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Biopolitics of Popular Culture Seminar

December 4-5, 2009
EON Reality, Irvine, CA, USA

Speakers - Schedule - Venue - Hotels - Getting There - Registration - Flyer

Livestreaming from TechZulu
Friday, December 4, 2009
8:30am-5:30pm PST / 11:30am-8:30pm EST

“The Biopolitics of Popular Culture”

Popular culture is full of tropes and cliches that shape our debates about emerging technologies. Our most transcendent expectations for technology come from pop culture, and the most common objections to emerging technologies come from science fiction and horror, from Frankenstein and Brave New World to Gattaca and the Terminator.

Why is it that almost every person in fiction who wants to live a longer than normal life is evil or pays some terrible price? What does it say about attitudes towards posthuman possibilities when mutants in Heroes or the X-Men, or cyborgs in Battlestar Galactica or Iron Man, or vampires in True Blood or Twilight are depicted as capable of responsible citizenship?

Is Hollywood reflecting a transhuman turn in popular culture, helping us imagine a day when magical and muggle can live together in a peaceful Star Trek federation? Will the merging of pop culture, social networking and virtual reality into a heightened augmented reality encourage us all to make our lives a form of participative fiction?

During this day long seminar we will engage with culture critics, artists, writers, and filmmakers to explore the biopolitics that are implicit in depictions of emerging technology in literature, film and television.

This event will precede the Humanity+ Summit, December 5-6 at the same venue.


Annalee Newitz
editor of SF blog, author of Pretend We’re Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Pop Culture
David Brin
scientist, best-selling author, popular commentator on modern technological and political trends
Natasha Vita-More
media artist/designer and theorist
Jeannie Novak
founder, Indiespace; Director, Game Art & Design and Media Arts & Animation departments at Art Institute Online
Jamais Cascio
senior fellow, IEET, futurist, author of Transhuman Space: Broken Dreams
PJ Manney
writer for television and film, including the TV series Hercules and Xena the Warrior Princess
Alex Lightman
executive director, Humanity+, author of Brave New Unwired World: The Digital Big Bang and the Infinite Internet
Linda MacDonald Glenn
fellow, IEET, attorney and bioethicist
J. Hughes
executive director, IEET, author of Citizen Cyborg
Mike Treder
managing director, IEET, blogger, Ethical Technology
Michael LaTorra
professor of English, New Mexico State University, member of the Board of Directors, IEET and Humanity+
Jess Nevins
expert on comic book culture, author of Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana
Richard (RJ) Eskow
blogger for Huffington Post and 3 Quarks Daily, policy consultant, president of Eskow and Associates
Brian Cross
sociologist, co-founder of Posthuman Studios, co-creator of Eclipse Phase, a transhuman role-playing game
Edward Miller
CIO of the Network for Open Scientific Innovation
Michael Masucci
director, EZTV, writer, producer, director, photographer, editor, musician
Matthew Patrick
director of feature films, TV movies and short films
Kristi Scott
intern, IEET, contributor to h+ Magazine


8:00 AM - Doors open, sign-in and continental breakfast

8:30 AM - Mike Treder, IEET managing director - Opening remarks

9:00 AM - Dr. James Hughes, IEET executive director

“Is There a Pro-Mutant Trend in Popular Culture?”

9:25 AM - Alex Lightman, executive director, Humanity Plus

“The Future Engine: How Science Fiction Catalyzes Technology and Transforms Society”

9:50 AM - Kristi Scott, IEET intern

“Constructing the Future through the Cinematic Lens of Dystopic Science Fiction Futures”

10:15 AM - Break

10:30 AM - Richard Eskow, writer/blogger, consultant, executive

“Zero-Sum Superheroes:  Can Transhumanism Overcome 30 Centuries of Bad PR?”

10:55 AM - P.J. Manney, writer for television and film

“How Yucky Got Yummy: The Evolution of Empathy in SF”

11:20 AM - Linda MacDonald Glenn, IEET fellow, attorney, bioethicist

“Law and Order: BPU (BioPolitical Unit)”

11:45 AM - EON Reality Facility demonstration

12:10 PM - Lunch (provided)

12:30 PM - Moderated group discussion

1:00 PM - Panel - “Immersion: The Coming Fusion of Life and Entertainment”

Natasha Vita-More, media artist/designer and theorist
Jeannie Novak, founder of Indiespace
Matthew Patrick, director of feature films and TV movies
Michael Masucci, writer, producer, director, photographer, editor, musician

2:10 PM - Edward Miller, Network for Open Scientific Innovation

“Beyond Utopia and Dystopia: A Critical Examination of the Ecology of Science Fiction”

2:35 PM - Professor Michael LaTorra, New Mexico State University

“The Ultimate City: Urban and Rural Values in Science Fiction”

3:00 PM - Jess Nevins, expert on comic book culture

“Those Who Cannot Remember Doc Savage Are Condemned to Repeat Him”

3:25 PM - Break

3:40 PM - David Brin, best-selling author

“Myths That Help the Enlightenment … and Others That Tear It Down”

4:05 PM - Brian Cross, co-founder of Posthuman Studios

“Talking Transhumanism at the Table: Designing Games for Non-Transhumanist Audiences”

4:30 PM - Annalee Newitz, editor of i09

“Will Mind-Controlled, Genetically-Engineered Sexbots Want to Play Videogames?”

4:55 PM - Jamais Cascio, IEET Senior Fellow - Closing remarks

5:30 PM - Conclusion


At the door: $150

Students: $100 (with student ID)


EON Reality

39 Parker St., Irvine, CA 92618

Our meeting will be held at EON Reality’s new, state-of-the-art, 18,500-square-foot facility built to showcase 3D visual content management and virtual reality applications. The facility hosts the world’s largest immersive virtual conference room that augments 3D and tele presence, and EON’s augmented reality system that overlays physical information to provide real time 3D guidance & explanation in a mobile, webbed, sensor connected environment.


Extended Stay America - Lake Forest
(Located about three miles from the EON meeting site)

Call and ask for their special IEET rates of $52 plus tax for each night for a Queen studio, $54 for a King studio, or $56 for a double bed.

20251 Lake Forest Dr., Lake Forest, CA 92630

Telephone: 1-949-598-1898

Studio type rooms come with full size refrigerators, microwaves, coffee makers, toasters, fully-equipped kitchens with cookware and dining ware provided, irons, and ironing boards.

Candlewood Suites - Irvine East
(Located a ten minute, half mile walk from the EON meeting site)

If you purchase in advance directly from the Candlewood Suites Web site you can book a room for $60 per night on Dec 4th and 5th.

3 S. Pointe Drive, Lake Forest, CA 92630

Telephone: 1-949-598-9105

Each suite has a kitchen complete with a refrigerator/ice maker, microwave, range, and dishwasher. Includes free Internet access and a 24-hour fitness center.

Doubletree Hotel
(Located a ten minute drive from the EON meeting site)

90 Pacifica, Irvine, CA

Telephone: 1-949-471-8888

Seven miles south of John Wayne Orange County Airport inside the San Diego (405), Golden State (5), and SH-133 Freeways triangle.


Click here for Driving Directions

By Air:
We recommend John Wayne Airport (airport code SNA) or Los Angeles International Airport (airport code LAX) as the nearest and most convenient.

To EON Reality from John Wayne Airport and LAX
Please take the 405 South and turn off at Bake Parkway. Turn left and drive over the 405 freeway. Turn left at Irvine Boulevard. Turn right at Parker. We are in the second building to the right. Please see map below for EON Reality’s office location (red star). (John Wayne Airport and LAX are not included in the map.)

To EON Reality from LA going on I5
Please take the I5 South to CA-133N. Turn right onto Irvine Boulevard. Turn left at Parker.  We are in the second building to the right. Please see map below for EON Reality’s office location (red star).


Dress is casual, so no ties or cocktail dresses.


Event badges will be issued at registration, and must be worn at all times during the event.


James Hughes Ph.D.
Executive Director, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies
Trinity College, Williams 229B
300 Summit St., Hartford CT 06106, USA, (860) 428-1837



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The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States.

East Coast Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
56 Daleville School Rd., Willington CT 06279 USA 
Email: director @     phone: 860-428-1837

West Coast Contact: Managing Director, Hank Pellissier
425 Moraga Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611
Email: hank @