Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (2006, May, Stanford Law School)

Stanford Law School Ron Bailey, Reason Magazine

Designer babies PGD Sex selection

Consent of unborn concern -    but nobody has consent over birth

‘much against my will’

ME: Is action done against those who cannot exercise will, an affront to it.

X-men enhanced vs naturals

People oft say what will happen to equality -    Bill McKibben: declaration of independence cant withstand equality -    Fukuyama:

Are people equal? -    nothing self-evident about this.

Political equality idea arise from enlightenment that nobody has truth

Political equality has never rested on playing to human biology

George Annas: ‘the new species or Posthuman will likely view the…. As …. The normals on the other hand may view the posthumans as….potential for genocide….makes weapons of mass desutrction’

Remind Annas that enlightenment people of tolerance.

Political liberalism is already answer

David DeGrazia -    are any X inviolable

no reason

expanding healthy human life spans

Erik Davis Author of ‘Techgnosis’

Not going to talk about normative concerns. Not interested in debate about enhancement

Interested to draw a space where all will be engaged in a way that is difficult, confusing, enlightening, etc.

‘the Posthuman condition’

attempt to explain an existential view of human acxtion, etc.

‘being unto death’ Heidegger. -    maybe we can change this now

whether or not I accept Ron’s arguments, I have to live in possibility that death as I imagine it is not going to work out that way

another aspect of human condition that doesn’t change: choice -    will still be faced with decisions

transhuman or poshuman?

I use post to invoke postmodern

One element of postmodern that has resonance: loss of grand narratives

Posthuman condition

The Matrix ‘red’ or ‘blue’ pill - choices

Why does morpheus offer a ‘pill’

Pharmacology offers way of grappling with Posthuman condition

Funl mistake that proenhanement make sometimes – confusing ends and means -    richness of means -    ie. End is more happiness, learn to live with my anxiety. I can take a pill or try something more tedius, like yoga, etc.

technologies that enhance abiliy to inquiry about Posthuman.

Hope we never lose process of inquiry when pursue more psychology good

Disenchantment of self and reimagining it

William Hurlbut New paradigm in medicine Gaylin: physician as nature’s assistant – old  paradigm Now freedom from natural life processes

If enhancement an increase then need guidance

Within frame of natural limitations, desire serve as purposeful passions

Gordon Lightfoot: think its  sin when I think I’m winning when I’m losing again.

Without considerable caution, might think we’re winning when we’re losing.

Conclusion: all enhancement might more rightly be recognised as diminishments. Might not mean that not useful

Need some sense of relationship between biotech and natural world – this relates to human good

Need ustdg and wisdom/character

Need to enhance capacity for wisdom and character

ME: my prob is that I don’t like the tone of any of these speakers

‘rising tide of freedom and peril’

need to step back into something rooted more in scientific evidence reflect on where we’ve come from be realistic about scientific meaning and reaslism of what we’re saying doubt much of what’s been referenced already is going to be scientifically feasible

matter, mechanism and meaning

fragile flexibility = life

marvel of life forms – specifically human

balance of body and being

‘embodied intelligent freedom’

reflect on this before seeking posthumans

we might be the ultimate formatio

plato: animals as degraded humans with specific functions

body is not equipment

are there no uses of enhancements? No. surely there are

surgeon using betablocker to steady hand. But you do these with a recognition that a higher good has been served.

Enhancement is a specialisation that XXXX with the world, but occassionalyl undergo alterations

What is a serious purpose?

Not too specific things. Not pleasure. Not competition.

If pleasure, then reduce to free-play – aesthetics of self. Using biologically driven resources to just enjoy. Nothing wrong with that, but deracinated is a great danger. And is trivialising, Nietzsche…

Competitive advantage seeking. Used for selfish ambition. Disrupts our deepest meaning.

We are creatures of the earth

Human word derives from earth

Humility also same root.

Be humble.

Questions and Answers

John Schlender, Arizona State Uni

John: are you asking whether I would give…..

John S: any therepy that can cure age related diseases and extend life span.

John: do I favour radical interventions in human life to increase life span? Very cautious, since level of operation would be disruptive to other purposes of human life. Rennard Hayflick says the reason we age is because we have complex biological systems which ultimately canot repair. Can we make magic bullet interventions. I don’t think so. We already are a specieis with an enhanced life span.rhesus macats already selected for longevity. Not convinced it will be easy. If there is a way consistent with human agency that enhances, then great. Not at cost of other phases of life.

Carl Jacksy, Uni of Washington: funl conservatism that all panels express. ‘adapt to the world’ ‘understanding’. If really about ethics and morality,not posthumanism, but postcapitalism. Never once has discussion fo changing political system. Issue of ludism – social structures need to change. Ultimatel ethical desirada is ecosystem that is 100% symbiotic and 0% parasidic. Marcuse: potential of human race not to dominate nature but transcend struggle for survival. People talk about life extneions as xXX, but majority of species on earth are physically immortal.

Erik: I was not calling for radical political transformation, buit invioking drugs as model, was to raise issue of consumerism, capital, etc. people here have a good sense of how decisions in pharma are driven by capital as well as ethics. But I don’t call for things, nor believe they are around the corner. But invoke impossibility of escaping these questions.

Ron: put in a good word for capitalism. Only social system that allows people to get above natural tate of poverty.

Jean Pierre de XX, Paris and Stanford Uni: respond to Erik Davis – vantage point of history of philosophy. If I heard correct, human condition defined by limitations of human possibilities. I think exactly contrary. Human condition when limits of human life strated to be seen not as lack, but as source of meaning. Kant. Heideggerian notion of being unto death. Recall Satre rejoinder to Heidegger: even if became immoral would remain finite, since condemned to be XXXX, to be free is to choose. The more open possibilities, the more finite – chnoice implies renouncing openness. Equation between choice and possiblitiy to overcome finiteness is dubious. If following satre, of course.

ME: if I’m hnst, I should even be speaking

Nick Bostrom: what are the costs of the surgeon using beta blockers.

Bill: when using a drug, effecting range of responses in body. either body accommodate, or provoke imbalance. Foundation of experience – don’t do interventions unless you need to do them. Not convinced that enhancements will effect desired ends or even reasonably feasible. What is evidence that Posthuman are better? There are obviously conditions that need counterbalancing, but what is the goal?

Ron: who is the we? Societal ‘we’ is very totalitarian. You doubt feasibility, so let us try. Don’t stop now. Humanity is terrible at foresight. Never been good at it.\

Wyre Sententia: choice and freedom. I know ron holds to idea of political liberalism. Potential of Erik’s discussion of grand and small narratives. Who will constrain? For what purpose? Douglas Ruskkoff, echoing Satre: defined more by technologies we choose not to use, rather than those that we do.

Erik: I know an electronic musician. I play acoustic guitar and is quite limited machine in formal characteristics. But if electronic musician today can spend limited mony and have range of capacities.

Bill: I do think there are some things we should tell our citizens that there are some things they can’t do. Germ-line intevention is a very bad idea.

Ron: but probably not in 50 years? Eugenics whether allow or restrict. Enhanced lives are not goalless. Eduardo Kac from Brasil, biotech artist – art gene put into e coli, then art gene in a dish and people could.

Claude XXX, Palo Alto: are you somewhat concerned that all these new powers could lead to a nightmare scenario, dictatorship wher government make decisions for people.

Ron: It has to be a concern. Surveillance technologies.

Erik: proximity to catastrophe is relevant. So many nightmare scenarios though.

XXX: what benefits would acrrue form enhancements. Previously, I evaluated ed programmes for disadvantaged. Yet after spending millions, effects not good. If I were parent of a kid, seems sad to me that many kids that have 2 strikes against them because they’ve lost in genetic lottery. How wonderful if could afford choice to do something about that. This is a good application of microeugenic choice.

Bill: what did you have in mind? Predesigning child to be smarter?

XXX: parent in annual wellness exam, might mention will have a child, and physician says we can evaluate eggs to see if there are eggs or sperm that are normal with regard to intelligence and we can allow you to select.

Bill: so, PGD

XXX: yes, but not just morphological, but actually inspection of genome.

Bill: what about improving genome in progress?

XXX: not sure.

Bill: so, selecting, rather than enhancing?

XXX: yes, first, not sure second.

Bill: so what is intelligence? We have standardised talent recognition. Many people who cant read well are more likely to be in jail than others. People on death row, many are dyslexics. So select out dyslexia? Well maybe, but maybe physiological – tendency to ear ache in early life. Trouble with this is that even if goal acceptable, what goes into intelligence is complex. Hundreds of gene. Multitrait loci. No one gene has 1-2% contribution of a given trait like intelligence. To improve must select complex number to select – eg 1,200 embryos. What’s the goal? So they can all go to Stanford!?

Ron: what you’re hoping for will be achiceved by neuropharmacology before embryo selection. People in memory field .

Bill: would these be drugs they take all the time?

Ron: XXX

Bill ??: how draw line between therapy and enhancement. Stronger immune systems. Bill, in your talk you spoke of Lennard Hayflick of ageing as breakdown of repair. How draw line? If you don’t draw the line, are you into enhancement?

Bill: I’m not a bioconservative. I’m from California. But conservation is a good word, when there is something worth conserving. Medicine is conservative. First principle ‘do no harm’. But first principle should be ‘stay away from docctors’, one in 6 is iatrogenic ‘caused by doc’. If non-invasive that doesn’t harm, I wouldn’t be against, but sceptical. Immune system is a balance – cant work out how to enhance it. We know of deficiencies. But with regard to gene thing, we should make it clear that genetic germline enhancements- genes are not legos. Every system we care about – beauty, intelligence- complex interactions of genes. If really try to bring about scenario, will need cloned human embryos and alter one at a time. Otherwise, natural selection could not predict. Multi body problem raised to nothing degree. This will all amount to experiments on human beings and don’t think we have entitlement to do that.

Ron: with regard to germline, they wont work now. Bioinformatics might produce enough info to simulate genome, interactions of proteins, etc.

Bill: let me correct that. Concordance of identical twins only 18% higher than fraternal. Misimpression that genes are determinate. The bioinformatics prob is so complex that cant do without known genome – so need cloned humans.we have false impressions about how genes work based on genetic diseae. But these are usually missing links in chain, but not just one trait, we just don’t analyse it that way in popular level. Polygenic inheritance means one gene affects many traits. I doubt bioinformatics will solve.

James, Sanfransciso: gentlemen from Washintgon answer question about where this is going – symbiotic rather than parasitic. Ref back to Matrix, agent compared human beings to a virus, uising up resources. Best estimates that lifeblood of oil runs out in a couple of decades. So, question: since 40years since outlaw of psychedelics, so what hindsight of that decision.

Ron: affront of human freedom. Stop drug war and help people who go too far.

YXXXX, Stanford student: ‘we humans might be highest form of physical form’. Something Nick Bostrom wrote on ‘reversal test’. Unlikelt in grand scheme that we are at a local optimum in this point in history. How respond to reversal test.

Bill: human beings are a marvel of balanced capacities. Hands as tool of tools. We could do better. Owls see better at night. But enhancing one thing upsets balance. I think about danger of being torn between arrogance and anxious striving. When ask what really makes people better? My thoughts aren’t something technological. But who is happiest? St Francis: recognised of natural value. Became weak to become strong. French theologian: man can recover true life…certain voluntary poverty is the condition for possessing the world in a way that will not reduce it to ashes.

Erik: I’m a melancholic Posthuman. I recog validity of human ways. Media.

ME: the charge of responsibility and its bearing on enhancement decisions.

Ron: we do have grand narratives: ending of poverty, suffering, etc.


Enhancement and Human Rights Session

Why Human Rights are a problem for enhancement Patrick Hopkins

Right almost gives no carte blanche to harm others. Not absolute Alleged right to enhancement in appeal to autonomy no greater appeal than appeal to damgage oneself.

Extreme specificity of contemporary autonomy claims weaken it. Previously, autonomy meant something broader. In deontology, rights recognised some moral laws Autonomy in consequentialist meant that when authorities decided for us, they often got it wrong In none of these views was autonomy content free Autonomy required rationality. So, irrational choices had no validity. Autonomy = self lawed, not no lawed

How is enhancement reasonably way of pursuing interests.

Pro-enhancement crowd must ask what they want from enhancement. If power, gratification, etc, then less than human, not more.

To defend as a right, must be worthwhile, dignified and noble.

Chris Gray Cyborg technology had horrible possibility of taking what rights we have. Must make sure we don’t lose rights we currently enjoy. V good to have a philosophical understanding – or epistemological – but what’s really imp is how you have power in the world. Fact that we have rights now is that many people struggled for them.

Political systems are systems of discourse. Discourse of rights is a metarule Imp we mobiles this to keep freedom

Steve Mann –‘Digital Futures..’

Kevin Warwick says he’s a cyborg, but he isn’t.

Before right to enhance, right as normal citizen.

Epistemological – any imp question need this – how do you know what you know?

In this case, assumes what you need

Manfred Clynes

Goedl – showed mathematics was incomplete and/or imperfect

Church-turing thesis - incompetent

Understand human culture as a discourse. -    change discourse

smartest thing in the world is a community, much smarter than any individual

dialetic – thesis, antithesis, new synthesis

Nigel Cameron Associate Dean, Chicago College of Law

Author of ‘The NewMedicine’ And ‘Human Dignity in the Biotech Century’

(From Edinburgh in Scotland)

caveats of answers

identity complex questions

putative enhancement: proportionality enhancement

recog prob of drawing lines –eg between therapy and enhancement

nobody claims it is easy to draw such lines

role of policy inthis debate is complex naïve freedom of science argument

IRBs make life difficilt

Science constrained by social norms

A defining discussion about human future not easy to resolve.

Enhancement debates are surrogate to discussions about value of human – what is the good life?

This will be the dominating theme of the 21st century.

Questions and Answers

Positive and negative right distinc? David Calvery, Arizona State:

Wesley Smith, Weekly Standard: for Dr Gray:

GraY: proliferation of transhumans. May have its own problems.

Question: are human limits a threshold or a fn of technology and culture?

Gray: universal machine faces same problem. Infiinitte computer cannot understand world.

Carl chansky: human race has been involved in enhancement since time immemorial. Two phases: enhancement of muscular abilities. Now this is closed. We have infinitised our musculature.

Nigel: Much less concerned about steroids

Kirsten Rabe Smolensky

Assume intervention before birth Assume 2: germline not somatic Assume3: safe enough Assume4: intervention before born, resulting in outcome that they dislike and want to sue parents.

Eg. Superior athletic ability given and wanted superior musical ability.

Current state of tort law makes v unlikely that child could bring such a case

Tort Wrongful birth/death

Two potential claims

Wrongful life/birth: Least likely, but worth mention Current law:

Claim: you didn’t screen me when in womb and I have this condition because of that.

Generally not recognised in court, since would require court to accept better off dead than with condition.

Court disagrees.

Alternative: negligence claim.

Ot bring: Need duty of care. Breach of duty Breach must be proximate cause

Question of whether we owe foetus duty of care?

If someone hits pregnant woman and injures child, then potential negligence.

if pregnant woman in car and both damage, also independently liable to foetus

in some jursifactions parent can claim child cant sue.

Hewitt vs Jordan 1981, Mississippi – committed child. When got out sued parent. Disupts family harmony

ME: what is length of term a child would have to make such a claim? In uk, it’s 3 years after realisation or after 18.

Alternative: Negligence Claim

Is duty owed to foetus?

About 6 cases o prenatal harm -    where held: Groto v Grotom 1980, mother tetracycl…, discoloured teeth. -    In Michigan, willallow prenatal harm claims -    Bonti vs Bonti, 1992, New Hampshire: woman cross streetnegligently, hit by vehicle, foetus born, brought suit against mother. Court said mother was negligent. -    Vs. Norton trust bank, 2002, court of appeals, automobile, mother negligent driver, brorn, sued, only upto limits of mothers insurnance – suggests ok if someone else paying, but if from parents’ pocket, then no. -    In all cases, 3rd party tort. If allow 3rd party to be liable, then parents also. -    Also in places where parental tort almost abolished.

If genetically enhance child inappropriately, could be similarly negigleb as if had harmed

3 other cases

car accident case, cocaine using mother and car accident -    when courts focus on duty, say mother doesn’t have duty. If we control mother, then limiting her autonomy -    if recog duty to foetus, then limiting her capacities

genetic enhancement a  little dim -    at preimplantation stage, not changes by parent altering lifestyle. But actually choices of child before hand, which don’t necessarily affect mothers determiniation -    thus, potential court liability more likely

ME: in the case where an award was made, what was it for ‘diminished life’, harm?

ME: defensive medicine a consequence of this prospect? Ie. Genetic counsellor advising about risk. Is counsellor liable? Not so much parent’s being sued, but subsequently – they will act under the advice of health care professionals. Can the child sue the genetic engineer for ineffectiveness. Ie. I was supposed to get 2m legs, and they’re only 30cm, or something.

Defensive medicine concen – spinabifida, alters advice if prospect of being sued.

ME: eg of child who’s born with athletic genes but wants musical genes. Isn’t this too specific an articulation. Ie. No right to all enhancements. A better example might be muscle fibre type selection. Selecting a child with greater fasttwitch fibre types and they want to be a marathon runner, because this an ‘either/or’ decision. My having of fast limits my slow.

Genetic Engineering and the Consent of future generations Martin Gunderson

sceptical of deontological conservatism and consequential utopianism

doctrine of informed consent – not subhect to experiment/treatment without informed consent

Kantian notion of autonomy

Consent can change normative relations

Questions and Answers

Anita: consent issue. Issue is permitting parents to choose for their children. What are standards for surrogate consent.

James: concept of substituted judgmeent is time constraint and cultural constraint of knowl: standard of care.does concept of substituted judgement…at the time what parents were allowed to do.


George: parent consent illusion. Gattaca, selecting genes. Over interiew, doctor is guiding them. Is this medical liability?

Kirsten: if child bring suit, probably also malpractice suit from parents on informed issue. Another issue is diff notions of informed consent.

ME: you mentioned tht child sues parent and gets money from insurance company. Is this a way of gaining additional support for people with disabilities? Ie. Is there an incentive for parent to take out insurance that would allow them to claim…

James: cant have consent without knowledge of informed consent.

Anders: difference between treatments outside … blur of zone.

Everybody is already different.

Standard body not only non-existent, but also atemporal.

The Right Not to be Normal as the Essence of Freedom Anita Silvers

Prosthetic used by cyclist

Whether lack of flesh enhances

Making better athlete

Equality of opp requires participation in social practices

Over last century commitment to equality of opp in USA has embraced diversity.

Some critics worry that enhancing lead to social inequality

Boil gifts.

Advantageous in some contexts, not others.

Don’t make people stronger, otherwise disabled will be even weaker, assumes what constitutes strength and weakness

Natural vs artificial – you cant go that way.

Whether boil differences are unfair

Assumption that we are naturally competitive.

Mistaken to assume this.

A lot of evolutionary biology that suggest this to be false

Just as likely to be naturally cooperative

So, if working in a group, don’t you want your colleagues to have strengths that you might not have?

Transhumanist continue to buy in to competitive theory

Enhance our ability to cooperate

Transhumanism and the O(/o)Ther Shannon Ramdin

Politics of technological empowerment

Are transhumanists colonial subject or object?

Haraway’s manifesto

James Hughes – WTA alls under liberal democratic transhumanism. Doesn’t mean not affiliated with radical.

Cyborgs and cytberspace connection.

Web not a new world, but reflection of non-virtual world.

Ever widening digtal divide.

Identity not invisible.

Transhuman technologies -    genome

inequalities exist in society

even when technology starts off

ME: why should we expect the Internet to be equally available?

Suffering bodily tolerances and enhancement discourse Jessica Cadwalladar Doctoral candidate critical cultural studies

suffering more than bodily pain

cast as most unquestionable, most natural

poststructuralist claim … to be natural has a number of effects -    places thing outside culture -    Haraway’s Primate Visions – natural as human and thus cultural description -    Patriarchy as natural state of being fed into studies of gorillas

Suffering is a politicised cultural space

Carl Elliott, Better than well Human growth hormone, used to treat shortness almost exclusively in boys Early years, debates about how to use. Some suggested that any boy in shortest 1% should be treated. Short men were observed to suffer following disadvantages – less good jobs, less long term relationships. But parents of boys who grow up to be short men didn’t care about reason, just wanted child not to suffer.

Suffering as trump card.

Yet, suffering not neutral either.

Occurs in relation to deviation from cultural norm.

Those who suffer because of a range of things, don’t suffer because it is natural for them to do so, but because cant fully achieve cultural norms

Taken on by subject.

Merleu ponty

Normal not natural, but conceptions

Pathological deviation from natural functioning

Deviance when not adhering to Norm Fost

Disability already marked as pathological, even in absence of disease.

Any kind fo corporeal difference is taken as diseae

Questions and Answers

ME: competitive with a small c and big C. is competitiveness necessarily a lack of care for one’s competitiveness. One can be competitive without having competitive anxiety.

Anita: what would it mean to engage the public?

Question: you all mentoned respecting difference. What is common ground on which we respect difference?  What is our common humanity?

Jessica: Dewey: there is a human nature, but it is built  by us.

Anita: where does the burden of proof lie? Why on those who accept difference who don’t even notice it. Example of student who probably had asbergers didn’t know this difference. Are we hardwired to attach certain kinds of difference? Lone wolves. Blind wolves are often lone wolves, because they attach the pack.

Jessica: I have major questions about individual liberty. I have a more inter-subjective view on how subjects come to be. People want to conform.

Of genes, bemes and conscious things: from transhuman enhancements to transbeman rights Martine Rothblartt


Bemes, like memes but cultural.

Beme mightier than gene

How do DNA and BNA matter? -    dna genes -    bna translated via neurochemistry or software

Our Right to Life: Life extension, human rights, and the rational refiniement of repugnance Aubrey de Grey

Structure of talk

Leon kass – credit where due

My flavour of non-cognitivism

Evidence from past precedent

Relevance to the (un)desirability of aging

Non-cog – no one true morality

Will aging become repugnant?

ME: it is already isn’t t?