Thursday, October 27, 2005

Call for Proposals: Enhancement & Rights, May 26-28, 2006, Stanford Law School

Human Enhancement Technologies and Human Rights

May 26-28, 2006

Stanford University Law School, Stanford, California

Organized by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

Co-Sponsors*: Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics, Stanford Center for Law and the Biosciences

*Sponsors list in formation

Much of the criticism of enhancement technologies has focused on the potential for increased discrimination against women, people of color, the poor, the differently enabled, or "unenhanced" humans. Some bioethicists have proposed a global treaty to ban enhancement technologies as "crimes against humanity."

Defenders of enhancement argue that the use of biotechnologies is a fundamental human right, inseparable from the defense of bodily autonomy, reproductive freedom, free expression and cognitive liberty. While acknowledging real risks from genetic, prosthetic, and cognitive enhancement, defenders of enhancement believe that bans on the consensual use of new technologies would be an even greater threat to human rights.

Health care, disability and reproductive rights activists have argued that access to technology empowers full and equal participation in society. On the same grounds a generalized right to "technological empowerment" might connect defenders of enhancement technologies with disability activists, reproductive rights activists with would-be parents seeking fertility treatments, the transgendered with aesthetic body modifiers, drug policy reformers and anti-aging researchers with advocates for dignity in dying.

Yet, what, if any, limits should be considered to human enhancement? On what grounds can citizens be prevented from modifying their own genes or brains? How far should reproductive rights be extended? Might enhancement reduce the diversity of humanity in the name of optimal health? Or, conversely, might enhancements inspire such an unprecedented diversity of human beings that they strain the limits of liberal tolerance and social solidarity? Can we exercise full freedom of thought if we can't exercise control over our own brains using safe, available technologies? Can we ensure that enhancement technologies are safe and equitably distributed? When are regulatory efforts simply covert, illiberal value judgments?

Between the ideological extremes of absolute prohibition and total laissez-faire that dominate popular discussions of human enhancement there are many competing agendas, hopes and fears. How can the language of human rights guide us in framing the critical issues? How will enhancement technologies transform the demands we make of human rights?

With the Human Enhancement and Human Rights conference we seek to begin a conversation with the human rights community, bioethicists, legal scholars, and political activists about the relationship of enhancement technologies to human rights, cognitive liberty and bodily autonomy. It is time to begin the defense of human rights in the era of human enhancement.


Examples of topics that might be addressed:

Day One: Human Enhancement and Control of the Body

For instance, papers might address:
- How much morphological diversity can the polity sustain?
- Animal-human chimeric enhancement and animal rights
- Reproductive cloning: Irrelevant, futile or an important battle?
- Disability rights and cyborg assistive technology
- Life extension and the right to die: Two sides of the same coin?
- Germline engineering and the consent of the future generations
- Procreative liberty and the genetic enhancement of children
- The medicalization of transgenderism
- Cosmetic surgery and future body modification

Day Two: Cognitive Enhancement Technology

For instance, papers might address:
- Enhancing capacities for citizenship
- Social equality and cognitive enhancement
- Freedom of thought as a basis for rights to use cognitive enhancement
- Psychoactive drug law reform
- Religious liberty and entheogens
- Regulating the risks of neural implants and brain machines
- The myth of the "authentic self"
- Challenges to human personhood and citizenship from cognitive enhancement
- Use of technologies of personality modification in criminal rehabilitation

Instructions for Submitting Presentations

Include all of the following information in a two-page proposal for your presentation
- Title of presentation
- Type of presentation: paper, panel, poster, workshop
- Abstract (25-100 words) for inclusion in the conference program
- Media to be used and audiovisual equipment needed (if any).
- Designated contact person (only one per proposal)
- Complete name, title, organization, address, phone and fax numbers, and e-mail address for each session presenter
- Brief biographical sketch of each presenter

Please submit your proposal electronically to the conference chair James Hughes at

The presenters of accepted proposals will need to pre-register for the conference by April 15, 2006 at the reduced rate of $100 in order to be included in the program.

For more information please contact the conference chair James Hughes Ph.D., Public Policy Studies, Trinity College, Williams 229B, 300 Summit St., Hartford CT 06106,, (860) 297-2376.

Timeline for Presenters

Proposals due by: January 1, 2006
Notification of acceptance: March 1, 2006
Deadline for pre-registration by presenters: April 15, 2006

Publications You may submit your full paper for consideration for publication in The Journal of Evolution and Technology. A special issue on Human Enhancement and Human Rights will be published in the Spring of 2006 [] but papers will also be welcome on these topics at any time.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Foreign Policy Mag Predicts End of Chinese Communist Party

From The Epoch Times: “Here today, gone tomorrow.”

That’s what the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will be, according to an expert prediction published in Foreign Policy magazine this week. In a special 35th anniversary edition of the magazine, 16 leading thinkers identified “endangered species in our midst”—16 institutions, values or ideas now taken for granted but whose days are numbered.

The list includes items ranging from polio to auto emissions. The CCP was the only political party singled out.

“Inexorable forces are arrayed against the long-term survival of the Communist Party in China,” wrote Minxin Pei, the director of the China Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and author of the CCP prediction in Foreign Policy. “Today, the world has no septuagenarian one-party regimes—and for good reason.”

One interesting question is whether or not China's embrace of Brave New World-style state-driven eugenics will survive the possible fall of the Chinese Communist Party...