“Even though the animals were on different continents, with the resulting noisy transmission and signal delays, they could still communicate. This tells us that we could create a workable network of animal brains distributed in many different locations.”
“Nicolelis’ … team is already working to link the brains of four mice. The researchers are also set to start similar experiments with monkeys, in which paired individuals control virtual avatars and combine their brain activity to play a game together.”
“British expert Professor Christopher James, from the University of Warwick, who has conducted similar research, said: ‘We are far from a scenario of well-networked rats around the world uniting to take us over, the stimulation is crude and specific. As for the ethics, I struggle to think of any applications that would not have ethical issues’.”
2) Some other famous scientists and a famous musician proposed an “interspecies internet”
Gabriel:”What would happen if we could somehow find new interfaces – visual, audio — to allow us to communicate with the remarkable beings we share the planet with.”
Gershenfeld: “I was struck by the history of the internet, because it started as the internet of middle-aged white men … I realized that we humans had missed something — the rest of the planet … We’re starting to think about how you integrate the rest of the biomass of the planet into the internet.”
Cerf: “What’s important about what these people are doing: They’re beginning to learn how to communicate with species that are not us, but share a sensory environment. [They’re figuring out] what it means to communicate with something that’s not a person. I can’t wait to see these experiments unfold.”
“We hope to link up the captive species who already have demonstrated a cognitive and linguistic understanding of interspecies communication from facility to facility (especially the families that have been separated), and additionally to their species in their native lands. Schoolchildren in the native regions where these animals are in danger, would be able to communicate with the animals via tablet and learn that these animals are intelligent and friendly.
“‘We’ll never be apart!,’ says Misao to Fukumaru. Both of them live in a tiny world, with dignity, with mutual love. Still today, under the blue sky, Misao and Fukumaru work in the fields and in these natural surroundings, where they shine like the stars.”
“Multispecies ethnographers are studying the host of organisms whose lives and deaths are linked to human social worlds. A project allied with Eduardo Kohn’s ‘anthropology of life‘—’an anthropology that is not just confined to the human but is concerned with the effects of our entanglements with other kinds of living selves’—multispecies ethnography centers on how a multitude of organisms’ livelihoods shape and are shaped by political, economic, and cultural forces.” (Eben Kirksey and Stefan Helmreich, 2010)
My research has always focussed on human-nonhuman relations, but as the Counting Sheep project progresses I find myself less interested in technology per se, and more interested in how technologies mediate our relationships with other living creatures.
Since my research tends to focus on large-scale, public issues in this area, I thought it might be interesting to look at what’s going on at more small-scale or personal levels, and maybe even explore what a multispecies autoethnography might involve.
Let’s take my body as an example. Six weeks ago I broke my left ankle in three places, and got titanium implants that will hold my tibia and fibula together for the rest of my life. Last week I got a bacterial infection in the surgical wounds, and yesterday my GP identified a fungal infection on my foot (both superficial and temporary conditions). Whether you find this fascinating, disgusting, both or neither, my point is that these events make it impossible for me to believe in human exceptionalism or ignore that my body is simultaneously animal, vegetable and mineral.
And we’re not done yet! My (injured) body is also directly and indirectly bound to two other animals: pigs and rats.
After surgery I developed a blood clot or deep vein thrombosis in my calf. The initial treatment for DVT is the anti-coagulant drug heparin, and for the past six weeks I’ve been giving myself daily injections of enoxaparin sodium, derived from the intestinal mucosa of pigs. In this case, one animal (the pig) dies, in part, to produce a drug that allows the human animal (me) to live.
Yesterday, the heparin was replaced by warfarin, an anti-coagulant most famously used as rat poison, which I’ll take in tablet form for another three months:
In this case, the same drug used to kill a pest animal (the rat) is being used to keep a human animal (me) alive.
Now all I’ve really done here is trace the species that have recently become my companions. In order to make this a ‘proper’ multispecies ethnographic account, I would need to take a much closer look at the political, economic, and cultural forces that create and maintain this human-nonhuman assemblage I call my body. And that, I’m afraid, will have to be a task for another day. It turns out that my new companions wear me out rather quickly and I’m tired now.
Farm: The second meeting of British Animal Studies Network in Glasgow, took place on Friday 16 November and Saturday 17 November 2012 at the University of Strathclyde. They’ve generously posted audio of all the talks:
Erica Fudge (University of Strathclyde) [to listen to the welcome click here]
Henry Buller (Exeter University), ‘The One and the Many: Interkingdoms, (un)Natural Participations and the Farm’ [to listen to the paper click here]
Lewis Holloway (Hull University), Chris Bear (Cardiff University) and Katy Wilkinson (University of Warwick), ‘Robotic milking technologies and the renegotiation of situated ethical relationships on UK dairy farms’ [to listen to the paper click here]
Richard Twine (Lancaster University), ‘Animals on Drugs – Understanding the role of pharmaceutical companies in the animal-industrial complex’ [to listen to the paper click here]
Ursula K Le Guin said it best: "Although the green country of fantasy seems to be entirely the invention of human imaginations, it verges on and partakes of actual realms in which humanity is not lord and master, is not central, is not even important."