Ep. 19 - The Science of Orphan Black with Cosima Herter
In this installment of the Future Grind podcast, host Ryan O’Shea speaks with Cosima Herter, the science consultant for the critically acclaimed television series Orphan Black. Cosima has an advanced degree in the history and philosophy of science, and has pursued a PhD in the history of biology. She uses her academic background to bring a level of authenticity to science fiction, and she was instrumental to the creation and production of Orphan Black. If you haven’t seen Orphan Black (well, first of all, you’re missing out) there are spoilers in this episode. However, you don’t necessarily need to know the show to enjoy this conversation. The show is simply a lens through which we discuss topics of emerging science and technology.
In oversimplified terms, Orphan Black is a science fiction series which tells the story of group of human clones, portrayed by Tatiana Maslany, that discover one another, find out that they were essentially made to be science experiments, and attempt to break free from the control of their creators. Through the series we discover that the clones are being controlled by a group of transhumanist scientists who refer to themselves as Neolutionists. The Neolutionists advocate self-directed evolution, cybernetic enhancements, gene therapy, and life extension, but they also engage in vivisection, murder, kidnapping, and more. The show deals heavily with themes such as identity, ethics, bodily autonomy, faith, and more.
Find Cosima on Twitter @RealCosima.
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- Why study the history & philosophy of science? [2:19]
- The beginning of Orphan Black? [4:02]
- “What do you know about clones?” [5:05]
- Identity, Determinism, & Nature vs. Nurture [6:56]
- The Orphan Black clone that Cosima inspired [9:09]
- On The Science of Neolutionism (Transhumanism) [11:56]
- The possibility & ethics of human cloning [16:11]
- Darwin, Bacon, Eisenhower, & amazing episode titles [19:06]
- Influence of Donna Haraway & A Cyborg Manifesto [23:24]
- Chimeras - Two genotypes, one body [25:32]
- Patents, biohackers, & topics not fully explored [28:52]
- The inspirations for Orphan Black [32:45]
- The science of life extension [34:48]
- Cosima’s thoughts on the science & tech on the horizon [38:32]
- Snowpiercer, a biohacking documentary, & Cosima’s next projects [42:04]
- How to stay updated with Cosima [44:54]
Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species
Graeme Manson & John Fawcett
Dwight Eisenhower’s Farewell Address
Donna Haraway, A Cyborg Manifesto
The Island of Dr. Moreau
David Hume, Bernard Mandeville
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