Human Enhancement

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Preventing illness through genetic manipulation in the (pre-)embryonic stage, retinal implants for pilots in order to improve their vision at night or taking Ritalin to increase your ability during examinations – interventions such as these were pie in the sky for a long time. Science and technology are now increasingly being used to overcome the limitations or vulnerability of the human body and human existence. This raises all kinds of questions. During this third ‘Challenging Society Session’ on Human Enhancement on 22 February 2018, neuroscientist and neuroethicist Prof. Barbara Sahakian was challenged by UvA Prof. Amade M'charek to take a critical look on the theme 'Human Enhancement'.

Do scientists always take the social and global consequences of such interventions into consideration? Do they take sufficient account of socio-economic differences and are all innovations in this field accessible to everyone? Could it perhaps diminish the social acceptance of diversity or impairments, so that the social pressure to apply human enhancement will become great?  Are we actually able to adequately predict what the risks of these kinds of technologies will be in the long term and on a global scale? Or should scientists leave such questions to society and politicians?

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Human Enhancement

During this third ‘Challenging Society Session’ on Human Enhancement on 22 February 2018, we have asked neuroscientist and neuroethicist Prof. Barbara Sahakian to make a link between her field of study and the theme ‘Human Enhancement’, she was challenged by Amade M’charek who examined this topic from unexpected perspectives. If you wish to watch the videoregistration of this evening, click on the button below.

About Prof. Barbara Sahakian

Sahakian is Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of Cambridge Department of Psychiatry and Medical Research Council (MRC)/Welcome Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute. She has an international reputation in the fields of cognitive psychopharmacology, neuroethics, neuropsychology, neuropsychiatry and neuroimaging. Her research is aimed at understanding the neural basis of cognitive, emotional and behavioural dysfunction in order to develop more effective pharmacological and psychological treatments. However, she is well aware that drugs and other forms of enhancement are increasingly being used by healthy people who want to benefit from the boost they can give to performance.

About UvA Challenger Prof. Amade M’Charek

Prof. Amade M’Charek (Anthropology of Science; ERC Consolidator grant ‘RaceFaceID’ project) focuses on the circulation of knowledge between lab and society, and on the societal implications of studies of genetics and race. In addition, given her anthropology of science work on race and identity, she is the ideal challenger to raise issues that deal with potential technological threats to human biodiversity/neurodiversity and homogenisation. Should we appreciate the mitigation of human fragility (mortality, cognitive/bodily limitations) that human enhancement might bring, or should we rather re-evaluate that fragility itself, which is perhaps essential to the human condition and societal interactions?

Gepubliceerd door  Universiteit van Amsterdam

25 juni 2018