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Ethics of human technological enhancement.

002Ethics of human technological enhancement.

Blue sky Policy Alert 002

FP7 themes health agro ict nano energy environment transport ssh space security
ERA goals mobility infrastucture rtd institutions knowledge sharing  joint programming  cooperation 
Author(s)Ian Miles, Joe Ravetz, Rafael Popper, Thordis Sveinsdottir, Yanuar Nugroho
Contributor(s)Julia De-Clerk, Dalina Dumitrescu, Gabriele Griffin, Dirk Johann, Javier Medina, Konrad Miciukiewicz
ManifestationGradual development
Potential impacts in Europe
people's lives
legislation & regulation
economy & business
defence & security
government & politics
environment & ecosystems
science & technology
Importance for EUMajor
Strategic attentionby 2030 Moderate  by 2050 Major
Type of impactExtremely positive
Inspired byBrainstorming session and group discussions in the iKNOW Workshop in Manchester (February 2010)
Related to
Keywords, , , , , ,

Ethics of human technological enhancement.

Research topic

Human technological enhancement (HTE) is a fast moving trend and which promises much, but which has important ethical considerations that need to be assessed for the successful furthering of this endeavour. Current examples of HTE are bionic limbs used by amputees, and implantable microchips used for ID and tracking purposes and in experimental procedures to restore eyesight and hearing. Ongoing developments within the field of human enhancement also include cosmetic surgery and lifestyle drugs.



Research should pinpoint and assess the strategic implications of human technological enhancement, i.e. what impact these activities will have on people’s lives (e.g. health benefits/detriments), contemporary society (e.g. new inequalities) and culture (new ideologies and attitudes to the body and mind), and business ventures (e.g. IPR). Research could further identify political and media discourses surrounding human enhancement in order to understand the development of debates around the issue. Research should take into account basic philosophical questions such as, ‘what makes us human’ and examine the changing boundaries between humanity and technology. The emergence of movements that support and oppose various forms of human enhancement is another central research theme.


Expected impact

The research will a) increase awareness of ethical dimensions of human technological enhancement; b) devise strategies for appropriate policy responses across EU; c) inform common legislation and regulation across EU; d) inform business enterprise and innovation in this field; e) inform educational and health strategies on the subject of human enhancement; f) inform the general public about a spectrum of developments that are liable to profoundly shape culture and society in coming decades (even without a strong transhumanist movement).


Importance for Europe

Human technological enhancement is a growing field and one that can potentially have enormous effects on contemporary society. It is vital that policy response which would aim to shape and regulate this industry is informed by research that could guide member states in forming their legislation and listening to emerging voices and opinions.


Disclaimer: The wild card presented in this brief may not happen at all or in the near future. iKNOW is a new EU funded research project aimed to explore surprising events (wild cards) and emerging issues (weak signals) potentially shaping or shaking the future of Europe and the world.