At this blog, we often write about the ethical considerations of various issues. Sometimes, but less frequently, we’ll discuss cutting-edge transformative technologies, usually designated as Nano (advanced nanotechnology), Bio (genetic engineering and biotechnology), Info (information technology, including artificial intelligence), and Cogno (cognitive technology, including virtual reality). But since we are the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, it is important for us to do both—to connect our ethical concerns with projected technological developments.
These are the four main Program Areas of the IEET:
Securing the Future - Work with like-minded organizations to identify and advocate for global solutions to threats to the future of civilization.
Rights of the Person - Engage the human rights community, legal scholars, reproductive rights activists, the transgendered community, and advocates of public health approaches to illicit drugs in a campaign to deepen and broaden the concept of human rights.
Longer, Better Lives - Make the case for longer healthier lives, addressing objections to life extension, from the alleged problem of overpopulation to the threat of ennui; consult with senior citizens groups and organizations of the disabled to help them challenge ageist and ableist attitudes that discourage the full utilization of health technology.
Envisioning the Future - Engage with culture critics, artists, writers, filmmakers and consumers to explore the biopolitics implicit in depictions of technology in literature, film and television.
The IEET Program Area page describes our goals in broad strokes. It’s sort of a general outline or a skeleton. To put more meat on those bones, we can make a list of issues that we are concerned about, place them within the relevant program areas, and then look at the emerging technologies that may have significant impact on those issues.
In this particular exercise, I’m going to leave out the last area, Envisioning the Future, since it is somewhat less issue-oriented than the other three. But let’s look at a preliminary list of issues related to the other three areas:
Notice that each issue listed above is shown as being related to two IEET program areas, and in many cases an argument could be made that all three areas are actually involved. That indicates the complexity of the problems we’re concerned about and the overall interconnectedness not only of our programs but also of the emerging technologies we’re studying.
This table is not intended to be a complete or comprehensive listing, just a first take on connecting issues and goals with technologies. Feel free to provide feedback!