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The Journal of Future Robot Life

The Journal of Future Robot Life

I am very pleased to share my involvement with this new journal, for which I will join its inaugural Editorial Board. Here’s an overview of what it will cover

What will robots be like ten, twenty and more years from now? What will they be able to accomplish? How will human–robot relationships have advanced? What place in society will be occupied by robots? These are just some of the questions which will be debated in the pages of this new publication – the Journal of Future Robot Life.

Computer science and artificial intelligence (AI) have had a huge impact on society, an impact that will only increase with further advances in hardware and software technologies. Robots are the most remarkable product of these developments in computing and AI, many of them being designed in a humanlike form and endowed with humanlike capabilities: talking, hearing, seeing, moving and performing complex tasks such as dancing, conducting an orchestra, rescuing victims at disaster sites, playing musical instruments, and beating a world champion at chess.

As robots become more humanlike in their appearance and their capabilities, and as they come to be regarded more and more as our companions and assistants in all aspects of daily life, different questions beg to be answered. We need to contemplate what life will be like when robots can imitate human behavior sufficiently to be regarded, in some sense, as our equals. And when we humans have adapted our ways of life in order to interact fully with robots as alternative people, and to benefit fully from our relationships with them, such questions on the future of human–robot interactions and human–robot relationships are the raison d’etre of this journal. What civil rights and legal rights should robots be granted? What are the ethics of humankind’s interactions with robots? Will robots have empathy? Will their personalities and emotions mimic our own? Will robots be programmed with social intelligence, or can they acquire it through a learning process? Will robots be alive in any humanlike sense, and if so, how?

The Journal of Future Robot Life will attempt to answer these questions and many more. The topics which we group under the umbrella phrase “future robot life” are many and varied, and the list will doubtless expand with time. We shall start with the following:

Animal–robot interfaces
Are robots alive?
Biological behaviors
Companion robots
Evolutionary robots
Human–robot reproduction
Human–robot interfaces
Implanted cyborg technologies
Laws relating to robots
Nanorobots in medicine
Plant–robot interfaces
Robot emotions
Robot ethics
Robot personalities
Robot reproduction
Robot rights
Robot–human parents
Robots as doctors
Robots as economists
Robots as lovers
Robots as politicians
Robots as psychiatrists/therapists
Robots as spouses
Robots as teachers
Robots in Entertainment
Robots in government
Robots on the battlefield
Social intelligence in robots
Swarm robot behavior.

Once of the nicest discussions about robots I’ve been involved with was a Tomorrow’s Live World event, which took place within the Manchester Science Festival programme of 2018. Here’s what that was like.

One of the nicest science communication events I’ve ever produced focused on inter-generational conversations about the future of robotics, which featured as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science. Here’s a glimpse into what we did.

Sport 2.0 published in Japanese

Sport 2.0 published in Japanese

Amazing to see the publication of Sport 2.0 in Japanese this month, especially since the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are just around the corner. It has been a while since I’ve been to Japan and I can’t wait until the next visit.

Putting the NHS in Fortnite

Putting the NHS in Fortnite

Just before Christmas, I published an article which I have been developing for around 6 months. It is a first step in articulating a structure through which healthcare can be provided within digital environments, without having to require patients to relocate themselves into other spaces. I’m really excited about fleshing this out further and would welcome feedback. For me, it’s a crucial issue and makes a lot of sense given the habitualisation that goes into people’s use of digital worlds. There is still a lot to figure out, like what kind of relationship should exist between digital developers and healthcare service professionals, or what should be the format of intervening within such spaces, but here’s a starting point.

A fresh look at anti-doping

A fresh look at anti-doping

Last November, I was asked to give a talk for a legal summit examining the doping dilemma in sport. It was a chance to reflect on 15 years of immersing myself in this complex subject. You can download the entire book publication from this event here but here's my manuscript pasted below for ease. 


I.    Overview of a Current Ethical Challenge in Anti-Doping, by Professor Andy Miah
Thank you to the WADA commentary team for inviting me here to give a talk. It has been a long journey for me in anti-doping and, to some extent, I want to take you through that 15 years or so within which I have often found myself on, for many people, the wrong side of the argument, for want of a better phrase. I was asked to talk about a current ethical issue around anti-doping. I think there are many, but I want to give you a glimpse of one particular topic through that journey that I have had in this world and outside of it. I began in this field from a sports science background. My PhD was in bioethics and sport, where I looked at genetics in particular, and my work expanded into bioethics more broadly. It is that interface between sport’s use of performance enhancement and the wider societal  uses of technology that I want to address. 
Forgive me reading a bit of the manuscript. Often I give talks just by talking, but I sometimes also write a manuscript that I develop through the talk. With this one I'm going to read a bit and hopefully give you an insight into the challenge, I think, with identifying what constitutes a current issue  around ethical concerns in anti-doping.

Around 20 years ago I gave a talk at the first International Conference on Human Rights and Sport which took place in Sydney. I don't know if there was a second International Conference on Human Rights and Sport, but the issues were quite significant. My talk was titled, quite simply, “The Human Rights of the Genetically Modified  Athlete”. Most people, as you can imagine thought: “What the hell is that about?” Especially people in sport thought this must be something like doping  but just on a genetic level; that's how we should regard it and how we should think about the ethical issues around this topic. For most people in that world, this was simply another case of “bad hombres” using things they shouldn't be to compete  in sport. But it was much deeper for me than just that. I was interested in thinking about a world in which there were genetically modified people whose enhancements were decided for them by the genetic selection or enhancement decisions of their parents or ancestors and how the world of sport might deal with that kind of person.

I wanted to imagine athletes who had not, themselves, done anything to achieve their genetic advantage but whose parents, who had sought to optimise their child’s chances through genetic selection  or genetic enhancement, would have an impact on  their lives. Their existence would not violate any rule within anti-doping, even though their being permitted to take part in elite sport would certainly mean that anyone who was not genetically modified or selected would be less competitive.

This was a time of considerable change in the world more broadly. This talk found itself one year before the completion of the Human Genome Project. I want to take you back to that moment.
The Human Genome Project was nearing completion, and in fact was creating an incredibly challenging set of ethical issues for the world at large. It seemed to me particularly challenging for the world of sport. How will it deal with a world in which this technology was used? But all of a sudden the work of Crick, Watson and Franklin came to life. We found ourselves in the middle of a new era in human evolution. This was what was at stake at the time: this feeling that we are transcending those biological limits and remaking humanity in quite controversial and challenging ways. We hadn't figured out how this would operate. So I wondered how would the world of sport deal with an era where genetic information and even gene transfer found its way into sport.
Looking back, I suppose I also thought that this was a game-changer for the subject and that intrigued me, certainly. Gene doping was going to bring about the collapse of anti-doping, a system which I had studied and found to be left wanting philosophically and practically as a project interested in sustaining a moral framework to sport that I thought was unjustified, undesirable, and ineffective.

Now, some 20 years later, and also 20 years since New Scientist published its first article on performance genes, I'm left wondering: “Is this still a current issue?”

In 2001, in September that year, there was a conference scheduled at Cold Spring Harbor where the World Anti-Doping Agency would talk about gene doping and the prospects. 9/11 happened, that conference was cancelled and  postponed to the following year, but this was the time at which Professor Lee Sweeney began to say  that he was being contacted by athletes and their entourages with a view to them being enrolled into clinical trials using gene therapy. This brought the issue to life for the world. Lee Sweeney saying this made it a live issue, made it a current issue.

Lee's work on IGF-1 in particular revealed a proof of principle in the science and he spoke of an appetite among athletes to enroll within his trials. This was about as current as it got, or so I thought. Also at this time the IOC set up a gene therapy working group and soon after WADA did the same. We've now had a good 15 years of talking about this matter, but what has really changed? Well, we have research like this (indicating video of mouse on treadmill) coming out of Case Western Reserve University, which gives you a sense of how genetic interventions may have an impact on performance.

So over this 15 years or so there have been discoveries, findings, that suggest a proof of principle that could have applications for humans. And since every Olympic Games from Sydney onwards the media has published stories claiming that  gene doping is the next big threat for sports while many other threats have also come and gone. Tthink of THG, the ‘clear’ or designer steroids more generally. And there have been examples of how genetic interventions can dramatically affect performance capacity, at least within animal models.

So it has been current for at least 15 years. Fast forward now to 2016 and we see how this becomes manifest within public discourse.
I was in a meeting with our chief science adviser in the British government this week where we talked about trust and expertise, and I gather it came up a little bit yesterday. But here's how it happens. Scientists were asked about what's going on in the world of science, and they tell them. They are then asked about what's going to come next, and they tell them again.

“We don’t know yet whether this has been done anywhere, but…it will be used sometime”

This is a quote from Carl Johan Sundberg [WADA Gene Doping Panel] from just last year, before the Olympic Games began in Rio,        which tells you how this discourse is propagated within the media, how current issues are formed through the opinions of expertise but, crucially, through the requests of them to make predictions about what's coming next. So it is a discourse that's facilitated by experts. One of the predicaments, I think, of anti-doping not specifically, but it certainly is one that it needs to deal with, is the ethics of communication around emerging technology issues. It is a real challenge.

You can find quotes like these from every single Olympic Games period. Usually about a month before WADA puts out its big statements about the fact that no one is going to get away with it this time, we have some fancy new test that is going to catch everybody, which happened last year with a genetic test for EPO, and you  have these claims about whether in fact gene  doping is here and here to stay.

Personally I experienced this directly. In 2004, I published a book called Genetically Modified Athletes, and just before the Athens Olympic Games, the BBC asked me on to their flagship Newsnight programme to talk about these  implications and we had a good debate about where we were and where it might go. Eight years later, during the London 2012 Games, I had exactly the  same debate on the same television programme about gene doping. It was almost word for word. So there's a real challenge here in terms of how we think about what is current and how we deal with it.

If this is a current issue, what was it 20 years ago when I started writing about the subject, when New Scientist published its first article on the subject? What is the difference between an emerging technology and a current technology when thinking about what we should be doing within our ethical investigations and policy making?

Some of my learning in bioethics were shaped by time at the Hastings Center in New York, where conversations with Dr Thomas Murray, who was involved with WADA at various levels, led me to conclude that sport would not deal with this  matter head on since bioethics, it is often said, must deal only with the present-day reality of scientific possibilities, not what might be here in five or ten years' time. Genetic enhancements weren't possible scientifically, at least we didn't know that they would work and be safe, and so did not deserve our time, even if they were rich philosophical debates. Instead we focused on gene tests and selection, and soon after such tests were becoming available. Here's one screen shot of a genetic test that was made available commercially. You could buy this test over the Internet. It simply takes a mouth swab and gives you some data on whether you are more likely to be a power-based on endurance-based athlete. Every scientist in this field has criticised this test, but the point, I think, from a policy perspective and from an intervention perspective is that it has become a social reality. The test is out there. The language of genetic tests as being determining of capacities or likely life achievements became a reality. So this led WADA to focus on genetic tests, and it published the Stockholm declaration in 2005, based on our talks.

Now I may have an erroneous definition of the word current, but it does matter how we define this term. I consider it essential to the work of ethics that we do mid to long-term speculative work. Space, time, and money is required to undertake such enquiries or else we lose sight of the bigger problems and lose time to determine our resolve. Failing to dialogue with speculative matters also limits the duration of our convictions and undermines our capacity to avoid problems that we may face in the future. In any case it is critical to distinguish between different forms of that word current. And we can have quite simple distinction between what is happening right now, so for example cases that come up in the world of sport or actual gene doping that's taking place that we know about, this is one way of thinking about what's current. But a lot of the conversation around anti-doping  focuses on a second definition which talks about the sorts of things that preoccupy our time - the worries we have about the future. Certainly for nearly 20 years now, gene doping has been a "current" issue in that respect. 

While it makes sense that we focus our efforts on the first of these, focusing on: Well, if it's not here yet, let's focus on the stuff that's here and deal with that. We need to think about the second one to avoid having to deal with the first one. If we don't deal with these longer-term implications, then we have a harder time dealing with the stuff that comes at us at crisis points.

Here's an example of the problem. We are moving into a world where these technologies are talked about not as a means of distorting nature or corrupting some internal essence or jeopardising a moral framework to how we recognise talent or effort in sport, and the like. Rather, it  actually has something much deeper to do with how we are changing as a species and as individuals. This terribly long quote is a good indication of that. 

A quote from Lee Sweeney's work, who I mentioned earlier, who has been working with WADA trying to find ways of detecting gene doping. But he says, and I'll read it out:
1.    “From my own work with the mice, I also know that earlier you intervene, the better off you're going to be when you get old. So once you go down that path, I think it's unethical to withhold from someone something that would actually allow their muscles to be much healthier now and to the future. As long as there's no safety risk, I don't see why athletes should be punished because they're athletes. So I'm on the other side of the fence from Wada on this one, even though we're on the same team right now” 
2.    Lee Sweeney, Jan 2014
At the moment the direction of travel for genetics is that, for it to be an effective public health intervention, we need to intervene before  an athlete even becomes an athlete.
These technologies that, at the moment, are within the WADA Prohibited List and rejected by the sports community generally, are seen as kind of discrete doping problems, but they are part of a wider change in the  circumstances of our biological condition.

A lot has happened over 20 years or so. We have now an article that covers gene doping  within the WADA Code, even if our knowledge of what is taking place is limited. Over the years there have been indications of gene doping at Games but nothing confirmed. We've heard talk about specific genetic products being used at different Games; but, again, it is all very  unclear. My concern is that the present strategy doesn't really address the problem that I wanted to consider back in Sydney in 1999, which was to do with the way in which genetics enters the population in a much deeper sense, perhaps through germ-line transfer of enhancements.

People in the world of sport, when asked this question about that germline modification or these wider questions about society and how it  uses technology will shrug their shoulders and  say, well, what can we do? We have nothing to do as a sporting organisation to address this. We have to see how society changes its values and, if it does, we may respond to it. Others will talk about it as just complete nonsense, that germ-line genetic engineering is just pie in the sky and akin to science fiction, and it is then also quickly dismissed. But then I'm often reminded, and have often been reminded over these years, as to how quickly these things change, how technology is taking us into new realms of capability. And year after year I have seen examples of that.
For example, this is from the TED Conference happening this week in Vancouver.


Sports find themselves at a time of tremendous change in the sorts of things that people want to do with their lives. Numbers around many sports, traditional sports, are diminishing. People are inventing alternative forms of physical practice which have alternative values and relationships to this problem of anti-doping.

One of the big areas that I wasn't going to get into but just to mention it very briefly is the rise of E-sports - competitive computer game playing - which has risen in the last few years significantly. It has so many profound implications for the world of sport. I could give a whole presentation on just that. However, the key thing here is that sport is losing generations to other kinds of activities, where the approach to the questions of doping is very different. So, we need to look at these and understand really what is going on and where it leaves us with regard to the ethical dilemmas that sports face.

In that context, the second the act of this talk is to men tion a few examples. Just to give you a glimpse of some of these challenges that we face

The first one I want to talk about is CRISPR, this technology that will allow a much  more sophisticated approach to gene editing. CRISPR has been discussed at length in the press in the last couple of years, where there is concern that, in factk that era of gene transfer for  potential enhancements that was dismissed 15 years ago as pie in the sky, as not quite here yet, is around the corner. The quotes again from scientists working in this field will say that this is easy to do, it may not be safe, but this is something that is now within our grasp. We also have projects that are changing those capacities we have as people. One of the nicest examples, I think, is North Sense. Here's a quick glimpse of it.

Now, many nonhuman animals have a capacity to know which direction is north, and this project is giving humans this sensorial capacity, which can change the sorts of things we can do in our lives. My proposition to you is that, in fact, this describes the future of sport much more than the older problems of doping that we see played out in the world of sport today. Creating people with different functions, different capacities, will lead to the creation of different kinds of sports and we'll see how this will change that approach that we have to the doping problem.
We also have the rise of ingestible sensors. A patent was awarded for this for the first time a year ago in the US, and we now begin to see this technology being rolled out. Here is, again, a sense of how it works.

This is here now. You can see how athletes might wish to use something like this to fine-tune their doping to avoid detection and so on, but you can also see how, perhaps, it can be used in a much wider sense as well.

The next one is prosthetics. Prosthetics are changing the sense of what biology can do by transforming it into artificial apparatus. We saw this around the London 2012 Games with Oscar  Pistorius, who became the first person to complete in an Olympic Games with a prosthetic device. But it was really only the beginning of this and we see ourselves at the cusp of an era where prosthetic devices on both significant levels like an artificial limb, but also on nanoscale levels, can be transforming that boundary between nature and technology to the point where it makes no sense to think about these as separate things. 

So in different ways, each of these examples, I think is a problem for sport as they are not really covered by the Code not even its catch-all article which indicates the capacity to encompass other forms of enhancements that aren't listed specifically. But the Code fails the concern that medicine is slipping into the realm of enhancement rather than therapy, calling into  question the role of medicine. Many people who work in this field coming from the medical perspective are worried this enhancement era  transforms the act of providing medical care in a way that undermines it and so are pushing back against it. Yet, we exist in a world where we are increasingly comfortable with this slip and where some even argue that we have moved into a post-human era where the conventional assumptions about healthcare are no longer relevant.
I mentioned one example at breakfast this morning where, in the UK the NHS, our National Health Care Service, is beginning to experiment with artificial intelligence as a diagnostic tool  within primary care. So you can see how these technological changes are coming. The dilemma, I think, to go back to the task I was set today, which was to talk about a current dilemma, can be articulated thus. How can anti-doping protect its social mandate, when human enhancement is allowing the general public to      become more capable of performing acts of physical endeavour than the anti-doping compliant athlete?

The point at which the general public is more enhanced than the athlete is the point at which anti-doping becomes a failed project. As you will anticipate, I don't think that anti-doping can succeed, and what we will see steadily is an erosion of public interest in the unenhanced athlete and the expansion of alternative sports that will not operate by the same kinds of rules.
The answer, however, I think is found within the Code, which has a fundamental flaw  within it. The Code is somewhat tautologous; it is a very self-contained set of directives and principles, self-referential in many ways. It asks the signatories to protect doping-free sport because that is the rule. It does not allow the signatories to question the rule. Even more worrisome is that within Article 18 on Education, it does not seek to undertake education in any meaningful sense.
As an educator myself my role is to guide students in the pursuit of certain ideas but to  allow them to arrive at their own conclusions.

Anti-doping prescribes the end point of that    educative route and it is to be in the service of the Code's purpose. In my view that is far from being education.
Thank you very much.

PROFESSOR KAMBER: Thank you, Andy, for your talk. I always enjoy your talks very much. I remember the first talks about gene doping and then we were on the brink, everybody is telling gene doping is around the corner, but I don't think so. But I'm convinced that we have to discuss this technical enhancement, these products helping people. But I think it is not a problem because we already have it in sports. We have all the sports equipment, already you have the bobsleigh, you have the Formula One cars. And so I think this direction is not such a problem. But I guess the discussion about gene doping, changing your genes, is over. I'm not sure it's coming to the sport. Because if you look at medical enhancement, medical improvement, in the last years, it didn't exist. But I agree with you that we have to discuss these enhancements with the technique, with this equipment we have. Maybe we have mixed races, as we have shown. This we have to discuss but no longer gene doping.

PROFESSOR MIAH: Wow, I can't believe you said that, Matthias, really. I'm staggered! I am given, you know that this is something that experts from your position say at every Olympic Games: This is something we need to discuss. It seems it is part of maybe it is part of the rhetoric. Maybe I misunderstand this. Is it simply about generating a sense of the fact that  WADA is doing something, we're forward thinking, we're thinking about these problems and making clear to the public that this is what we're doing. But at every year over the last 15 years people  within WADA have said: This is a problem we have to deal with. And the funding going into from their side, but also our side of it, suggests this is a serious concern. So I am surprised that you would say this, but I accept what you have said about the fact that gene therapy hasn't been particularly effective or successful in any medical sense, and the assumption is that until it is at least effective in a medical sense we wouldn't even dream of using it in a non-therapeutic context. 
The caveat to that is there is no capacity to embrace its use within a non-therapeutic purpose because, as with other  medical devices or methods or treatments, the limits of their regulation is in the precise terms of that therapeutic application. So, by implication, anything used out with those terms is  considered to be unethical and unreasonable for  scientists to be involved with. But the reason to put Lee Sweeney's quote up there is to show that people working within this field regard that the effective use of these next-generation therapies requires stepping back from the idea that there is something called "the natural course of aging" and intervene much earlier in life to benefit from  those interventions later in life. When you get into that, for me that is a completely radical point for many people who think that, no, we get old and we die, and that's it. We might do some fixing along the way with some medicine, but the direction of travel for the project of western medicine [PAUSE] I was going to say "is immortality", but the less radical way to put that is this ongoing pursuit of interventions. And hopefully these interventions will be safer, but they need to happen earlier in life rather than later. You don't get to 70 and then start your gene therapy to deal with the problems you face, it has to be earlier on, and that is a big shift, I think, in how people will feel about it.
Sorry, that was a long response.

PROFESSOR SANDS: One more question and then we'll break to our panel. Right at the front over here.
JEAN-PIERRE MORAND: I must say that when we are listening to you it is like an abyss is opening in front of us. My reflection was the following. Sport is one aspect of life. What you are showing is touching on many, many, many more severe and more serious aspects, including who is going to be  mortal, etcetera, etcetera. Then you say the Code is a failure. But I say, looking at this, sport as a concept becomes a failure. Because sport is based on comparison of people who are more or less having an equal field, otherwise it loses completely its function and sense and a competition will like a technical fair: which is the best matching? Which was designed the best by the best genetician then, and this is our product. There I think therefore doping becomes a detail and irrelevant in such a big, vast array of ethical problems.
PROFESSOR MIAH: I'm more optimistic. 

I think that even with these technological interventions the human role in performance remains crucial and it is our task to decide which things are relevant to the test of competition and which things are not.

One of the central points of the presentation, and I was trying to draw attention to this mindful of the purpose of this event, is that there is no mechanism for that interface  between sport and society within the Code itself.

Now that might be straightforward to many people. The Code is supported by governments and other organisations and their support implies a kind of assumption that this is what we want to do. But there needs to be an interface where people are able to discuss the ideology and the values behind it. And this is especially concerning when, within the Article 18 that talks about education, there is no statement about creating or nurturing critically-engaged athletes who can defend their position and understand what it is that matters to them about doping. It is entirely, I mean, for want of a better word, propagandist in how it approaches the concept of education. Without that interface within the Code, without some provision for a dialogue interface within that Code, it is destined to  fail, I think. It doesn't fail, sport kind of happens and it takes place reasonably well, although we have these problems with it, but I do think the key point is that interface. At the moment the Code is pretty self-contained and it is about sport deciding what it wants to do and society accepting it. We need to look more broadly, I think.

PROFESSOR SANDS: Andy, a big thanks from the entire audience and from me. I think we take a moment to thank Andy for his very interesting and challenging outline of issues that we have faced and that we will face.
Andy, thanks a lot. 



Drones for Good?

Drones for Good?

Today, I published a piece on #drones for @conversationUK, which explores some of the new applications that are emerging and which were showcased at the Drones for Good international prize in the UAE last weekend. Here's the piece in full.

The Olympic Movement and New Media (2014)

The Olympic Movement and New Media (2014)


This week, a new book of mine was published by the Russian International Olympic University. Co-authored with Alexander Zolotarev and Prof Lev Belousov, the book is published in Russian and covers such areas as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, the Sochi 2014 context, and how the International Olympic Committee is re-orientating itself around new and social media.

A Deep Blue Grasshopper: Playing Games with Artificial Intelligence

A Deep Blue Grasshopper: Playing Games with Artificial Intelligence


Back when I was a PhD student, I discovered philosophy of mind and spent some of my early years wrestling with Turing’s ‘Imitation Game’ and the response of his contemporaries to the question ‘Can machines think?’ This question opens the new movie release inspired by Turing’s work and it seems a good reason to re-publish one of my papers that address the matter of how we devise the appropriate kind of test to answer this question. The paper I published was part of a collection on Philosophy and Chess and my piece 'A Deep Blue Grasshopper: Playing Games with Artificial Intelligence' interrogated the limits of the rationale mind in devising relevant tests for AI. Instead, it proposes games of greater complexity that

Whereas Turing's classic test relies on the human failure to distinguish between a computer and a human when occupying a particular role, the storytelling proposition requires a computer to make sense of second order concepts, such as joke telling. Anyway, I will let the article do the work, find below some of the key texts I have read that speak to the idea of discovering an answer to this question. These readings were my foundation for the subject:


Bloomfield, B.P. & Vurdubakis, T. (2003) Imitation games: Turing, Menard, Van Meegeren. Ethics and Information Technology, 5, p.pp.27–38.

Boden, M.A. (1998) Artificial Intelligence. In London & New York: Routledge.

Bostrom, N. (1997) How Long Before Superintelligence? Version 2.0.

Bringsjord, S. (1998) Chess is too Easy. Technology Review.

Copeland, J. (1993) Artificial Intelligence: A Philosophical Introduction, Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Copeland, B.J. Turing’s O-machines, Searle, Penrose and the brain.

Dennett, D.C. (1991) Consciousness Explained, London: Penguin.

Dyson, G. (1997) Darwin Among the Machines, London: Allen Lane.

Fetzer, J.H. (1990) Artificial Intelligence: Its Scope and Limits, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Harnad, S. (1999) Minds, Machines and Searle. Journal of Theoretical and Experimental Artificial Intelligence, 1, p.pp.5–25.

Hauser, L. (1997) Searle’s Chinese Box: Debunking the Chinese Room Argument. Minds and Machines, 7 (3), p.pp.199–226. Available at:

Hauser, L. (1993) Why Isn’t My Pocket Calculator a Thinking Thing. Minds and Machines, 3 (1), p.pp.3–10. Available at:

Kary, M. & Mahner, M. (2002) How would you know if you synthesized a thinking thing? Minds & Machines, 12 (1), p.pp.61–86.

Kasparov, G. (1997) Deep Blue wonders. The Guardian, p.p.1.

Leiber, J. (2000) On Getting Turing Wrong Perversely. Tekhnema, 6 (4). Available at:

Mainzer, K. (1998) Computer Technology and Evolution: From artificial intelligence to artificial life. Techne: Society for Philosophy and Technology, 4 (1).

Millican, P.J.R. & Clark, A. (1996) Machines and Thought: The Legacy of Alan Turing, vol 1.

Moran, F., Moreno, A., Merelo, J.J. & Chacon, P. (1995) Advances in Artificial Life: Third European Conference on Artificial Life, Granada, Spain, June 4-6, 1995 Proceedings. , 929.

Moravec, H. (1988) Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence, London: Harvard University Press.

Moravec, H. (1997) When will computer hardware match the human brain? Journal of Evolution and Technology, 1, p.p.

Penrose, R. (1995) Shadows of the Mind, London: Vintage.

Penrose, R. (1989) The Emperor’s New Mind: Concerrning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics., London: Vintage.

Piccinini, G. (2000) Turing’s Rules for the Imitation Game. Minds and Machines, 10 (4), p.pp.573–582.

Preston, D. & Taylor, D. (1996) Artificial Intelligence: An Ethical Analysis. In J. M. Kizza, ed. London: McFarland & Company, Inc., pp.267–272

Searle, J. (1980) Minds, Brains, and Programs. Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 3 (3), p.pp.417–458. Available at:

Searle, J.R. (1990) Is the Brain’s Mind a Computer Program? Scientific American, 262, p.pp.20–25.

Turing, A. (1950) Computing Machinery and Intelligence. Mind: A Quarterly Journal of Psychology and Philosophy, LIX (236, October). Available at:

Turing, A.M. (1951) Programmers’ Handbook for the Manchester Electronic Computer. Available at:

Wagman, M. Cognitive Science and the Symbolic Operations of Human and Artificial Intelligence, Westport, Conneticut: Praeger.

Bioarte: Actuacion Transhumana y Posthumana

Bioarte: Actuacion Transhumana y Posthumana


Este mes, tengo un nuevo capitulo en el primer libro del nuevo revista Teknokultura. If you like a bit of bioart and a bit of spanish, then check it out! The book is edited by Heidi J. Figueroa Sarriera, Angel Gordo Lopez, and Javer de Rivera, and includes some really awesome authors, such as Steffen P. Walz, Barbara Bolt, Langdon Winner, Steven Mentor.  

Ethics, Science, Technology, and Engineering:  A Global Resource

Ethics, Science, Technology, and Engineering: A Global Resource


This month sees the launch of a second edition book, for which I have written an article on Sports. Here's an excerpt from my chapteR:

"This debate parallels broader transformations to the world of health care and medicine that are reshaping the human condition. As societies become better equipped to deal with age-related illnesses, the lines between therapy and enhancement blur, and the feasibility of keeping athletes free from doping becomes harder. In short, we all may be doped in the future, in order to ensure longer, healthier lives. One solution for sport may be a separation of “enhanced” and “unenhanced” athletes into distinct competitions, but the result may be that audiences lose interest in unenhanced athletes because enhanced superhuman athletes will deliver the most extraordinary spectacles. Alternatively, as prosthetic technologies improve, the category of doping changes. The inclusion of Oscar Pistorius within the London 2012 Olympic Games program—not just the Paralympic Games—spoke to this wider shift in how we understand the terms abled and disabled, as prosthetic and bionic limbs become better than their biological counterparts."

The full reference for the text is:

Holbrook, J. Britt, and Carl Mitcham, eds. Ethics, Science, Technology, and Engineering: A Global Resource, 2nd edition. 4 vols.Farmington Hills, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2015.

Understanding Digital Health

Understanding Digital Health


I have just published a new article with Dr Emma Rich, which writes about how we should think about the rise of mHealth. It is published in the Open Access journal societies, so it's free to download. Here's the abstract:  

Abstract: This paper argues on behalf of a public pedagogy approach to developing a critical understanding of digital health technologies. It begins by appraising the hitherto polarised articulations of digital innovation as either techno-utopian or techno-dystopian, examining these expectations of technology and considering the tensions between them. It subsequently outlines how a public pedagogy approach can help mediate between these views, offering a more contextualised, socio-political perspective of mHealth. This approach teases out the nuances of digital health by engaging with the complexities of embodied learning. Furthermore, it urges caution against viewing these pedagogical forces as one of transference, or simple governance. To this end, we therefore contextualise our critique of digital health, within an attempt to reconstitute an understanding of public pedagogies of technology.
Keywords: public pedagogy; mobile health; mHealth; digital health; body; prosthetics; technology; learning

Justifying Human Enhancement: The Accumulation of Biocultural Capital (2013)

Justifying Human Enhancement: The Accumulation of Biocultural Capital (2013)

Miah, A. (2013) Justifying Human Enhancement: The Accumulation of Biocultural Capital, in More, M. & Vita-More, N. The Transhumanist Reader: Classical and Contemporary Essays on the Science, Technology, and Philosophy of the Human Future, Wiley-Blackwell. MORE INFO

Here are the editors talking about the book...

Extract of my Chapter

The argument on behalf of biocultural capital claims that the pursuit of human enhancements is consistent with other ways in which people modify their lifestyles and is analogous in principle to buying a new mobile phone, learning a language, or exercising. It is a process of acquiring ideas, goods, assets, and experiences that distinguish one person from another, either as an individual or as a member of a community. While one might – and should - scrutinize the merits of such individual choices, we should recognize the limits of this task. Furthermore, the argument for biocultural capital considers that it is unreasonable for enhancement choices to be imposed upon individuals by the state. The normative transhumanist concept of morphological freedom emphasizes this prohibition. (More, 1993; Sandberg 2001) While general consensus on enhancements might have legal force, they will not necessarily have universal persuasive value – not everybody would wish to be tall, stronger, or whatever it may be - since enhancements only confer positive value within particular cultural contexts. As such, the precise value attached to any particular enhancement cannot be assumed to be a shared, universal good, particularly where choices of enhancements involve a trade-off.

The argument from biocultural capital explains that the designation of a biological modification as a human enhancement does not correspond with some prescribed or abstract value claim. There is no necessary “good” that, in itself, can be objectively identified to justify (or reject) enhancements. For instance, if I were to enhance the efficiency of my digestive system to allow me to assimilate foods that are generally shown to be unhealthy, it is difficult to argue that this is a tangible enhancement, other than through its allowing me to satisfy the desire of always wanting to eat foods that I find tasty but which would, otherwise, be unhealthy. While such a modification would be beneficial to me, it is unlikely to withstand the scrutiny of those who have no such desire. Such a choice also faces the criticism that one’s taste cannot develop in a positive sense if one closes off the potential to find value in experiencing other tastes. So, if I were a twelve year old and really like McDonald’s food, I might enjoy enhancing my metabolism to assimilate such food, rather than to treat it like junk food. In doing so, by failing to choose alternative foods, I also restrict the possibility of developing tastes for other foods.[7] Yet, again, it seems premature to panic too much about such a prospect. Rather, it may emerge that one’s taste develops alongside such new alternatives to consumption and that moderation will thus emerge.

Importantly, and as enshrined in the idea of morphological freedom, this argument on behalf of human enhancements does not extend to the freedom to modify others – for example, through genetically engineering embryos. Rather, this argument presents an initial position as to why certain obstacles towards human enhancement may be overcome by acknowledging the limits of concerns over rationalizing medical resources and avoiding a slippery slope towards undesirable circumstances, I have endeavored to explain the value of pursuing self-regarding, biological enhancements and, as such, to suggest why such freedom of choice should not be withheld.

In conclusion, asking why we should enhance ourselves limits the discussion prematurely. It prescribes a particular kind of moral justification, which would explain a choice that makes sense only in the particular case. However, treating such actions as micro-ethical processes, contrasts with the macro-ethical task of regulating the commercial and non-medical use of such interventions. In short, via this argument, one cannot offer a good reason for why all people should enhance themselves in a specific way, since each reason would require embedding the clause within a particular context that another individual might not deem to be valuable at all. So, understanding the value of improving attention span or enhancing sexual function would require understanding the specific context that give rise to such an interest. Instead, one may give reasons for why a motorcyclist might value an enhancement to protect the durability of her head, or why a ballerina might welcome enhanced strength in specific parts of her body, or why a mathematician or a chess player should value cognitive enhancements. These are all sensible human enhancements for particular kinds of people, but are not generally good enhancements for all kinds of people.

The rise of a privately funded human enhancement market and the possibility of commodifying life are each relevant moral concerns that should concern the governance of such industries.  While a publicly-funded system for human enhancements may be preferable to a privately-funded one, areas of human desire are always likely to outweigh the limited funds available to accommodate such desires on a nationally funded system, even if one can aspire to a certain level of social care throughout a population. As such, it is sensible to presume that a transhuman future will be brought about within a commercial structure, though as argued earlier there are reasons to presume that some forms of enhancement will eventually ease the burden on a national health care system, by ensuring more people are less vulnerable to common illnesses.

Spaces for Consumption

Prof Steven Miles at the University of Brighton (formerly @ Liverpool) just published his excellent new book on cities. It has some particularly good photography in it from yours truly, notably what you see below. Go out and purchase:

Beijing Airport New Terminal by Normal Foster 2008

MTV European Music Awards Liverpool 2008

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles 2008

Met Quarter, Liverpool, 2008

Coca Cola Sponsor Venue, Beijing 2008, Olympic Green, 2008

Paris in Las Vegas, 2006

Culture @ the Olympics

In advance of Vancouver 2010, we've relaunched the website of C@tO. We'll be taking 10 people to VAncouver to report the lesser known dimensions of the Games, from Olympic Truce to Cultural Olympiad.

Genetically Modified Athletes: The Book by Professor Andy Miah

Geneticaly Modified Athletes was published in 2004 by Routledge and was translated by the Brazilian publisher Phorta in 2008.

This website provides comprehensive information about the book and the subject of gene doping in sport. To navigate, select 'Genetically Modified Athletes' from the categories in the right hand side of the page.


“GMA provides a comprehensive analysis of how genetic technology will be used to enhance sports performance, and how our existing framework for dealing with the problem of sports doping is inadequate on both practical and ethical grounds.” Prof. Francis Fukuyama, PhD, Johns Hopkins University

“Andy Miah provides an incisive analysis of some of the most difficult issues facing anti-doping authorities. The research is thorough, the argument is perceptive and the conclusions are challenging. Compulsory reading for anyone interested in the future of anti-doping policy." Prof. Barrie Houlihan, PhD, Loughborough University

[GMA] is a must-read for anyone who considers seriously the future of sports performance, and the position of gene science in establishing an exciting yet level terrain for athletes. It at once calls our attention to social constructionist understandings of the body as a mediator of cultural values, and at the same time, highlights a series of sobering thoughts (at least for social scientists) about sports bodies as genetically determined. Ultimately, the text is invaluable for researchers seeking an advanced institutional analysis of how sports policies regarding the body are developed, promulgated and resisted within sporting institutions, and informed by social processes (that is, the techno-medical development of human bodies) emanating far away from sports fields. Dr Michael Atkinson, Sport in Society

It will play a vital role in future debates regarding both the ethics of genetic manipulation and, more generally, of doping and performance enhancement. The book should be read and considered carefully by scholars in sports studies, bioethicists, sport-policy makers, coaches, administrators, journalists, and, perhaps most importantly, athletes. Dr Ian Ritchie, Sociology of Sport Journal.

Miah understands better than the majority of us how tomorrow’s world may look. A glimpse into tomorrow’s world, where the convergence of nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science-NBIC are becoming daily realities, might make us think that Miah’s opinion is plausible. Dorin Festeu, European Sports Management Quarterly

Miah's book is a thought-provoking read that raises important questions about sport and society. It is a truly boundary-crossing piece of work, one within which students and scholars in a number of disciplines, from sociology and law to sports studies, will find much material to mine. Guy Osborn,  Times Higher Education Supplement

Whether the notion of genetically modified athletes (or genetically modified humans in general) fills the reader with utopian joy or dystopian dread the book is of interest to a range of disciplines, uniting sports studies with interdisciplinary bioethics and policy discussions.blurred" Mark Anthony Cutter, Genomics, Society and Policy

"Genetically Modified Athletes can be highly recommended to readers interested in doping, anti-doping policies and sport, but first and foremost bioethics Dr Inge Kryger Pedersen, Scandinavian J of Medicine and Science in Sports

Genetically Modified Athletes is a book of great importance to both athletics and the greater society. In not taking a firm moral or political position, Miah forces the reader to come to grips with a rapidly changing world in which the line between science and science fiction is blurred" Melissa Donais, Yale Journal of Public Health

"This extremely interesting book is a must for everyone who takes the ethics in sports is compulsory reading for anyone interested in the future of the athletes and the sports in the forthcoming 'era' of genetically engineered sports person." Fadil Ozyener, MD, PhD, University Medical School, Turkey for Journal of Sports Science and Medicine

"I believe that Miah's book should be compulsory reading on all Sports Medicine courses because it will promote debate, challenge consensus and make people think.' Prof. Dr. Andy Smith, FBASES, York and St John College for British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine Today

Select list of Academic Citations/Reviews

  1. Mazanov, J. (2009). "Without bounds: A cosmopolitan research agenda for drugs in sport." Sport in Society 12(3): 411 - 422.
  2. Mazanov, J. (2009). "Debating the role of drugs in sport: a reader." Sport in Society 12(3): 296 - 312.
  3. Mazanov, J. and V. McDermott (2009). "The case for a social science of drugs in sport." Sport in Society 12(3): 276 - 295.
  4. McNamee, M.J. (2008) Sports, Virtues and Vices. Oxon and New York, Routledge.
  5. Kious, B. M. (2008). "Philosophy on Steroids: why the anti-doping position could use a little enhancement." Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 29: 213-234.
  6. Stein, D.J. (2008) Philosophy of Psychopharmacology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.118.
  7. More, Pete. (2008) Enhancing Me: The Hope and the Hype of Human Enhancement (Science Museum TechKnow Series), John Wiley & Sons, p.249.
  8. Christian Lenk, Nils Hoppe & Roberto Andorno (2007) Ethics and Law of Intellectual Property: Current Problems in Politics, Science and Technology (Applied Legal Philosophy), Ashgate, p.84.
  9. Heinemann Educational Publishers (2007) Perspectives on Science: The History, Philosophy and Ethics of Science.
  10. Kok, F. (2007) Personalized Nutrition: Principles and Applications, p.167.
  11. Green R.M. (2007) Babies by Design: The Ethics of Genetic Choice. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  12. Petróczi, A. (2007). "Attitudes and doping: a structural equation analysis of the relationship between athletes' attitudes, sport orientation and doping behaviour Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 2(34): doi:10.1186/1747-597X-2-34.
  13. Davids, K. and J. Baker (2007). "Genes, Environment and Sport Performance: Why the Nature-Nurture Dualism is no Longer Relevant." Sports Medicine 37(11): 961-980.
  14. Mitchell, C. B., E. D. Pellegrino, et al. (2007). Biotechnology and the Human Good. Washington, DC., Georgetown University Press.
  15. TWINE, R. (2007) Thinking across species - a critical bioethics approach to enhancement. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, 28, 509-523.
  16. D'ANDREA, A. C. (2006) Federalizing Bioethics. Texas Law Review, 83, 1663.
  17. Houlihan, B.M.J. (2006) GMA Review, European Physical Education Review, 12(3), 382-384.
  18. Foddy, B. (2006), 'The ethics of genetic testing in sport', International SportsMed Journal, 7, 3, 216-224.
  19. Cavanagh, S. L. and H. Sykes (2006). "Transsexual Bodies at the Olympics: The International Olympic Committee's Policy on Transsexual Athletes at the 2004 Athens Summer Games." Body & Society 12(3): 75-102.
  20. Parks, J. B., J. Quarterman, et al., Eds. (2006). Contemporary Sport Management (Third Edition). Champaign, IL., Human Kinetics.
  21. Sheridan, H., B. Pasveer, et al. (2006). "Gene-Talk and Sport-Talk: A View from the Radical Middle Ground." European Journal of Sport Science 6(4): 223-230.
  22. Culbertson, L. (2006). "Book Review: Genetically Modified Athletes." Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 33(1).
  23. Tamburrini, C. (2006). "Are Doping Sanctions Justified? A Moral Relativistic View." Sport in Society 9(2): 199-211.
  24. Atkinson, M. (2006). "Book Review: Genetically Modified Athletes." Sport in Society 9(1): 172-175.
  25. Shanks, Pete. (2005) Human Genetic Engineering: A Guide for Activists, Skeptics and the Very Perplexed, Nation Books.
  26. Moates, A. (2005). "Sports Medicine and Ethics." Chisholm Health Ethics Bulletin 11(2): 6-9.
  27. Pincock, S. (2005). "Gene Doping." The Lancet: Special Supplement on Sport and Medicine 366(S18-S19).
  28. Belyaletdinov, R.R. (2005) Divnyi novyi sport (Brave New Sports), Chelovek, #5, 169-173 [Russian Academy of Science]
  29. Jonsson, Kutte. (2005) Cyborgatleterna äh här?! Om genus, “genfuskare” och idrottens hybrider, Idrottsforum, 1-13.
  30. Ellliott, C. (2005) The Soul of a New Machine: Bioethicists in the Bureaucracy, Cambridge Quarterly for Healthcare Ethics; 14:4. 379-384.
  31. Ian Ritchie (2005) Book Review." Sociology of Sport Journal, 22, 239-241.
  32. Osborn, G. (2005). Uphill race for GM sprinters? Book Review. Times Higher Education Supplement. London: 24.
  33. Cutter, A. M. (2005). "Book Review." Genomics, Society and Policy 1(2): 94-96.
  34. Festeu, D. (2005) Book Review, GMA, European Sport Management Quarterly, 5(1), 95-97.
  35. Cashmore, E. (2005) Making Sense of Sports. London & New York: Routledge
  36. Donais, M. (2005) Book Review, Yale Journal of Public Health
  37. Pederson, I. K. (2005). "Book Review." Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports 15: 65-66.
  38. Jönsson, K. (2004). "Genetiskt modifierade idrottare." Idrottsforum 26 October:
  39. Hilvoorde, Ivo van. (2004) Topsport en gendoping. Grenzen aan sport, opsporing en geloofwaardigheid. In Krisis. Tijdschrift voor empirische filosofie, 5(4), 5-21.
  40. Ozyener, F. (2004). "Book Review:." Journal of Sports Science and Medicine 3: 197.
  41. Hosta, M. (2004). "Book Review of Genetically Modified Athletes." Druzboslovne Razprave 20(46).
  42. Turner, L. (2004, August 13). Book Review: Ready, Steady…Modify, The Lancet 364:9434, pp.573-4.
  43. Tooby-Smith, A. (13 July, 2004) Gene Doping, British Association of Sports Medicine Today, 2.
  44. McNamee, M. J. (2004). "Philosophy of Sport." Nursing Philosophy 5(2): 182-183.
  45. Córdova, M. Á. (2004). ATLETAS TRANSGÉNICOS: ¿MITO O REALIDAD? Presente: Diario Del Sureste. Mexico:

Journal of Medical Humanities

Miah, A. (2006). "Doctor, Can You Fix My Broken Heart?" Journal of Medical Humanities 27(2): 127-129.This article began after watching the wonderful film 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' directed by Michel Gondry. It was not the first time I have thought about the way film can convey ethical issues related to medical technologies. One of the other films that sticks in my mind is Extreme Measures. There are many more and this review essay is now being developed into a more substantive article for an edited volume by Sandra Shapsay entitled 'Bioethics through Film', which will be published with Johns Hopkins University Press.

Is sport winning the war on drugs? (The Guardian, 2 August, 2006)

Miah, A. (2006). Is Sport Winning the War on Drugs? No. The Guardian. London: p.7. The press is in a bit of a frenzy this week over the doping issue. I arrived back in the UK to receive a bunch of calls from journalists wanting to interview. One of these was Duncan MacKay at The Guardian who asked me to write a response to the above question. The piece is published in today's Guardian alongside the counter position written by Dr John Scott at UK Sport.

Genetic Technology and Sport: Ethical Questions

Ethical Questions On Friday 5th May, Claudio Tamburrini and Torbjorn Tannsjo launched the new Routledge title on Gene Doping. I have a chapter in this book on some of the recent debates surrounding the subject and the book covers a range of issues as yet not discussed by previous literature. The launch took place in Oxford at a project meeting of the ENHANCE project. I don't think I've ever been to a meeting where I've known quite so many people this well. It was great to catch up with old friends. I look forward to the next one.

PS: The most exciting aspect of the meeting was learning about Cludio's new movie, but more on that later!

PPS: the reference for my chapter in the book:

Miah, A. (2005). Gene Doping: The Shape of Things to Come. Genetic Technology and Sport: Ethical Questions. C. Tamburrini and T. Tannsjo. Oxon and New York, Routledge: 42-53.