The 1997 film Gattaca, written and directed by Andrew Niccol, portrays a futuristic society where babies are genetically engineered according to parental references. The film features a society that consists almost exclusively of such artificially built individuals, with those who are born in the archaic, natural manner occupying the fringes of this society. In order to protect the rights of what are referred to as the “valids” and thereby keep out the inferior “invalids,” each individual’s genetic material is constantly sampled and monitored. Every person’s DNA is stored in a database, making multiple scans and random genetic sweeps in the workplace very efficient. The story follows an “invalid” who has a dream of becoming an astronaut, a job open only to the genetically enhanced elite.
But my intention here is not to provide a synopsis of the film, which is very good and is certainly well worth the time it takes to watch. Rather, I wanted to Continue reading →
Gregor Wolbring in full swing on ableism and its relationship to sexism, racism, caste bias, anti-environmentalism, consumerism. It all goes by very fast, so be prepared! Part 3 will have some panel interchange on this.
Here Gregor argues that ableism lies at the root of these other “isms”, and so is in that sense the most fundamental form of discrimination. In the audience discussion following the talk–which, unfortunately, we did not have permission to film–there was quite a bit of discussion of, and resistance to, this idea. Gregor also writes a regular column, The Choice is Yours, and you can find more information about him there. On this issue, as Gregor says about most things, the choice is yours. Is ableism the most fundamental form of discrimination out there?
The final part of Natasha Vita-More’s talk, together with an audible but hard-to-hear exchange with Nick Agar at the end. Nick is asking about the prototype that Natasha designed 10 years ago, Primo Posthuman. You can get more on Primo, and on Natasha’s work more generally, from her website.
The examples that Natasha provides are provocative, and in the exchange with Nick we’re reminded of the difference between “prototype design” and “industrial design”–design at the planning (detailed as that may be) level, and design at the level of implementation. But even once implemented in some form, there’s the further question of what we might call full-blown implementation, truly industrial design, where we scale up from some kind of implementation to implement the device to realize its full promise.
Example: consider artificial intelligence vs artificial retinae (and related visual prosthetics) or cochlear implants. Continue reading →
Here is an older, short talk by Greg Stock, from 2003–How Biotech Will Drive Our Evolution–on uses of present and future biotechnologies for human betterment that has recently been posted on TED Talks.
One of the interesting things is that while Stock presents a dismissive view of past hype about future technologies–e.g., the Human Genome Project and curing all ailments–there is also much more uplifting and positive talk about the uses of technology in medicine in 5-10 years, i.e., about the period that we’re almost in the middle of now. It’s nice to have predictions whose test conditions are now in place so we can, well, see how they have fared. I guess you can decide how much difference there is between the past and the present.
An IJDCR Special Issue on Nanotechnology, Disability, Community and Rehabilitation edited by Gregor Wolbring, Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies Program, Dept of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Canada
Editor’s Introduction to the Special Issue, by Gregor Wolbring
If Nanotechnology Were a Magic Wand What Obligations Would it Bring? Or: The Right to Enhance Versus the Right to Morphological Freedom, by Heather Bradshaw
Optimization of Human Capacities and the Representation of the Nanoscale Body, by Michele Robitaille
Nanotechnology: Changing the Disability Paradigm, by Laura Cabrera
The journal welcomes submissions on a continuous basis that focus on nanoscale and nanoscale-enabled science and technology as it impacts on disabled people and the broader community and the role of rehabilitation professionals, family members and others.
ONCE International Research and Development Award in New Technologies for the Blind and Visually Impaired
The aim of the International R&D Award in New Technologies for the Blind and Visually Impaired, held bi-annually by the ONCE (Spanish National Organisation for the Blind), is to distinguish and recompense those researches whose development, use or application represent a clear improvement in the quality of life, equality of opportunities or the process of social and working integration of the blind and visually impaired.
Through this Award, ONCE seeks to stimulate the promotion of scientific technical research aimed at technological developments and innovations in the field of engineering, artificial intelligence, computing, telecommunications, microtechnology and nanoelectronics, with the ultimate purpose of correcting or overcoming the limitations suffered by the blind or the visually impaired on account of their disability.
Guest Editor: Gregor Wolbring, Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies Program, Dept of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary.
Nanoscale science and technology, while still in its infancy, describes a rapidly growing sphere of enquiry, with many and varied implications for the disability field. To establish a ‘benchmark’ of the current state of knowledge and conceptual understanding, the Editors of IJDCR decided a special issue should be devoted to the topic. Background information and potential topics are presented below. Continue reading →
Educating the public about nanotechnology and other complex but emerging technologies causes people to become more “worried and cautious” about the new technologies’ prospective benefits, according to a recent study by researchers at North Carolina State University.
of interest to us
4.1.16 N&N research organisations should not undertake research aiming for non-therapeutic enhancement of human beings leading to addiction or solely for the illicit enhancement of the performance of the human body.
THis suggests that every other enhancement research is allowed like ‘therapeutic’ (who decides what is therapeutic), and non therapeutic work that is not used for doping purposes or leads to addictions.. Additions are mostly drug related at first glance but may be one say that one can become addicted to ones enhancements like emotionally addicted.
In general the section seem to give the go ahead to most enhancement work
Some of the other wordings of the code might be usable for us but will see.Technorati Tags: Code, Nano, Enhancement, Europe
I should say that I am part of the Converging technology meeting in Sept as a faculty
The European Commission currently tries to stimulate responsible development of nanotechnology by recommending a Code of Conduct to EU member states. This Code is actually a form of “soft law”, governing nanotechnology research. Evaluators of EU project proposals are asked to use this code in their selection process. Ambitious and prudent researchers in natural as well as social sciences may want to learn more about nanoethics in general and this code in particular, and discuss the practical consequences.
The EthicSchool on Ethics of Nanotechnology offers a good opportunity for this. It is held 24-29 August 2008 at the University of Twente. Prof. Dr Arie Rip of the University of Twente and Prof. Dr. Jean-Pierre Wils of Radboud University in Nijmegen are co-presidents of the EthicSchool.
The EthicSchool on Ethics of Converging Technologies is held 21-26 September 2008 at the Dormotel Vogelsberg in Alsfeld /Omrod in Germany. Prof. Dr. Alfred Nordmann of the TU Darmstadt and an international group of renowned scholars will lead discussions at the forefront of the scientific debate on current trends in the converging sciences and technologies (nano, bio, info, cogno) and the philosophical, societal and policy implications.
PhD students, postdocs and others with a genuine interest are welcome to join the EU funded EthicSchool Summerschools. There are still a number of places left for both EthicSchools. If you are interested in presenting a paper, the deadline for submitting abstracts has been extended until 1 June 2008. Find out more and register online at http://www.ethicschool.eu
Nanotechnology: Ethics and Society (Perspectives in Nanotechnology) (Paperback)
by Deb Bennett-Woods (Author) description here
I have a little piece in there called “Nanoscale sciences and technology and the framework of Ableism:”
This What sorts question many thought they had figured out is increasingly up for grasp again in all kind of areas. Athletes are one of them. Who is an Olympic athlete? Who is a Paralympic athlete? Who is….? As a contribution to this discourse I wrote the article below. It is an open access journal, so feel free to download the paper and of course any comment are welcome here or to me directly.
in SCRIPT-ed – A Journal of Law, Technology & Society
Oscar Pistorius and the Future Nature of Olympic, Paralympic and Other Sports Gregor Wolbring, pp.139-160
| HTML | DOC | PDF | Oscar Pistorius is a Paralympic bionic leg runner and record holder in the 100, 200, and 400 meters who wants to compete in the Olympics. This paper provides an analysis of a) his case; b) the impact of his case on the Olympics, the Paralympics and other –lympics and the relationships between the –lympics; c) the impact on other international and national sports; d) the applicability of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. It situates the evaluation of the Pistorius case within the broader doping discourse and the reality that new and emerging science and technology products increasingly generate internal and external human bodily enhancements that go beyond the species-typical, enabling more and more a culture of increasing demand for, and acceptance of modifications of the human body (structure, function, abilities) beyond its species-typical boundaries and the emergence of new social concepts such as transhumanism and the transhumanisation of ableism.