes these by arguing that 1. nature is not objectively good (see our own weakness to disease, or tendency of hurting each other) and 2. society already has functioning laws in place to protect those who are considered different or less capable.

Beyond these arguments, he discusses posthuman dignity (the name of the article), specifically responding to the question: is human dignity incompatible with posthuman dignity? Human dignity here not only meaning worthy of respect simply for being, but also our moral worthiness, how good we are as humans. To the first point, Bostrom suggests that history has constantly changed the definition of who is worthy of human dignity (in American history from wealthy white men, moving incrementally to include all citizens), so it is not worth looking at today’s standards and suggesting they won’t ever change. To the second point, he argues that this isn’t a new problem at all. People will always use technology for good or for bad, so the question of dignity here isn’t specifically dangerous in terms of posthumanism.

I hesitate to post my opinion because I haven’t quite formed one yet. This is a really difficult topic to even think about (to imagine such technology, that is), let alone form a specific, educated stance. But overall, this article was a really interesting read and I hope everyone can take a look.

New Medical Technology



I went at this assignment from a medical point of view, with my father, who has trouble gripping surfaces/carrying things in mind. This new technology (maybe magnetic, or heat detection) will conform to your hand in a glove shape, and will also cover certain surfaces that are difficult for seniors/those with arthritis to grab. The surface will automatically turn and open when it senses the substance near, making such actions less painful for those with bad joints.

Applying the Bottom-Up System to Climate Change

D’Acci discusses the power of citizens to influence urban planning. However, what he describes are natural, gradual changes (e.g., the changing of streets from pedestrian to vehicle oriented, and back to pedestrian/biker) made by multi-agent groups. This strategy is hardly compatible with climate change when we consider how fast it is happening (the New York City Panel of Climate Change starts its predictions in the 2020’s- 6 years from now) and the multitude of private interests that can arise.

My question then is, how do we apply the bottom-up system to climate change? Keeping in mind how immediate we need to act if we want to take preventative action, how difficult certain scientific solutions are to understand to the common person, and how different citizens might disagree (e.g. someone on higher ground and someone on lower ground). Should the bottom-up model of change be altered considering the immediacy and complexity of climate change?

Comments by rgalpern

"I wonder what "rapid" means in this context. Surely there is no way of installing the instant changes called for by a manifesto. But as I've mentioned in class, I am fascinated by how much recycling is incorporated into our daily lives, and I think that if we could do this, we could do something similar with other green practices. But as Prof. Macbride pointed out, recycling had to become a part of the government first, and is currently serviced under the department of sanitation. Nothing comes naturally over time, but I would hate to see the incorporation of greener tendencies in our lives limited to two categories: instant change or nothing at all. I don't think I've heard this dichotomy used with any other topic before. And while it's difficult to stay patient with all the apocalypse-like forecasts from scientists, we have to remember that change is not impossible (going back to recycling in nyc, for example), but it can't be instant, either."
--( posted on Mar 4, 2014, commenting on the post How easy is a greener tomorrow? )
"I find manifestos incredibly interesting, and these ones on Italian Futurism are no exception. I think it's interesting that Sant'Elias's manifesto presents itself as a break from history, when in reality, I am reading it right now as part of the history of architecture. Either way, I disagree with him on several accounts. I'm currently in an art history class and it seems like Sant'Elias could benefit from sitting next to me. He proclaims, "things will endure less than us," forgetting that remains of the "decorative" classic architecture structures that he despises still stand in Greece and other places, as a reminder of ancient cultures that are no longer practiced. As for "The Futurist Manfiest," I find it almost too abstract to counter (perhaps some specificity is lost in translation). Again here we see an intentional break from the past (museums are graveyards now, apparently). I think it's interesting that, like architecture of the past, Marinetti claims that the next generation of futurists should throw them all away one they turn 40. I think at the heart of these manifestos is a sense of control of history, a desire to impose a new style without waiting for it to naturally arise. And indeed, all manifestos follow this line. My question is: how would Marinetti feel about the Italian Futurist exhibition at the Guggenheim?"
--( posted on Mar 3, 2014, commenting on the post A Call for Futurism )