Inventor, engineer, artist and visionary are names that have been used to describe Joaquín Fargas, a renowned disseminator of science and technology who will be presented at the Open Day of the University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) this coming February 9.
His most emblematic creation was the Biosphere Project, which consisted of creating isolated natural ecosystems in completely sealed containers where their only interaction with the outside was heat and light and which was exhibited in places as far away as the United States, Costa Rica, South Africa , Czech Republic, Malaysia, Uruguay, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Portugal, Spain and Cuba, among others.
Trade was able to speak with Joaquín Fargas to tell us about some of the topics that he will touch on at the event, including what he has called the ‘quantum generation’, as well as technological topics such as artificial intelligence, crypto and NFTs, as well as their specialty of combining art with biology.
In his talk he will talk about the quantum generation. What characteristics does this have that differentiate it from past generations?
Well, it’s actually a new term that I’m coining. It is absolutely unprecedented for this Open Day presentation, somehow inspired by the expectations of the UTEC.
The latter is interesting because initially in the digital world there were no intermediates: one was or one was not through zeros or ones. But precisely a generation appears in which not everything is, as they say, black and white, but everything begins to be quantum and where intermediate situations appear, that between zero and one we have different possibilities and alternatives that are probabilistic.
And how are the ‘quantum generations’ reflected in the real world?
This concept in real life is no longer that one chooses in one position or another, but that all these intermediate questions appear, which we say are interesting to analyze. We can see it from the gender point of view, in which a situation called non-binary begins to be defined, that is, I am neither one sex nor the other, I am what I feel at that moment.
We always copy, consciously or unconsciously, nature. and computers from all over the world in blocks that have complete information and that in turn are related to each other as a “chain of blocks”.
With regard to the body, the question would be the same. We in each of our cells have the complete information of who we are and who we should be. So the question is
‘Blockchain’ seems to have become the word of the moment, but what does this technology offer that others we currently use cannot do? And what about its high environmental costs?
Precisely what the ‘blockchain’ does with respect to previous technologies is that, for example, services such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp depend on a single system and if this fails we have a worldwide problem. Instead, in a blockchain system, where it is decentralized, every one of those computers would have to go down, or at least more than 51%, for the system to go down.
Another issue that is being discussed is precisely the environmental impact produced by the fact that all these blocks are interconnected and each of these operations needs to be validated in a round trip process between them, which generates an environmental cost that also translates into in an economic cost that is called “gas”, that is, the cost of carrying out these operations.
And it is a cost that, the more popular the ‘blockchain’ becomes, also increases.
Absolutely. And the solution that I imagine is to say “well, what is the degree of security that I want to have?” What is the cost benefit that I am willing to pay?
The latest example of this technology of the ‘blockchain’ is the NFT (non-fungible token), a method that would supposedly allow artists to sell unique copies of their work that has been somewhat discredited by its popularization as a speculative good and several covered scams by the press.
I love these processes, especially when they start, and enter this stage of turbulence. Everyone wants to ride the wave. Speaking of what NFTs represent in the artistic field, they precisely make it possible to give rise to works, because they are a ‘smart contract’ where all that information appears. They can also make that work unique – although it can be one of a series – and also show things like ownership – who owns it at the time – the history it’s had, and whatever else you want to put into this smart contract. associated with the NFT.
The issue of NFTs appears from February 2021, when the artist Beeple (Mike Winkelmann) captures a series of engravings he had made over many years on one of these tokens and sells them for US$69 million at Christie’s. From then on, everyone wanted to be Beeple, each artist wants to imagine that his work could have that value.
So, obviously there is a facility for artists who had already been working and who had a name that was already of interest to the public. Other artists seek to use that NFT as something conceptual, which is a bit of what specifically interests me in the projects I’m developing.
In what sense?
One of the projects I’m putting together right now with NFT is called “Immortality 3.0″. I had already been working on other immortality projects, precisely investigating that expectation that humanity has of perpetuating itself, and a little over 10 years ago I developed a work called “Immortality”, working with cancer cells that do not age and generating a kind of semi-living organism that could persist forever as long as it had a technological support.
. Maybe later someone can find that NFT data like my DNA and be able to replicate my consciousness or at least my constitution, my basic programming.
Another consequence of technological advances is the rapid spread of ‘fake news’ in recent years. Before hidden in the worst corners of the internet, now we see them in our WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter… Are there technological solutions for this problem? Can we inoculate against them?
I do not see a priori a technological solution to this problem. Obviously, we are at the dawn of what artificial intelligence is, but we have seen great advances in recent years, and in the future they could detect ‘fake news’. It occurs to me that it could work based on those sites where one already has reliable information and that the algorithm has the possibility of comparing it with the new news and setting at least one alert to decide whether we want to read it or not.
So for now it is one more question of educating people…
Today it is the education of people, but I believe that in the future this artificial intelligence could perfectly exist. And it could even end up being manipulated and put together a Ministry of Truth like in “1984″.
The recent oil spill in La Pampilla has once again made clear the impact we as humans have on the ecosystem. I think this is a question that has fueled your career. Is there a way to strike a balance between humans and nature?
We are nature. That is why we are going to do a workshop at the UTEC Open Day entitled “The Nature of our nature”, where we are going to reflect on what happens to us in our relationship with it, why it is difficult for us to have contact with it. Why does it appear as something hostile, something aggressive, something that we have to defend ourselves against and that we end up destroying.
Fargas will offer a free online talk called “Dialogues with the quantum generation” between 9:10 am and 10 am In addition, it will offer a workshop entitled “The Nature of our nature” with limited seats starting at 11 am You can find more information on the website https://openday.utec.edu.pe/.