Conference Call for Papers: Human & Machine: Posthumanism in Technology, Culture, and the Arts

This might be of interest to some people:

The Ewha Trans-Humanities Research Team will host an international
conference on “Human & Machine: Posthumanism in Technology, Culture
and the Arts” from June 1st to 2nd, 2012 and invites suitable
contributions for presentation at the conference..

Genetic engineering and digital technology are more than just
supplement of human intellectual and physical ability; they seem to
bring fundamental changes to the nature of what it means to be human.
Such changes have been seen in how philosophy, literature, art,
technology and cultural discourse view the issue of individual and
group identities, the nature of human characteristics, the meaning of
life, the status of humans in nature and other relevant issues taken
from ethical and political perspectives. In this conference, the
subject of humans and technology, both of which are represented in the
debate on posthumanism, will be deeply discussed from a
multidisciplinary perspective focusing on the topics of: Human Body
Transformation in Science, Technology, and Art; Ethical Issues on
Human Enhancement; Representations of Posthumans in Popular Culture;
and Posthumanistic Impact on Human Ontology.

The conference poses the question as to whether or not technology has
influenced the perspective of being human and the nature of humanity
itself. The conference examine the aspects of the human body that have
been transformed through technology and their significance: How have
physical transformations through prostheses, implants, genetic
engineering, and organ transplants influenced human identity? How are
the ethical issues, that such transformations generate, demonstrated
in the arts? Given the phenomenon that human beings can reconstruct
themselves with machines as well as utilize machines, what is the
meaning of post-human embedded within the interaction between
human-like robots and human beings, or the combination of technology
and human-beings? These questions are to be discussed in the
conference.

Human enhancement and transformation technology, which cutting edge
technology will make possible, demand our serious consideration since
the diverse aspects of being human in the future rely on a variety of
ethical and political issues including the rationality and validity of
the application of such technologies. The conference endeavors to find
answers to the fundamental questions of how to define what is the norm
in the nature of being human, and what natural rights for human beings
are, followed by which values are to be respected in the era of
cutting edge technology.

Furthermore, the conference examines aspects of representations of
posthumans like human clones, androids, cyborgs and aliens which
depict new forms of human beings, through the image of the future
presented in popular culture such as SF movies, animations, SF novels,
music videos and TV commercials. And also, there will be a discussion
of public awareness on the notions of naturalness, otherness, class,
utopia and dystopia related with such popular culture.
As human beings attain the ability and skill to reconstruct their
bodies through substitution, the boundaries between the human body and
its image, the lines between what is artificial and what is natural,
and the distinctions between nature and culture disappear. This
phenomenon raises various ontological issues regarding the
relationships of the real body and the virtual body, life and
lifelessness, and the subject and its surroundings or ‘others’.
Posthumanism pursues, on one hand, a liberal and post-ideological
relativism, but on the other hand, it tends to combine with the
critical theories, materialism and feminism. How can individual
transhumans and posthumans be positioned in social systems and
relations? Indeed, do human beings have the freedom to choose a body
for themselves? If so, how and where can we apply our enhanced
abilities? To what extent can it be considered an individual matter or
a social and political matter? Through posing the issues and problems
on modern anthropocentricism, this conference reconsiders the human
ontology that is constantly changing and being reconstructed rather
than the one that is defined by identity in the nature of
transcendental property.

A tentative schedule of the conference is as follows:

June 1st
Session 1: Human Body Transformation in Science, Technology, and Art
Session 2: Ethical Issues on Human Enhancement
Roundtable Discussions: all speakers and discussants will participate in

June 2nd
Session 3: Representations of Posthumans in Popular Culture
Session 4: Posthumanistic Impact on Human Ontology
Roundtable Discussions: all speakers and discussants will participate in

Confirmed Speakers include Julian Savulescu (Oxford University), Dónal
O’Mathúna (Dublin City University), Michael Hauskeller (University of
Exeter), Thomas Philbeck (NYIT), Stefan Sorgner (Universität
Erlangen-Nürnberg),  and Jens Eder (Johannes Gutenberg University,
Mainz).

If you like to present a paper at the conference, please submit an
abstract of not more than 400 words by 29 February 2012 to Dr.
Eunryung Kim, e-mail: elysak@ewha.ac.kr.

Wallace Kuralt’s era of sterilization

The Charlotte Observer has recently published an article on the story of Wallace Kuralt, a primary figure behind the eugenics movement in North Carolina. The article weaves between Kuralt’s personal story, his struggle to find a job during the depression, his desires and motivations, with the broader history of eugenics in North Carolina and the United States:

Compassionate. Visionary. A champion of women and the poor.

That’s the reputation that Wallace Kuralt built as Mecklenburg County’s welfare director from 1945 to 1972. Today, the building where Charlotte’s poor come for help bears his name – a name made even more prominent when his newscaster son, Charles Kuralt, rose to fame.

But as architect of Mecklenburg’s program of eugenic sterilization – state-ordered surgery to stop the poor and disabled from bearing children – Kuralt helped write one of the most shameful chapters of North Carolina history.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Our Post-Human Futures Conference

Living Archives team member, Gregor Wolbring, will be speaking on the body and prosthetics at the “Frontiers in Research: Our Post-Human Futures” conference at the University of Ottawa on November 15, 2011.

The University of Ottawa is pleased to present the thirteenth annual Frontiers in Research lectures. This year’s theme is Our Post-Human Future .

During the past decade, human perfection and even immortality have become topics of renewed interest due to groundbreaking scientific advancements, and are now much more tangible and potentially achievable goals. The quest for human improvement through biomedical means appears to be unstoppable in the developed world. But this drive towards the “post-human” has also given rise to discussion, debate, conflict and a great deal of research on where to take the human species.

Frontiers in Research: Our Post-Human Future will explore these questions in light of developments in the fields of genetics, neuroscience and prosthetics, and their social, political, economic, ethical and religious implications.

For more information on the conference, click here.

FIXED: a Kickstarter plea

Aimee Mullins' Legs

Some of Aimee Mullins' legs

Oakland-based filmmaker Regan Brashear is launching her film FIXED: The Science / Fiction of Human Enhancement and is running a Kickstarter campaign to help with funding for the film’s clean-up.  You can start with donations of $1 and up–details about the campaign and film here.  The campaign runs until 9.03am EDT, August 31, so donate NOW.  A brief excerpt from the site:

What’s the film about?  What does “disabled” mean when a man with no legs can run faster than many Olympic sprinters? With prenatal screening able to predict hundreds of probable conditions, who should determine what kind of people get to be born? If you could augment your body’s abilities in any way imaginable, what would you do and why? From pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to neural implants and bionic limbs, researchers around the world are hard at work developing a myriad of technologies to fix or enhance the human body, but what does it mean to design “better humans” and do we want to? FIXED follows three remarkable people: Continue reading

Carl Elliott on Human Subjects and Big Pharma

from the NYT, July 28th, an Op-Ed piece by bioethicist Carl Elliott:

LAST month, the Archives of Internal Medicine published a scathing reassessment of a 12-year-old research study of Neurontin, a seizure drug made by Pfizer. The study, which had included more than 2,700 subjects and was carried out by Parke-Davis (now part of Pfizer), was notable for how poorly it was conducted. The investigators were inexperienced and untrained, and the design of the study was so flawed it generated few if any useful conclusions. Even more alarming, 11 patients in the study died and 73 more experienced “serious adverse events.” Yet there have been few headlines, no demands for sanctions or apologies, no national bioethics commissions pledging to investigate. Why not?

Here is the complete article.

Call for Submissions – The Collective Memory Project: Responses to Eugenics in Alberta

Pasted below is the text from this call for submissions for an art exhibit to be held in Edmonton and to run from late October through November of this year.

Anne Pasek, the principal force behind this initiative, is an intern on the Living Archives project this summer. As part of her internship, and with support from several other interns, she has arranged for the upcoming exhibition.

Please circulate this call for submissions, and be sure to attend the exhibition later this year. Also, note the pre-exhibit workshops being held the last Tuesday of July, August, and September, as you may be interested in attending some or all of these as well.

Call for Submissions
The Collective Memory Project:
Responses to Eugenics in Alberta

Artists and community members are invited to submit artwork to a forthcoming exhibition addressing the legacy and future inheritance of eugenic ideas in Alberta. Exploring forgotten narratives, lost histories, and contemporary anxieties, The Collective Memory Project will investigate and make visible the process through which personhood is unequally distributed in society.

Continue reading

Rebecca Dresser, UW professor and member of the growth attenuation working group, comments on the Maraachli case

Commenting on the Maraachli case where Baby Joseph was moved to U. S. after Canadian court ordered removal of his respirator, Rebecca Dresser, a professor of law and medical ethics at Washington University in St. Louis, said in the article below that U.S. courts generally side with families in such cases that want to continue treatment for loved ones even in seemingly hopeless medical cases, that similar end-of-life cases will likely become more common, “Because of the growing concerns about costs, we’re going to see more of this.”

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/954061–baby-joseph-moved-to-u-s-after-canadian-court-rules-docs-can-remove-breathing-tube?bn=1

Please note that Dr. Dressor is one of the members of the growth attenuation working group set up by Seattle Children’s and was quoted many times by Christine Ryan Continue reading

Drake on organ harvesting on death row

Great post just up by Stephen Drake from Not Dead Yet on some recent discussions of the idea of introducing policies that promote the harvesting of organs from death row inmates.  It begins:

Wesley Smith has two related pieces on an op-ed by a death row prisoner that was published in the NY Times on March 6th.  Christian Longo, who admits to being guilty of killing his wife and three children, wrote to the newspaper to promote voluntary organ donation by death row prisoners.

In Wesley’s first blog post on this, which I’ll be quoting later on, he blasts the concept – a sentiment I wholeheartedly share.  In the second post, he describes the unmentioned history that the NY Times has with Longo and discredited former reporter Michael Finkel.

While I was surprised at this particular promoter of this proposal getting published in the NY Times, it really wasn’t that surprising to see the idea of death row prisoners as an untapped source of organ donors being pushed in their pages.

This issue resurfaces from time to time, usually around media coverage of a specific death row inmate making the request – wanting to donate organs after his or her death or a kidney while alive.

But right now we might be seeing a deliberate push to popularize this idea by at least one player with both money and media savvy.  See, I’ve been meaning to write something about this topic since last February.  February 14th, to be exact.

You can read the rest of the post, which includes several videos and a discussion of the longer history of this issue, right here or by going to

http://notdeadyetnewscommentary.blogspot.com/2011/03/organ-donation-by-death-row-inmates-get.html.

Life worth giving?

Dominic Wilkinson’s article in AJOB February issue.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21337273

Abstract

When is it permissible to allow a newborn infant to die on the basis of their future quality of life? The prevailing official view is that treatment may be withdrawn only if the burdens in an infant’s future life outweigh the benefits. In this paper I outline and defend an alternative view. On the Threshold View, treatment may be withdrawn from infants if their future well-being is below a threshold that is close to, but above the zero-point of well-being. I present four arguments in favor of the Threshold View, and identify and respond to several counterarguments. I conclude that it is justifiable in some circumstances for parents and doctors to decide to allow an infant to die even though the infant’s life would be worth living. The Threshold View provides a justification for treatment decisions that is more consistent, more robust, and potentially more practical than the standard view.

 

Wilkinson coauthored the following papers with Julian Savulescu. Continue reading

Health Ethics Seminar and Health Ethics Week Event

JOHN DOSSETOR HEALTH ETHICS CENTRE
HEALTH ETHICS SEMINAR AND HEALTH ETHICS WEEK EVENT
Advances in Genetic Testing: Professional and Consumer Perspectives
Dick Sobsey, EdD Professor Emeritus, John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre
& Faculty of Education
Monday, 7 March 2011 12:00—12:45pm Room 1J2.47 Walter MacKenzie Health Sciences Centre
University of Alberta

Continue reading

Seattle Children’s bioethics conference will discuss prioritizing care to children “based on social, physical or mental status”

The Seattle Children’s Hospital will hold the seventh annual pediatric bioethics conference in July. This year’s theme is “Who’s Responsible for the Children? Exploring the Boundaries of Clinical Ethics and Public Policy.” On the conference page of the hospital web site, they lay out some of the issues that will be discussed. One of them goes, “Should care to children be prioritized based on social, physical or mental health status?” and there are some examples of children such as:

Children who have expensive technology-intensive care needs, such as ventilators, dialysis or transplants?

Children with intellectual disabilities who require special resources, yet will remain dependant on society?

Children who have mental healthcare needs?

American Society for Bioethics and Humanities: Call for Proposals

American Society for Bioethics and Humanities
Call for Proposals
ASBH 13th Annual Meeting
October 13-16, 2011
Minneapolis, MN
The American Society for Bioethics and Humanities‘ 13th Annual Meeting is scheduled for
October 13-16, 2011, in Minneapolis, MN at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis. Sleeping rooms at
the Hyatt can be secured at the ASBH group rate of $199 beginning in August. Reservations will
be taken on a first-come, first-served basis.

Continue reading

Pediatric Best Interests: absolute or prima facie?

Physicians’ medical decision-making is to be guided by patient best interests. It is the
foundational principle grounding the trust that is explicit within the fiduciary nature of the
physician/patient relationship. Best interests is meant to be viewed through the patient’s eyes,
and is guided by the experience and knowledge of the attending physician. At the beginning
of life, however, this becomes a problematic concept to practically apply. Continue reading

Huntington Society of Canada Conference 2010

I know this is a bit short notice, but the Huntington’s Society of Canada is hosting their annual conference in Edmonton. Starting today (Thursday) at 7:30 pm at the Sutton Place Hotel, the conference will attempt to highlight both the current research around Huntington disease and the lived experience of those with Huntington. Continue reading

Health Ethics Seminar on November 19, 2010

For your information.


Ethical Challenges at the Beginning of Life: 3 Recent Cases Involving Newborns with Serious Genetic Disorders

Anna C. Zadunayski, LLB
Clinical Ethicist
Alberta Children’s Hospital
Alberta Health Services
Calgary & South Zone
Friday, 19 November 2010 12:00—12:45pm
Room 2-07 Heritage Medical Research Centre
Available via Telehealth by contacting 780-492-6676 or dossetor.centre@ualberta.ca or your local provider at least 2 business days prior to the event
For more information, please call 780-492-6676 or visit
www.ualberta.ca/BIOETHICS/
Abstract follows

‘Newgenics’ still rampant in Alberta, conference told

Front page, Edmonton Journal, by Andrea Sands:

 

‘Newgenics’ still rampant in Alberta, conference told.

Health Ethics Seminar: Howard Nye on Psychological Continuity and Neonatal Medicine

The following seminar announcement may be of interest to many What Sorts readers.  You can find the abstract for the presentation below.

JOHN DOSSETOR HEALTH ETHICS CENTRE

HEALTH ETHICS SEMINAR

The Bearing of Psychological Continuity on Fetal and Neonatal Medicine

Presented by

Howard Nye, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy

Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta

Friday, 24 September 2010

12:00-12:45pm

Room 2-07 Heritage Medical Research Centre

(link to map:

http://www.campusmap.ualberta.ca/index.cfm?campus=1&sector=5&feature=66)

EVERYONE WELCOME!

For more information please e-mail: dossetor.centre@ualberta.ca

Abstract

Continue reading

Woman with Male Chromosomes

Katie Baratz thought she was a typical teenage girl. Katie was born with XY chromosomes a condition called androgen insensitivity syndrome, or AIS.  This intersex condition is one of many that pushes the boundaries of “normal” sex categories.

In 1990, AIS was still called “testicular feminization,” a name I hate. It makes me sound like a failed man, not a woman at all. The belief since the 1950s was that if a woman knew she had this, she’d go crazy or become a lesbian. The doctor told my stunned parents that I could grow up normally, even adopt, but I shouldn’t know I had XY chromosomes or testes. My parents decided to tell me gradually.

Continue reading