Bioethics Discussion Blog: Human Enhancement Through Nanotechnology: Is it Right?

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Human Enhancement Through Nanotechnology: Is it Right?

From Nano-Ethics comes this very interesting paper that looks at the arguments for nanotechnological human enhancement and presents the authors’ caution on the subject.

Many of you will wonder: what is “human enhancement through nanotechnology"? Well, I have copied below the section of the paper which tells us what it is and what it isn’t.. This should whet your appetite to click on the link above and read the entire paper. I think I’ll be posting on the ethics of human enhancement and nanotechnology in the future. But maybe, especially after reading the entire paper (it's not too lengthy), you might want to comment here. ..Maurice.



March 27, 2006 - RESEARCH PAPER

[This paper may be reprinted under a GNU Free Documentation License. Also see Center for Responsible Nanotechnology for other papers in this collection.]


Published in Nanotechnology Perceptions (2006), Vol. 2, Issue 1: 47-52:


Nanoethics and Human Enhancement:
A Critical Evaluation of Recent Arguments

By Patrick Lin and Fritz Allhoff


2.0 Context

Before we proceed, we should lay out a few actual and possible scenarios in order to be clear on what we mean by “human enhancement.” In addition to steroid use to become stronger and plastic surgery to become more attractive, people today also use drugs to boost creativity, attentiveness, perception, and more. In the future, nanotechnology might give us implants that enable us to see in the dark, or in currently non-visible spectrums such as infrared. As artificial intelligence advances, nano-computers might be imbedded into our bodies in order to help process more information faster, even to the point where man and machine become indistinguishable.

These scenarios admittedly sound like science fiction, but with nanotechnology, we move much closer to turning them into reality. Atomically-precise manufacturing techniques continue to become more refined and will be able to build cellular-level sensors and other tools that can be integrated into our bodies. Indeed, designs have already been worked out for such innovations as a “respirocyte” – an artificial red blood cell that holds a reservoir of oxygen.[2] A respirocyte would come in handy for, say, a heart attack victim to continue breathing for an extra hour until medical treatment is available, despite a lack of blood circulation to the lungs or anywhere else. But in an otherwise-healthy athlete, a respirocyte could boost performance by delivering extra oxygen to the muscles, as if the person were breathing from a pure oxygen tank.

What we do not mean by “human enhancement” is the mere use of tools, such as a hammer or Microsoft Word, to aid human activities, or “natural” improvements of diet and exercise – though, as we shall discuss later, agreeing on a definition may not be a simple matter. Further, we must distinguish the concept from therapeutic applications, such as using steroids to treat any number of medical conditions, which we take to be unobjectionable for the purposes of this paper.

Also, our discussion here can benefit from quickly noting some of the intuitions on both sides of the debate. The anti-enhancement camp may point to steroids in sports as an argument for regulating technology: that it corrupts the notion of fair competition. Also, some say, by condoning enhancement we are setting the wrong example for our children, encouraging risky behavior in bodies that are still developing. “Human dignity” is also a recurring theme for this side, believing that such enhancements pervert the notion of what it means to be human (with all our flaws).

On the pro-enhancement side, it seems obvious that the desire for self-improvement is morally laudable. Attempts to improve ourselves through, for example, education, hard work, and so on are uncontroversially good; why should technology-based enhancements be viewed any differently? In addition to virtue-based defenses of technological enhancement, we might also appeal to individual autonomy to defend the practice: so long as rational, autonomous individuals freely choose to participate in these projects, intervention against them is morally problematic.

In More Than Human, it is interesting to see that the debate is framed as a conservative (anti-enhancement) versus liberal (pro-enhancement) issue.[3] This proposed dichotomy is undoubtedly influenced by the creation and work of the U.S. President’s Council on Bioethics. Led by Leon Kass, M.D., PhD, the council released a report, Beyond Therapy, in 2004 that endorsed an anti-enhancement position; this report has become the prime target for both liberals and pro-enhancement groups. However, it would be a mistake to think that the issue necessarily follows political lines, since there may be good reason for a liberal to be anti-enhancement, as well as for a conservative to support it.

20 Comments:

At Monday, March 27, 2006 9:04:00 PM, Anonymous Moof said...

This is an extremely interesting subject, and one that I haven't really considered before.

It almost seems a bit surreal, however our scientific advancements are making many things possible - and likely - which previously were relegated to science fiction.

From the simplicity of contact lenses to bionic eyes ... I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with artificial enhancements. Perhaps the question wouldn't be the enhancements themselves, but rather the intent, and the balance, or lack of it, with the quantity and usages.

If we look at cosmetic enhancements, there are people who don't bother to have any, and others who have a procedure done in order to correct something about themselves they've never been comfortable with ... and yet others who are driven to the point of being ridiculous - having endless bizarre alterations.

It would be the same with these enhancements. There would be those who wouldn't know where to draw the line. Even then, I don't believe the government should be involved.

I'd be interested to know what you think about it, Dr. Bernstein. I'm going on a "gut reaction" as I comment on your post, because this isn't something I've given a lot of deep thought to.

... I reserve the right the change my opinion once I do give it more thought ... ;)

 
At Tuesday, March 28, 2006 7:55:00 AM, Blogger The Nanoethics Group said...

Hi Moof -

I am the co-author of the nanoethics & human enhancement report in question, and I thought I'd add a couple more thoughts, esp. in response to an important point you touched upon: individual autonomy.

I agree that individual freedom of choice is a significant issue, and that's part of the reason this debate is so polarized along political lines. But there's another issue that many pro-enhancement advocates miss: the larger effects of many individuals each making small choices. (Think about littering: if I throw a cigarette butt out of a car window, that doesn't sound like a big deal...but when enough people do it, new problems emerge.)

So in the case of human enhancement, imagine that the technology is there and 10,000,000 people in the US decide they want to have computer chips implanted into the head so that they can process info faster, etc. Sounds unproblematic at the individual level, but how does that change society as a whole?

Now, society would be divided between "intellectually enhanced" people and those who aren't or can't afford it (making any social divisions today look trivial). So would or should the unenhanced get passed up on jobs in favor of "smarter", enhanced people? If the enhanced people can now communicate without speaking/writing (say, through radio waves of WiFi), what's the implication on society there?

Even if enhanced people move the average productivity rate higher (creating economic benefits that might mitigate disadvantages to the unenhanced), is it ok to create a two-class (or more) system in the name of productivity and efficiency? Democracy is predicated on the belief that people are more or less equal in their faculties and therefore should have an equal voice - but if people can become much "better" than others, how does that change democracy and government?

There are other troubling questions too. Again, this isn't to say we should not enhance ourselves - after all, what could be wrong with wanting to improve one's self? But even considering individual autonomy, there may be an argument to temper or regulate human enhancement to make sure it doesn't disrupt society too much. Change is not a bad thing (as if we could stop it anyway), but if we can make change easy instead of disruptive, it seems that we should do it.

Anyway, I'm a fan of science and look forward to new technologies - but at our stage in history and evolution, we should be able to anticipate that there will be some kind of societal/ethical impact (as with most other technologies) and prepare for them - but I'm not really seeing that in discussions today.

If you're interested in this topic, here are a couple links to more free info:

A balanced collection of essays: http://www.demos.co.uk/catalogue/betterhumanscollection/

A key report from the President's Council on Bioethics (2003): http://www.bioethics.gov/reports/beyondtherapy/index.html

- Pat

P.S. Thanks for your comments, Moof!

 
At Tuesday, March 28, 2006 9:39:00 PM, Anonymous Moof said...

Thank you for all of that information, Pat! You brought up some ideas which hadn't occured to me before.

Again, this is a subject I honestly haven't given much thought to yet, and I'm reacting more from my gut, than I am from having taken the time to give various aspects of this any serious, in depth, consideration. As I wrote to Dr. Bernstein, I reserve the right to change my mind once I've done more research.

A few reactions to some of what you've written:

Now, society would be divided between "intellectually enhanced" people and those who aren't or can't afford it (making any social divisions today look trivial).

Society is already divided, and it's not trivial ... financially, educationally, socially ... by age, sex, attractiveness, being "well spoken" ... there is no realistic way to level the playing field.

However, there is a place and a need for everyone, since all of those differences allow individuals to fit themselves into a niche all their own. The fellow who's been working on cars at the corner garage all of his life, and is happy to go home to his wife and kids at night, is probably quite content to not be a cardiologist ... and vice versa.

Not to say that everyone is satisfied with his lot, and that jealousies, resentments, and bitterness don't exist ... however, refusing to allow something because you can't do it for everyone seems like a weak reason, in view of the way the world is to begin with.

At the moment, there are many people with a better opportunity for education than others ... they will be in line for better jobs ... they will be higher on the food chain. I don't really think that this is much different on a grander scale.

There would be changes, and the way we deal with them would largely decide if the changes would weigh more toward the positive, or the negative.

I see almost any advancement that we approach with a balanced view as an opportunity, a possibility, for making life better for everyone - including those who don't directly partake of it.

If you would like to address that, I would be very happy to hear what you have to say. It would also give me more time for thought and research.

Your research paper was extremely interesting. There's a tremendous amount of food for thought there. I will also follow the links you've provided, and I thank you for them. I have a feeling that I haven't even dipped my toes into the water yet ...

Dr. Bernstein - thank you for providing us with an opportunity to have this discussion. I'd be interested in hearing how you feel about this subject ...

 
At Tuesday, March 28, 2006 10:07:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Moof and Pat, first I would like to say that I think ,even today, purely cosmetic enhancements should not be medicalized. Now I realize that it is already medicalized with the practice of some plastic surgeons, as an example. But I think it shouldn't be. Therefore I think that nanotechnology in the future which is purely for cosmetic enhancement, brain or body, should not be something of which physicians should be involved. Therefore I would look at nanotechnology for cosmetic enhancement of future citizens, not as a physician but as a plain member of society. But now, with that, I don't know what to say since I am ignorant at present about much of the details of nanotechnology and it's full potential of use and predicted consequences. Like Moof, I need a little more time and research to come to a conclusion.

Thanks to Pat and Fritz for their paper and Pat for his comments here. ..Maurice.

 
At Wednesday, March 29, 2006 8:25:00 AM, Blogger The Nanoethics Group said...

No need to apologize for your gut reactions, Moof – this issue touches many on a very personal level (since it’s essentially about the right to improve one’s self), so first instincts are important. And we’re still trying to sort out the issues ourselves and formulate our own positions, so I don’t pretend to have any definitive answers – just more questions...

To respond to your last comments, yes, there is social division which is not trivial today, but nanotechnology seems to be something that can exaggerate those differences and create new ones – which is what I meant by making today’s divisions look trivial. Imagine enhanced people who, say, can live 100 years longer than we can now, lift 200 lbs more than the average person now can, can see in the dark, can easily solve complex problems with the help of the “brute-force AI” nanoprocessor implanted in their brains. If we have a fighting chance against discrimination today, our odds are probably a lot less against such an enhanced person. (By the way, I’m not making these scenarios up – many futurists are predicting and embracing a world where we are cyborgs.)

To digress a bit, this reminds me of what political philosopher Thomas Hobbes meant when he said that life in the state of nature (or pre-civil government) was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Any given person may be able to kill any other person, with the right tools, skill, luck, etc., exactly because our natural capabilities are more or less on par with that of others. Even Stephen Hawkings could be a lethal weapon if, say, he caught someone by surprise (and lying on the ground) and crushed his victim’s windpipe with his wheelchair. For Hobbes, the natural equality among people is based on the natural equality of capabilities (while recognizing there’s a certain range of differences that is not too great in the grand scheme of things).

Anyway, with nano, this natural equality of capabilities may be significantly disrupted to a number of consequences, including many that I’m sure we have not even anticipated yet. But you touched upon a fair question: why should we hold everyone back, when some people can improve – isn’t that better than no one improving at all? It smacks of a communist era to say that if we can’t do X for everyone, then we’ll do X for no one. But I’m not sure this is what anti-enhancement advocates are saying, and it’s certainly not what I’m saying. For starters, if that were a sound principle, why aren’t we following it now? We don’t give everyone access to the Internet or Ivy League schools, so why start with human enhancement technologies?

My point, rather, is: if nano can dramatically amplify our natural differences, then we need to think of ways to mitigate any negative effects of that change. And we need to take seriously the possibility that human enhancement might be unethical or otherwise breach some natural law – if not only for the reason that such a view is held by many reasonable people, and in a democracy, we want to encourage a free market of ideas and truly consider or account for diverse opinions....

...and to Maurice’s point about cosmetic enhancements, that reminds me of a lawsuit I recently read about (in Asia?) where a husband sued his wife for not disclosing her cosmetic surgeries prior to being married. This raises a good question: is it fraud to not disclose cosmetic enhancements to your partner? If attraction is rooted in biological drives and instincts (assuming we are at least subconsciously attracted to those features that are expedient or good for the survival of our species, such as facial symmetry and clear skin which both denote health), then plastic surgeries may be causing countless men and women to be attracted to people/features that they otherwise would not be. The implications may be more than marrying someone whose real nose isn’t what you prefer; someone might strongly not want to put their future child at risk of some debilitating condition or disfigurement or even societal discrimination of people with, say, a weak chin or crooked teeth, etc.

Remember, just a few decades ago, cosmetic surgery was viewed as something shameful and self-indulgent. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all cases of cosmetic surgeries, since such procedures may really be the only way to boost one’s self-confidence – e.g. if you had a cleft palate, but not if you’re just a bit overweight or wanted larger muscles without wanting to put in the hard work. Anyway, I’m not an expert in the ethics of cosmetic surgeries, but if we can apply this discussion to nanoethics, we can see that human enhancements today are sometimes done for selfish reasons, such as using steroids to perform better in sports or getting breast augmentation for a modeling job, which doesn’t exactly fit into the noble model of enhancing people to evolve the species. Not sure where I’m going with this line of reasoning, so I guess I too have more to think about...!

 
At Wednesday, March 29, 2006 4:51:00 PM, Anonymous Moof said...

I know that Dr. Bernstein has posted again, and I will also read that post ... but both of you have made such interesting comments here that I can't just wander off quite yet ...

Pat, many of your arguments really hit me in a rather sensitive spot, and frankly, I'm not sure why that is - since none of these enhancements are anything that I would consider for myself at this stage of my life.

First of all, you said: if nano can dramatically amplify our natural differences, then we need to think of ways to mitigate any negative effects of that change.

The way to do that would be by thinking of ways to mitigate the negative effects of the natural differences which already exist ... if we can't do that now, seriously, what would we do then?

However, that said, I don't necessarily believe that someone - or many someones - being able to live for centuries, or see great distances ... is going to take anything away from me. In fact, their boon may even make my own life better. Why should I resent that they would be awarded positions that they're capable of filling, what would that be to me?

These "enhanced" individuals wouldn't have to be "set apart" from the rest of us as "above" us ... unless we are the ones who promote the division. The "us and them" factor usually is agreed upon by all parties involved ... and it's imaginary!

As far as Dr. Bernstein's comment - I don't want to speak for him, but I understood what he said as meaning "cosmetic surgery" for frivolous reasons ... rather than for the legitimate repair of cleft palate, or some other deformity. He would apply the same to nanotechnology.

I'm not sure I would agree with him, however, I can certainly understand that physicians would probably feel that it was not in their domain to humor the idle rich.

And to carry that thought a bit further, Pat, you've asked a very difficult question, which really is more than a "nanotechnology" query:

"is it fraud to not disclose cosmetic enhancements to your partner?

I honestly don't know the answer to this one, and I have conflicting ideas. I would be tempted to say that, had I had some reconstructive (or constructive) surgery in my past, that the way I look now is the way I am now, it's my reality. Anyone who purports to "love" me should love me no matter what I look like ...

... but as far as passing traits on to your children - that's another story. Although - a "weak chin" wouldn't carry the same disclosure "weight" as would any number of other disorders which can't even be seen from the outside of a person, like a bad heart.

I think we've all agreed on one thing: there is certainly a lot of room for thought and discussion ...

 
At Thursday, March 30, 2006 9:32:00 AM, Blogger The Nanoethics Group said...

You know, Moof, now that you mention it, both the pro- and anti-enhancement arguments don't sit comfortably with me either, and I was trying to figure out why that is. Here are some quick thoughts:

The anti-enhance camp might be viewed as petty, if construed has holding everyone back for the sake of the status quo or equality, and it's not clear either one is desirable. (Of course, if enhancements plausibly make other people worse off, then that's an important consideration, but probably not the only one.) Anti-enhance also goes against a very strong intuition that people should strive to do better, and if we're morally permitted to use a computer today, then why not a computer that's embedded into our bodies?

But one key anti-enhance argument that we have not talked about here is the notion of "human dignity" or what it means to be human, which I think has some attractiveness to it. To illustrate this point, let's look at an extreme situation where that notion seems to be lost: if everyone were cyborgs, lived easy lives, etc., what becomes of the human spirit? Do we want our art and music to come from machines, or inspired by all-too-human experiences? Would there be pressure to enhance our children? [I don't do this point justice here - there's much more to this, but this gives you a taste of the argument...]

For pro-enhance folks, "human dignity" may be too abstract or touchy-feely a concept, esp. in contrast to the real benefits enhancements can provide (e.g., productivity). The attractiveness of this position is that much of it is based on individual freedom, which is a notion that strongly resonates with people. But this may come at the expense of "the big picture."

For instance, if enhanced people can live an extra 100+ years, that puts much pressure on pensions, finite resources, population-related issues (real estate, traffic, etc.). I forget who raised this point: if we're struggling to find meaning in our lives now, how does living another centrury improve our situation? [This - longevity - is really a separate topic from enhancement, although clearly related.]

Anyway, this is just my quick diagnosis of why either side might strike a nerve (and perhaps also why this issue is so passionately debated)...

- Pat

 
At Thursday, March 30, 2006 2:02:00 PM, Anonymous Moof said...

Pat, those are some excellent points - on both sides of the issue.

Let me toss an idea into here which really is not pro or anti ... but rather an observation on the human race: if it can be done, someone will do it, whether or not it should be done. And if (when) it is done, there will always be individuals who will risk whatever is necessary to avail themselves of "it" ... and others who will be willing to enable them to do so ... whatever the current "it" happens to be. In this case: artificial enhancements ... nanotech. This is one of the very few instances that I feel comfortable using the word "always."

Now, for some of the points you've made ...

[...] the notion of "human dignity" [...] if everyone were cyborgs, lived easy lives, etc., what becomes of the human spirit?

While I understand what you're saying, I believe that spirit is separate from the physical. If John Doe's artificial heart doesn't squash his spirit, then why would his artifical eyes? Also, a person can have an "easy life" without the help of nanotech ... and "everyone" probably wouldn't have an easy life then, any more than "everyone" has an easy life now.

To continue: Do we want our art and music to come from machines, or inspired by all-too-human experiences?

Art and music are a lot like spirit, they come from the imagination, not from machines. Why would having body parts which are mechanical destroy a person's creativity? Would it really make things worse if an artist could draw a straighter line ... or if a musician could faultlessly play a composition he wrote? The creativity would not come from the machine - it would still come from the human spirit.

Would there be pressure to enhance our children?

That's a very uncomfortable question. Yes, I believe that this could become an issue, and I'm honestly not sure of how it should be dealt with. There would necessarily be times when that sort of intervention would be a positive thing - to save the life of a child, or to give movement to a crippled child ... but that wouldn't be where the demands would end. I don't know how to answer that one ... it needs more thought.

[...] if enhanced people can live an extra 100+ years, that puts much pressure on pensions, finite resources, population-related issues [...] if we're struggling to find meaning in our lives now, how does living another centrury improve our situation? [...]"

Yet more currently unanswerable questions. Yes, longevity would certainly put a lot of pressure on quite a few facets of living. Perhaps the uber-skills could be used to improve living in ways which we haven't thought out yet? I know that it's a lot like saying: "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it," but really, I'm afraid that is what's probably going to happen.

But you know Pat ... about struggling to find meaning ... some of us have enough "meaning" to not run out in several centuries ... and some of us lose meaning after only a year or two of hardship. Again - strength of spirit is buried in the human pysche ... unquantifiable ... unpredictable ... and hopefully, indomitable when faced with contructs made of bits of plastic, metal and computer chips ... and the passage of time.

There's a lot of room for discussion on this topic. I think we've barely scratched the surface ...

 
At Thursday, March 30, 2006 9:25:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Gee..what an interesting discussion. What I have learned from what you both wrote is that there is more to the consequences of nanotechnology than simply the application of the science but that we should consider many other factors including human behavior, some of which are beyond our full control now and will be similarly out of our full control in the future. Perhaps we need a way to morph these factors, like human behavior, to be able to tolerate the consequences of future nanotechnology. Who knows.. maybe nanotechnology will be involved in that "morphing". ..Maurice.

 
At Friday, March 31, 2006 8:01:00 AM, Blogger The Nanoethics Group said...

I think you hit upon a fundamental point, Maurice: homo sapiens, like any other species, simply need to adapt or die (or at least not make our lives/world worse off). This pressure to evolve may come from either "natural" events or by our own hand.

...which ties into Moof's first point that it's likely that these changes - whether nano-enabled enhancement or some other disruptive technology - will happen anyway (which is a fact about the world, not a moral or normative statement), so we need to be prepared.

And I think that speaks to the important role both pro- and anti-enhance advocates play in this debate. The former is more of a cheerleader, showing us the fantasic possibilities with technology. The latter helps moderate our (irrational?) exuberance so that we look before we leap. And isn't that a bit like how life should be or is?... a symbiotic relationship, even if the two parties first appear at odds. ;)

- Pat

 
At Friday, March 31, 2006 8:27:00 AM, Blogger The Nanoethics Group said...

P.S. Moof, about your comment about the human spirit....even if such a thing exists and is separate from the physical, it should be clear that the ability of the human spirit to communicate to the outside world is dependent on the brain as well as how one feels physically. For instance, if I were drunk or had the flu, I might not be able to "think straight."

So if I had a computer chip implanted in my brain that helps me to quickly process and analyze the countless permutations of possibilities (like a brute-force AI program designed to play chess), I can envision that having an influencing role over my thoughts and other brain processes, which may impair or enhance the human spirit.

There's also an issue of whether there will be a communication gap between enhanced and unenhanced people. To the extent that communication depends on shared experiences (e.g., we can't talk about the color red to people who are color-blind), enhancements may make those experiences fundamentally different. Not just seeing in infrared, but perhaps having the ability of echolocation as a dolphin or bat has (as just one example). So if experiences are radically different, that also changes the nature of art and music, among many other things.

Anyway, I realize all this raises more questions, but discussions such as ours are what's needed to help peel off the layers of this onion... ;)

- Pat

 
At Friday, March 31, 2006 8:29:00 AM, Blogger The Nanoethics Group said...

P.P.S. This onion is so large that it'll take more than 2-3 people to peel it, and we may be cryin' for years. So for others out there, don't be afraid to weigh in!

 
At Sunday, May 21, 2006 2:17:00 AM, Anonymous Alexandros Marinos said...

What an interesting discussion this is.

I would like to comment on the subject of human dignity. What i believe is that we will continue to redefine what constitutes a human as we have for a long time now, at least for the last 50 years. The true question is "what am I?" am I one of my body parts/organs? no I am not, "I" can have a transplant if i lose one of them. Am I what i can remember? Perhaps for a good music composer was unthinkable not to have a good memmory in the years of Beethoven where he would have to hold entire symphonies in his mind and be able to mentally play them back. I can just use my computer to do that for me today. Mathematical ability has also been supplemented by computers for a while (calculators). So "what am I?" perhaps my emotions, my will, my spirit? Are we what we cannot replicate? Are we just biological machines? Is there something un-technological about us? This reminds me of a Marvin Minsky quote i heard in an Artificial Intelligence lecture. "Intelligence is behaviour which is admired but not understood". Could this be the description for "Human" behaviour? Our technology will continue to challenge and limit the boundaries of what we perceive to make us human. Will there be nothing left that we do not understand in the end? Will we reach a hard limit we cannot bypass? Only time will tell.

The fact is as moof said it "If it can be done, someone will do it" so trying to prevent it is pointless, unless we want to be placed in the anti-car, anti-computer, anti-internet, anti-cellphone, anti-technology or anti-change-in-general camp. All we can do is monitor the advances and contribute constructively to their evolution. Will they create inequality? Certainly, like all external differentiators today such as education, body excercise, health care or personal wealth. Can it be balanced? Most modern societies provide a basic level of education and health care. Some employers provide employees with cars and computers. There is no reason why this can not continue within the "integrated technology" universe, when this technology becames available.

What about sports? I believe we should look to technology-oriented sports such as F1 for the future of competition rather than the old-world sporting paradigm. It can be said that this will bring about equality since if we were to compare the DNA of top sportsmen in specific sports, 100m for example, we are sure to find specific genes that all these athletes have in common. The "gear" they were born with, their bodies, enable them to compete where I, no matter my determination, can not. That might change.

My thoughts although late,
Alexandros Marinos
trojector@rocketmail.com

 
At Tuesday, May 23, 2006 5:37:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so if nanotechnology (at this point i'm thinking nanorobots) was used to enhance humans, what would happen to that human if s/he was hit with an EMP? Esp if the nanorobot was interacting with the nervous system or CNS at the time.

 
At Sunday, August 06, 2006 7:48:00 PM, Anonymous Omally said...

First meetings warrant introductions. For my own privacy I will not give my real name freely, however anyone in this discussion may call me Omally. I feel that I can offer some view points that may be of interest. In my way of reply to the comment about the EMP. There are two ways that this can go. If the nanobot/s were linked to the nervous system in question (they were a functioning part of it) and they were to fail for any reason, One the nervous system would fail instantaneously.
Or two the nervous system does not alter in any way (baring of course the now failing nanobots linked to it) and it functions as or as if the loss of nanobots were unnoticeable. I hope this is a satisfactory answer for your query.

One issue that I feel people didn't discus enough (tip of the iceberg one might say) was of how nanotechnologically enhanced beings in general would be treated. Discrimination is still lingering all over the planet (i.e. white and black) and we still fight wars. People dislike others because they are different or imperfect is a term I was unfortunate enough to overhear, people do not realize there own faults and if they do they distract themselves from it by pointing out the flaws of others. If people do this because others are different or imperfect than nanotechnologically enhanced beings would only make the situation worse, nothing is perfect everything can be improved upon human beings in particular, we are flawed in our very design. People are trying to improve themselves every day and further themselves in life. Out of the blue someone gathered the notion that soon we will have the technology necessary to create machines that will dramatically improve the human race. This person named this theoretical creation Nanotechnology, and that's how this paper started.

Gentlemen, I'm sure you realize this discussion has only started. "You solve one question to only raise more. And even then some questions can only be answered by more questions." I hope we will solve as many questions and queries as we can. My attentions are on the subject at hand. Let us begin.

 
At Tuesday, August 22, 2006 12:26:00 PM, Blogger jodyrb said...

Greetings ;

I am new to the whole nanotech and biomachanic fields, but i loved reading every word you all wrote, it has inspired me to further my research into these fields and more.

Jody

 
At Friday, August 24, 2007 10:31:00 PM, Blogger jimoer i ke said...

seeing the discrimination, money, sex, age, ivy league, standard high school, wanting to be involved in human enhancement, mental, physical, better my life my shell, would sign over to Stephen Hawkings, or like.. seeking intellectually enhancement which i can not afford, nano-enhanced red blood cells for oxygen plus, computer chip for processing intellect, more nano technolgy, for producing auto drug sender according to scanner sender unit that produces from bodies own cells chemicals for all things needed & more. would work under cover for national & other security issues. would work heartedly on human dignity & human spirit, be in your care a devoted client. excuse me for wanting to become a transhuman that may be able to produce truly enhanced human offsring. Hold that thought!
jimoer_i_ke`

 
At Friday, August 24, 2007 11:35:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Really? ..Maurice.

 
At Tuesday, September 28, 2010 9:08:00 AM, Anonymous Mitchell said...

Well, it's certainly an interesting topic... one that I don't think will be resolved any time soon.
However, this is my two cents.
While this thing is possible, I'm not sure if we have the insight to do it yet.
As one person stated above, until we can do it for everyone, we probably shouldn't do it for anyone. This is going to cause massive society clefts, that could theoretically last for, well, forever.
It could be just a waiting game.

 
At Tuesday, December 10, 2013 4:41:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it "fair" that a child is born into poverty while the rich kid is born into privilege, educated, trained and eventually enhanced genetically or nanotechnologically in such a world?
No.

You could say we can get rid of nanotechnological human enhancement that make people different based on wealth.
As such you go down the path of intolerance. As humans we embrace technology not avoid it, it is in our nature to be curious and set the genie free.
Nanotechnological enhancement could be mass-produced and given out cheaply so everyone could have it.
The old socio-economic systems of capitalism are becoming increasingly inefficient to deal with our ever changing world. The simple meaning of "wealth" will disappear is a world where nanotechnology can create anything out of simple atoms at a whim.
Thus your concerns about "rich and poor" are unfounded in such a world.

Of course we still think in our present monetary paradigm in which acquisitive and individualistic traits are encouraged and even seen as virtues.

The world must change its thinking before this technology can be put to work.

Adrian

 

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