Ethics of Human Enhancement

Emerging technologies are pushing us beyond nature’s limits — turning science fiction into reality. Nanoelectronics promise to give us tiny computing devices, embedded in our heads or clothing, to communicate by thought alone and access the Internet on demand. Neuroscience is helping to create soldiers that don’t need to eat or sleep. Robotics is creating an exoskeleton that grants us super-human strength. Pharmacology already gives us drugs to enhance our performance in sports, school, and sex.

Our familiarity with this last category hints at the kind of concerns that new enhancing technologies will raise—from freedom to alter our own bodies to fairness in social institutions. Some view human enhancement as the natural course of our evolution; others see it as a threat to the idea of “being human” and a path toward creating a Frankenstein’s monster. This presentation will survey the ethical and practical issues in this important debate.

Patrick Lin

About our Speaker: Dr. Patrick Lin is an assistant philosophy professor and director of the Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He is also an ethics fellow at the US Naval Academy and previously a post-doctoral associate at Dartmouth College. In technology ethics and policy, he has published journal papers, media articles, and books in key areas, including nanotechnology, human enhancement, robotics, space development, military technologies, and more.

Photo credits:
Photos at the top of the page use a creative commons license and were found on Flickr.com. From left to right: Boston Marathon 2009 from Stewart Dawson; Radial Head Implant from H Dragon; Pills (white rabbit) from erix!; Ready for Combat from Outland Armour.

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