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Posted: March 18, 2009
Human enhancement and nanotechnology conference
(Nanowerk News) The Human Enhancement & Nanotechnology Conference on March 28-29, 2009 focuses on the ethical, social, and related issues that arise in the application of nanotechnology to human enhancement. While nanotechnology is not the only technology that can be applied to human enhancement, it is and will be a core one; without it many current and future enhancements would not be possible. These technological possibilities will derive from many sources, especially nanoelectronics and nanomaterials.
As an example of an ethical issue, bionic limbs (e.g., for greater strength or vision) and neural chips implanted into one’s head (e.g., for on-demand access to the Internet and software applications) may give the individual significant advantages in many areas, from sports to jobs to academia. But these technologies may hold health risks—similar to steroid or Ritalin use for enhancement purposes, as distinct from therapy—as well as raise ethical concerns related to fairness, access, and general societal disruption. Therefore, it is no surprise that, on both sides of the debate, the ethics of human enhancement is believed to be the single most important issue in science & society in this century.
The conference is organized by faculty at California Polytechnic State Univ., Dartmouth College, Univ. of Delaware, and Western Michigan University. It is supported by funding from Western Michigan Univ. as well as the US National Science Foundation.
The conference is free to attend and includes continental breakfasts, lunches, and a good supply of coffee and snacks (to enhance our minds and bodies), but seats are limited.
The focus of the Human Enhancement Ethics Group is on the risk, ethical, and social impacts of human enhancement or engineering, particularly from future technologies such as nanotechnology and robotics, in addition to current issues arising from pharmacology. The Human Enhancement Ethics Group is a sub-group of the Ethics + Emerging Technologies Group, which also includes The Nanoethics Group.