Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies


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Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Overview of technopolitics


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Comment on this entry

Ray Kurzweil, Google’s Director Of Engineering, Wants To Bring The Dead Back To Life


December 31, 2012

“Inventor Ray Kurzweil hopes to develop ways for humans to live forever, and while he’s at it, bring back his dead father. Behind him is the support of a tech giant. This month, Kurzweil, a futurist, stepped into the role of Director of Engineering at Google, focusing on machine learning and language processing.” - Huffpost



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COMMENTS



Posted by jasoncstone  on  01/03  at  02:35 PM

Recently, I've been trying to reconcile my interest in human enhancement through technology with my deep respect for humanity as a natural phenomena and I'd like to propose a compromise. I propose that there be an "age of consent" at which "natural born humans" can elect for themselves if they would like to be "technologically augmented" (e.g. robotics, gene therapy, smart drugs, implants, etc.).

Necessary medical interventions would be available before that age and human rights theorist would need to define a working definition of what a "natural human" is so that we can better understand what we are seeking to preserve.

For instance, babies born from natural combinations of parents' genes through embryo selection may still be considered "natural humans". Those enhanced with artificial physiological or genetic features, especially those that could be transmitted to their offspring, may not be considered "natural humans" and a parent may be seen as violating the rights of their child if they were to modify their children in these ways.

Why shouldn't we ask that humans be born natural and that they be protected from whatever vulnerabilities that may entail until the age of consent? We already protect children from things like sex and alcohol. This seems like a natural role for a parent to play for a child and it preserves humanity as a natural phenomena with all it's unknown properties and potential. Perhaps the augmentations available in 100 or 1000 years will be very different from the ones that are available today. Why go about replacing the human phenomena with the first wave of fads in augmentation technology?

I think enhancement is a right that's hard to deny, but it should only occur with informed consent and it should not endanger the perpetuation of "natural humans". I think the ethical way forward is to cultivate human nature by guiding it towards expressions that minimize injury to oneself and others while preserving the somewhat mysterious properties imbued to us by nature. Modifying the human race to give it more utility and manageability is something like replacing grass with astroturf. Could there be any greater crime against humanity?




Posted by jasoncstone  on  10/22  at  01:52 AM

I misstated something in the last paragraph. The last couple sentences should read:

"Replacing the human race with something artificial that has more utility and manageability is something like replacing grass with astroturf. Could there be any greater crime against humanity?"

I'm not fundamentally opposed to modifying the human body or Transhumanism and please don't interpret my above comment as a personal attack on Ray Kurzweil. I've been thinking about similar ideas for awhile and the above comment states some of the compromises that I feel feel pretty comfortable with. I'm a reasonable person and might change my opinions if given good reasons to do so smile




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