Concept: Human enhancement
Genome editing allows for the versatile genetic modification of somatic cells, germ cells and embryos. In particular, CRISPR/Cas9 is worldwide used in biomedical research. Although the first report on Cas9-mediated gene modification in human embryos focused on the prevention of a genetic disease in offspring, it raised profound ethical and social concerns over the safety of subsequent generations and the potential misuse of genome editing for human enhancement. The present article considers germ line genome editing approaches from various clinical and ethical viewpoints and explores its objectives. The risks and benefits of the following three likely objectives are assessed: the prevention of monogenic diseases, personalized assisted reproductive technology (ART) and genetic enhancement. Although genetic enhancement should be avoided, the international regulatory landscape suggests the inevitability of this misuse at ART centers. Under these circumstances, possible regulatory responses and the potential roles of public dialogue are discussed.
- Public understanding of science (Bristol, England)
- Published about 4 years ago
Human enhancement, the non-medical use of biomedical technologies to improve the human body or performance beyond their ‘natural’ limitations, is a growing trend. At the same time, the use of these technologies has societal consequences. In societal debates about human enhancement, however, it is mainly the voices of experts that are being heard, and little is known about the public’s understanding of human enhancement. The views of the public can give valuable insights, and can, in turn, supplement experts' voices in political decision-making as has been argued before for other emerging technologies. This study presents a systematic literature review of current public perceptions and attitudes towards technologies for human enhancement. Results show that the public’s view has not been assessed often. Studies originate mainly from western-oriented countries and cover a broad range of enhancement technologies. In the studies, the majority of respondents hold moderate to strong negative attitudes towards enhancement technologies for non-medical applications, although the type of technology influences these opinions. The study provides an overview of what is known about citizens' attitudes towards technologies for human enhancement.
For the last decades, nanocomposites materials have been widely studied in the scientific literature as they provide substantial properties enhancements, even at low nanoparticles content. Their performance depends on a number of parameters but the nanoparticles dispersion and distribution state remains the key challenge in order to obtain the full nanocomposites' potential in terms of, e.g., flame retardance, mechanical, barrier and thermal properties, etc., that would allow extending their use in the industry. While the amount of existing research and indeed review papers regarding the formulation of nanocomposites is already significant, after listing the most common applications, this review focuses more in-depth on the properties and materials of relevance in three target sectors: packaging, solar energy and automotive. In terms of advances in the processing of nanocomposites, this review discusses various enhancement technologies such as the use of ultrasounds for in-process nanoparticles dispersion. In the case of nanocoatings, it describes the different conventionally used processes as well as nanoparticles deposition by electro-hydrodynamic processing. All in all, this review gives the basics both in terms of composition and of processing aspects to reach optimal properties for using nanocomposites in the selected applications. As an outlook, up-to-date nanosafety issues are discussed.
Transhumanism is a “technoprogressive” socio-political and intellectual movement that advocates for the use of technology in order to transform the human organism radically, with the ultimate goal of becoming “posthuman.” To this end, transhumanists focus on and encourage the use of new and emerging technologies, such as genetic engineering and brain-machine interfaces. In support of their vision for humanity, and as a way of reassuring those “bioconservatives” who may balk at the radical nature of that vision, transhumanists claim common ground with a number of esteemed thinkers and traditions, from the ancient philosophy of Plato and Aristotle to the postmodern philosophy of Nietzsche. It is crucially important to give proper scholarly attention to transhumanism now, not only because of its recent and ongoing rise as a cultural and political force (and the concomitant potential ramifications for bioethical discourse and public policy), but because of the imminence of major breakthroughs in the kinds of technologies that transhumanism focuses on. Thus, the articles in this issue of The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy are either explicitly about transhumanism or are on topics, such as the ethics of germline engineering and criteria for personhood, that are directly relevant to the debate between transhumanists (and technoprogressives more broadly) and bioconservatives.
Although some of the most radical hypothesis related to the practical implementations of human enhancement have yet to become even close to reality, the use of cognitive enhancers is a very tangible phenomenon occurring with increasing popularity in university campuses as well as in other contexts. It is now well documented that the use of cognitive enhancers is not only increasingly common in Western countries, but also gradually accepted as a normal procedure by the media as well. In fact, its implementation is not unusual in various professional contexts and it has its peak in colleges (where the trend has been characterized as “academic doping”). Even when certain restrictions in the legislation of a country are indeed in place (i.e. through prescriptions requirements), they are without doubts easy to overcome. The legitimacy and appropriateness of such restrictions will not be the focus of our investigation.
Metaphors used to describe new technologies mediate public understanding of the innovations. Analyzing the linguistic, rhetorical, and affective aspects of these metaphors opens the range of issues available for bioethical scrutiny and increases public accountability. This article shows how such a multidisciplinary approach can be useful by looking at a set of texts about one issue, the use of a newly developed technique for genetic modification, CRISPRcas9.
Hybrid organic/inorganic perovskites nanoparticles (NPs) have garnered remarkable research attention thanks to their promising photophysical properties. New and interesting properties emerge after combining perovskite NPs with semiconducting materials. Here, we report the synthesis and investigation of a composite material obtained by mixing CH3NH3PbBr3 nanocrystals with the semiconducting polymer poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT). By the combination of structural techniques and optical and magnetic spectroscopies we observed multiple effects of the perovskite NPs on the P3HT: i) an enlargement of P3HT crystalline domains, ii) a strong p-doping of the P3HT and iii) an enhancement of interchain order typical of H-aggregates. These observations open a new venue towards innovative perovskite NPs-based applications.
New technologies facilitate the enhancement of a wide range of human dispositions, capacities, or abilities. While it is argued that we need to set limits to human enhancement, it is unclear where we should find resources to set such limits.
Rapid development in the area of assisted reproductive technology (ART), has benefited mankind by addressing reproductive problems. However, the emergence of new technologies and techniques raises various issues and discussions among physicians and the masses, especially on issues related to bioethics. Apart from solutions provided using conventional bioethics framework, solutions can also be derived via a complementary framework of bioethics based on the Higher Objectives of the Divine Law (Maqasid al-Shariah) in tackling these problems. This approach in the Islamic World has been applied and localised in the Malaysian context. Thus, this paper highlights a conceptual theoretical framework for solving current bioethical issues, with a special focus on ART in the Malaysian context, and compares this theory with conventional theories of bioethics.
In this paper, the author aims to show that transhumanists are confused about their own conception of the posthuman: transhumanists anticipate radical transformation of the human through technology and at the same time assume that the criteria to determine what is “normal” and what is “enhanced” are univocal, both in our present time and in the future. Inspired by Nietzsche’s notion of the Overhuman, the author argues that the slightest “historical and phenomenological sense” discloses copious variations of criteria, both diachronic and synchronic, for what can be considered “normal” and “enhanced.” Radical transformation through technology does not simply enable us to become “stronger,” “smarter,” or “healthier,” but it can and often will also change the very standard or yardstick with which we measure what counts as “stronger,” “smarter,” or “healthier.” Put yet differently: new and emerging technologies are not neutral means but often bring about different and, from our current perspective, foreign standards for determining what are “normal” and “enhanced” capacities. Since the qualitative meanings of these terms are themselves not fixed, it is unintelligible and too reassuring to simply predict that new technologies will enhance human beings.