Printed: 2019-04-21

Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies





IEET Link: https://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/hauskeller20130912

Better Humans? Understanding the Enhancement Project, by Michael Hauskeller

Andy Miah


timeshighereducation.co.uk


http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/books/better-humans-understanding-the-enhancement-project-by-michael-hauskeller/2007111.article

September 12, 2013

Andy Miah on the pros and cons of humanity 2.0 If you could enhance one aspect of your biology, what would it be? Would you use cosmetic surgery to make yourself more beautiful? How about cognitive enhancers to improve your memory or wit? What if you and your partner could take love pills to iron out any problems in your relationship?

What if you just want to live a longer and healthier life? What would you be prepared to do?

These questions are discussed in Michael Hauskeller’s new book, a philosophical exploration of the arguments surrounding human enhancement. Hauskeller is sceptical about the value of such aspirations. We know this even before Better Humans? begins, as his acknowledgements thank, among others, Carl Elliott, Walter Glannon and Erik Parens – all well-known critics of human enhancement.

He goes on to build up each example of enhancement only to knock it down, broadly rejecting the claim that there is any uncontested value to human enhancement. Instead, he sees pro-enhancement arguments as failing to grasp fundamental aspects of the human condition. Cognitive improvements and artificial brain implants will leave us devoid of any authenticity or sense of self, he argues; defeating ageing will lead us to devalue life, or deny ourselves crucial mental maturation. Improving beauty, moreover, he sees as impossible, since “our standards of beauty are so much tied to the human form”. Cue the current “bagel head” fashion in Japan, which involves injecting saline solution into the forehead to create a bagel-shaped lump.

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Professor Andy Miah, PhD (@andymiah), is Chair in Science Communication & Digital Media, in the School of Environment & Life Sciences, University of Salford, Manchester. He is also Global Director for the Centre for Policy and Emerging Technologies, Fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, USA and Fellow at FACT, the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, UK. He is currently part of a European Commission project called Digital Futures 2050 and of the Ministerial Advisory Group on Digital Participation in the Scottish Government.

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