Human enhancement and technological uncertainty : Essays on the promise and peril of emerging technology

Abstract: Essay I explores brain machine interface (BMI) technologies. These make direct communication between the brain and a machine possible by means of electrical stimuli. This essay reviews the existing and emerging technologies in this field and offers an inquiry into the ethical problems that are likely to emerge.Essay II, co-written with professor Sven-Ove Hansson, presents a novel procedure to engage the public in deliberations on the potential impacts of technology.  This procedure, convergence seminar, is a form of scenario-based discussion that is founded on the idea of hypothetical retrospection. The theoretical background and the results of the five seminars are presented.Essay III discusses moral bioenhancement, an instance of human enhancement that alters a person’s dispositions, emotions or behavior. Moral bioenhancement could be carried out in three different ways. The first strategy is behavioral enhancement. The second strategy, favored by prominent defenders of moral enhancement, is emotional enhancement. The third strategy is the enhancement of moral dispositions, such as empathy and inequity aversion. I argue that we ought to implement a combination of the second and third strategies.Essay IV considers the possibility and potential desirability of sensory enhancement. It is proposed that existing sensory modalities in vertebrate animals are proof of concept of what is biologically possible to create in humans. Three considerations on the normative aspects of sensory enhancement are also presented in this essay.Essay V rejects disease prioritarianism, the idea that the healthcare system ought to prioritize the treatment of diseases. Instead, an approach that focuses on what medicine can accomplish is proposed.Essay VI argues that from the idea that species have an intrinsic value and that humanity has a collective responsibility to protect animal species from extinction, the conclusion that we ought to recreate species follows.Essay VII argues that unknown existential risks have not been properly addressed. It proposes a heuristic for doing so, and a concrete strategy. This strategy consists in building refuges that could withstand a large number of catastrophic events.