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About this author
Zack Lynch is author of The Neuro Revolution: How Brain Science Is Changing Our World (St. Martin's Press, July 2009).
He is the founder and executive director of the Neurotechnology Industry Organization (NIO) and co-founder of NeuroInsights. He serves on the advisory boards of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies, Science Progress, and SocialText, a social software company. Please send newsworthy items or feedback - to Zack Lynch.
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June 5, 2006

Human Enhancement - A View From Washington

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Posted by Zack Lynch

main_logo.gifHere is an interview I gave with United Press International last week after my talk at the AAAS Human Enhancement meeting in Washington D.C. Mark Frankel, the meeting organizer, did an excellent job of bringing together many knowledgeable speakers from across the ideological spectrum.

WASHINGTON, DC, United States (UPI) -- Since the advent of simple tools, humans have been expanding their capacities. Cognitive enhancement dates back to the written word, a primitive process for downloading information from our minds to the hard drive of parchment.

The technological and medicinal enhancement of human ability should then be part of a continuum of progress. This is evolution -- or is it?

'Humans have always been toolmakers, and this is just the next set of tools that humanity has developed to help us live longer, happier, more fulfilling lives, and like any set of tools, they can be used for constructive or destructive purposes,' Zack Lynch, managing director at NeuroInsights, an economic and social forecaster and adviser on neurotechnology, told United Press International.

He spoke Thursday at an American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Washington, where experts met to discuss the issue of human enhancement.

Technology such as employee brain scans to test for honesty, art exhibits that tinker with viewers` senses, memory erasure to expunge the memory of torture and neurowarfare could exist within 10 to 15 years, Lynch said.

Certain human enhancements have already filtered into society and are generally accepted. Botox, Prozac, laser eye surgery and even caffeine stimulation from Starbucks change how our bodies and minds function. Students use Ritalin as a study aide.

And steroid use and blood boosting, though illegal practices, are major issues in the world of sports. In fact, many worry that enhancement will take the place of effort.

'While no one may deserve their success if they achieve it without effort, no one deserved their natural talents either,' said Max Mehlman, professor of law and bioethics and director of the law-medicine center at Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland.

However, the President`s Council on Bioethics issued a report in 2003 that stated, 'Many people believe that each person should work hard for his achievements.' People admire those who overcome obstacles even if they prefer the grace of natural talent, the council authors wrote.

The debate on the effects of enhancement on character extends into the religious arena as well. (more here)

Comments (6) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NeuroWave 2050


COMMENTS

1. Kensai on June 9, 2006 3:38 PM writes...

"Technology such as employee brain scans to test for honesty, art exhibits that tinker with viewers` senses, memory erasure to expunge the memory of torture and neurowarfare could exist within 10 to 15 years, Lynch said."

To be totally frank with you, I think this kind of applications in only 10-15 years is rather optimistic, but without doubt in that time frame many more 'neuromodulation' approaches (both for well-known maladies and simple neuro-augmentation) shall be tested/trimmed for final commercial approval.

Constantine.

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