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Transcript of Human Enhancement
The Beginnings of Human Enhancement Human Enhancement Any attempt to temporarily or permanently overcome the current limitations of the human body through natural or artificial means.
This could mean anything that
has ever been made to benefit
a person. What is it? Enhancing the capabilities of our bodies is in our nature. It is what has allowed our species to survive as long as we have. Some of the earliest forms of human enhancement were for simple things, such as hunting, protection, and mating. Where Are We Today? by: Натан Перкинс Today's technologies of enhancement surpass the wildest imaginations of our ancestors. There are specific roads of human enhancement that are advancing independently, some faster than others. these roads address everything from reproductive technology to drugs that allow the mind to pass it's limits. Reproductive Technology Reproductive technology encompasses all current and anticipated uses of technology in human and animal reproduction, including assisted reproductive technology, contraception and others. Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is the use of reproductive technology to treat infertility. This is today the only application of reproductive technology to increase reproduction that is used routinely. Examples include in vitro fertilization. Physical Enhancement There are many different subgroups when it comes to physical enhancement. The largest of these are cosmetic, performance-enhancing drugs, medical implants, and my favorite, functional enhancement and replacement technologies. Mental Technologies Nootropics, also known as smart drugs, is one of the most important and controversial topics in human enhancement. They purportedly improve mental functions such as cognition, memory, intelligence, motivation, attention, and concentration. Ethics Since the 1990s, several academics have risen to become advocates of the case for human enhancement while others (such as the members of President Bush's Council on Bioethics) have become its most outspoken critics. Transhumanism (H+) Tranhumanism is an international intellectual and cultural movement that supports the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities. Transhumanist thinkers study the potential benefits and dangers of emerging technologies that could overcome fundamental human limitations, as well as study the ethical matters involved in developing and using such technologies. They predict that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into beings with such greatly expanded abilities as to merit the label "posthuman". The President's Council on Bioethics The President's Council on Bioethics (PCBE) was a group of individuals appointed by United States President George W. Bush to advise his administration on bioethics. Established on November 28, 2001, by Executive Order 13237, the Council was directed to "advise the President on bioethical issues that may emerge as a consequence of advances in biomedical science and technology". Critics such as Elizabeth Blackburn, who was fired from the Commission, accused it of being set up to justify President Bush's positions on stem cell research and abortion, and his alleged distortions of science.
Bioethicist Leslie A. Meltzer accused the Council of wrapping "political and religious agendas in the guise of dignity," and described them as largely Christian-affiliated neoconservatives; philosophers and political scientists rather than bench scientists. Meltzer said that Council members mischaracterized the positions of their opponents and used invective rather than addressing the merits of the arguments. What is to Come Human Genetic Engineering Human genetic engineering is the alteration of an individual's genotype with the aim of choosing the phenotype of a newborn or changing the existing phenotype of a child or adult. It holds the promise of curing genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis, and increasing the immunity of people to viruses. It is speculated that genetic engineering could be used to change physical appearance, metabolism, and even improve mental faculties like memory and intelligence, although for now these uses seem to be of lower priority to researchers and are therefore limited to science fiction. Brain Implant Brain implants are technological devices that connect directly to a biological subject's brain - usually placed on the surface of the brain, or attached to the brain's cortex. A common purpose of modern brain implants and the focus of much current research is establishing a biomedical prosthesis circumventing areas in the brain that have become dysfunctional after a stroke or other head injuries. In June 2009, Barack Obama's administration informed members of the Council that their services were no longer needed. Through a spokesperson, Obama made clear that he intended to replace the committee with a body that "offers practical policy options" rather than philosophical guidance. Nanomedicine Nanomedicine is the medical application of nanotechnology. Nanomedicine ranges from the medical applications of nanomaterials, to nanoelectronic biosensors, and even possible future applications of molecular nanotechnology. Current problems for nanomedicine involve understanding the issues related to toxicity and environmental impact of nanoscale materials. One nanometer is one-millionth of a millimeter. Mind Uploading The hypothetical process of transferring or copying a conscious mind from a brain to a non-biological substrate by scanning and mapping a biological brain in detail and copying its state into a computer system or another computational device. The computer would have to run a simulation model so faithful to the original that it would behave in essentially the same way as the original brain, or for all practical purposes, indistinguishably.The simulated mind is assumed to be part of a virtual reality simulated world, supported by an anatomic 3D body simulation model. Alternatively, the simulated mind could be assumed to reside in a computer inside (or connected to) a humanoid robot or a biological body, replacing its brain. An exocortex is a theoretical artificial external information processing system that would augment a brain's biological high-level cognitive processes. An individual's exocortex would be composed of external memory modules, processors, IO devices and software systems that would interact with, and augment, a person's biological brain. Typically this interaction is described as being conducted through a direct brain-computer interface, making these extensions functionally part of the individual's mind. Individuals with significant exocortices could be classified as cyborgs or transhumans. Exocortex Works Cited http://www.remem.org/ Hughes, James (2004). Human Enhancement on the Agenda. http://humanityplus.org/ http://www.europarl.europa.eu/stoa/ http://ethics.calpoly.edu/NSF_report.pdf Fukuyama, Francis (2002). Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution. Farrar Straus & Giroux.