Enhancing Humanity

Here’s a recent CNN story: http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/science/01/25/ft.newdrugs/index.html

The story is about enhancement drugs and therapies. The point of such drugs and therapies is to improve on the existing human body and mind. For example, a drug named modafinil allows those who take it to stay awake and alert for 48 hours (without any apparent side effects). It effectively removes the urge to sleep.

For those who don’t want to take the drug-based approach, perhaps implantable technologies are a better option. Imagine being able to implant a chip in your brain that allows for instantaneous speechless communication with other humans (AKA “cyberthink” — it would work through a wireless interface between the two or more individuals). For a more realistic possibility, how about a chip that allows humans to control a computer merely by thinking of the commands? In other words, to move the mouse you would simply think “move mouse” and the mouse would move to the desired location on the computer monitor.

Here’s a paper on implantable technologies: http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Bioe/BioeMcGe.htm.

The philosophical issues involved in these cases are fairly obvious, perhaps:

  1. Do any of the technologies violate what it fundamentally means to be human?
  2. Should governments make efforts to restrict these technologies?
  3. How should society deal with enhanced individuals? As an example, consider the possibility of enhanced athletes or enhanced students. Does fairness require a university to restrict the types of technologies that students use? Is the same thing true of athletes as well, or are the issues different in such cases?

Any of these issues would make for a fine argument paper. There are probably many others that I have not even mentioned. Use your imagination to come up with some other issues.


Filed under: Bioethics, Uncategorized

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