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Human enhancement and technological uncertainty: Essays on the promise and peril of emerging technology
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Essay I explores brain machine interface (BMI) technologies. These make direct communication between the brain and a machine possible by means of electrical stimuli. This essay reviews the existing and emerging technologies in this field and offers an inquiry into the ethical problems that are likely to emerge.

Essay II, co-written with professor Sven-Ove Hansson, presents a novel procedure to engage the public in deliberations on the potential impacts of technology.  This procedure, convergence seminar, is a form of scenario-based discussion that is founded on the idea of hypothetical retrospection. The theoretical background and the results of the five seminars are presented.

Essay III discusses moral bioenhancement, an instance of human enhancement that alters a person’s dispositions, emotions or behavior. Moral bioenhancement could be carried out in three different ways. The first strategy is behavioral enhancement. The second strategy, favored by prominent defenders of moral enhancement, is emotional enhancement. The third strategy is the enhancement of moral dispositions, such as empathy and inequity aversion. I argue that we ought to implement a combination of the second and third strategies.

Essay IV considers the possibility and potential desirability of sensory enhancement. It is proposed that existing sensory modalities in vertebrate animals are proof of concept of what is biologically possible to create in humans. Three considerations on the normative aspects of sensory enhancement are also presented in this essay.

Essay V rejects disease prioritarianism, the idea that the healthcare system ought to prioritize the treatment of diseases. Instead, an approach that focuses on what medicine can accomplish is proposed.

Essay VI argues that from the idea that species have an intrinsic value and that humanity has a collective responsibility to protect animal species from extinction, the conclusion that we ought to recreate species follows.

Essay VII argues that unknown existential risks have not been properly addressed. It proposes a heuristic for doing so, and a concrete strategy. This strategy consists in building refuges that could withstand a large number of catastrophic events.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2014. , v, 34 p.
Series
Theses in philosophy from the Royal Institute of Technology, ISSN 1650-8831 ; 50
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Philosophy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-156724ISBN: 978-91-7595-341-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-156724DiVA: diva2:768647
Public defence
2014-12-12, D2, Lindstetsvägen 5, KTH, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20141204

Available from: 2014-12-04 Created: 2014-12-02 Last updated: 2014-12-18Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Brain Machine Interface and Human Enhancement - An Ethical Review
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Brain Machine Interface and Human Enhancement - An Ethical Review
2013 (English)In: Neuroethics, ISSN 1874-5490, E-ISSN 1874-5504, Vol. 6, no 3, 617-625 p.Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Brain machine interface (BMI) technology makes direct communication between the brain and a machine possible by means of electrodes. This paper reviews the existing and emerging technologies in this field and offers a systematic inquiry into the relevant ethical problems that are likely to emerge in the following decades.

Keyword
Brain computer interface, Brain machine interface, Neuroethics, Bioethics, Electroencephalography, Neuromotor prosthesis, Autonomy, Privacy
National Category
Philosophy Medical Ethics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-106577 (URN)10.1007/s12152-012-9176-2 (DOI)000326604300014 ()2-s2.0-84887997252 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20131206

Available from: 2012-12-04 Created: 2012-12-04 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
2. European Public Deliberation on Brain Machine Interface Technology: Five Convergence Seminars
Open this publication in new window or tab >>European Public Deliberation on Brain Machine Interface Technology: Five Convergence Seminars
2013 (English)In: Science and Engineering Ethics, ISSN 1353-3452, E-ISSN 1471-5546, Vol. 19, no 3, 1071-1086 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We present a novel procedure to engage the public in ethical deliberations on the potential impacts of brain machine interface technology. We call this procedure a convergence seminar, a form of scenario-based group discussion that is founded on the idea of hypothetical retrospection. The theoretical background of this procedure and the results of five seminars are presented.

Keyword
Brain machine interface, Ethics, Public deliberation, Hypothetical retrospection, Decision making under risk
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-128470 (URN)10.1007/s11948-012-9425-0 (DOI)000323106500024 ()2-s2.0-84883812957 (Scopus ID)
Funder
EU, FP7, Seventh Framework Programme
Note

QC 20130912

Available from: 2013-09-12 Created: 2013-09-12 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
3. What to Enhance: Behaviour, Emotion or Disposition?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>What to Enhance: Behaviour, Emotion or Disposition?
2014 (English)In: Neuroethics, ISSN 1874-5490, E-ISSN 1874-5504, Vol. 7, no 3, 253-261 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

As we learn more about the human brain, novel biotechnological means to modulate human behaviour and emotional dispositions become possible. These technologies could be used to enhance our morality. Moral bioenhancement, an instance of human enhancement, alters a person’s dispositions, emotions or behaviour in order to make that person more moral. I will argue that moral bioenhancement could be carried out in three different ways. The first strategy, well known from science fiction, is behavioural enhancement. The second strategy, favoured by prominent defenders of moral bioenhancement, is emotional enhancement. The third strategy is the enhancement of moral dispositions, such as empathy and inequity aversion. I will argue that we ought to implement a combination of the second and third strategies. Furthermore, I will argue that the usual arguments against other instances of human enhancement do not apply to moral bioenhancement, or apply only to the first strategy, behavioural enhancement.

Keyword
Empathy, Freedom, Human enhancement, Moral bioenhancement, Neuroethics
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-156722 (URN)10.1007/s12152-014-9204-5 (DOI)000346928000001 ()2-s2.0-84912113630 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20150114

Available from: 2014-12-02 Created: 2014-12-02 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
4. Sensory Enhancement
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Sensory Enhancement
2015 (English)In: Handbook of Neuroethics, Springer Netherlands, 2015, 827-838 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Sensory enhancement is a form of human enhancement that aims to extend the sensory capabilities of a person beyond what is possible for a normal human. Sensory enhancement can consist in either an enhancement that improves a sense or that extends that sense to perceive light, sound, tactile stimuli, or chemical traces that are beyond the human range. A sensory enhancement may also add a new sense, such as electroreception or modulate a sense so that it can perform completely new functions, such as echolocation (biosonar). This chapter argues that sensory enhancement could be implemented in mainly two ways: either via the application of digital technology or by genetic engineering of the human body. The potential of augmented reality (AR) and of brain-computer Interface (BCI) technology is also explored in the section on digital enhancement. The section on genetic engineering will mainly be concerned with the potential of horizontal gene transfer (HGT). Three arguments on the normative aspects of sensory enhancement are also presented in this chapter. The first considers the instrumental value of being able to perceive new forms of artistic expression. The second concerns the idea of diversity and whether sensory enhancement could increase human diversity. The third argument departs from the “capabilities approach,” formulated by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, and sketches out the position that we may be deprived in comparison to some possible future enhanced people, even if we do not regret being so.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Netherlands, 2015
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-157043 (URN)10.1007/978-94-007-4707-4_106 (DOI)2-s2.0-84944576284 (Scopus ID)978-940074707-4 (ISBN)
Note

Updated from manuscript to book chapter.

QC 20160201

Available from: 2014-12-04 Created: 2014-12-04 Last updated: 2016-02-01Bibliographically approved
5. Should Extinction be Forever?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Should Extinction be Forever?
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-157042 (URN)
Note

QS 2014

Available from: 2014-12-04 Created: 2014-12-04 Last updated: 2014-12-05Bibliographically approved
6. Disease Prioritarianism: A Flawed Principle
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Disease Prioritarianism: A Flawed Principle
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-157041 (URN)
Note

QS 2014

Available from: 2014-12-04 Created: 2014-12-04 Last updated: 2014-12-05Bibliographically approved
7. Existential Risks: Exploring a Robust Risk Reduction Strategy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Existential Risks: Exploring a Robust Risk Reduction Strategy
2015 (English)In: Science and Engineering Ethics, ISSN 1353-3452, E-ISSN 1471-5546, Vol. 21, no 3, 541-554 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A small but growing number of studies have aimed to understand, assess and reduce existential risks, or risks that threaten the continued existence of mankind. However, most attention has been focused on known and tangible risks. This paper proposes a heuristic for reducing the risk of black swan extinction events. These events are, as the name suggests, stochastic and unforeseen when they happen. Decision theory based on a fixed model of possible outcomes cannot properly deal with this kind of event. Neither can probabilistic risk analysis. This paper will argue that the approach that is referred to as engineering safety could be applied to reducing the risk from black swan extinction events. It will also propose a conceptual sketch of how such a strategy may be implemented: isolated, self-sufficient, and continuously manned underground refuges. Some characteristics of such refuges are also described, in particular the psychosocial aspects. Furthermore, it is argued that this implementation of the engineering safety strategy safety barriers would be effective and plausible and could reduce the risk of an extinction event in a wide range of possible (known and unknown) scenarios. Considering the staggering opportunity cost of an existential catastrophe, such strategies ought to be explored more vigorously.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2015
Keyword
Existential risk Black swan Engineering safety Safety barriers Uncertainty Shelters Global catastrophe
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-156723 (URN)10.1007/s11948-014-9559-3 (DOI)000354406600001 ()2-s2.0-84901581861 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20150608

Available from: 2014-12-02 Created: 2014-12-02 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved

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