The race for biomedical and genetic enhancement will-in the twenty-first century-be what the space race was in the previous century, according to members of the World Future Society. Scientists can already screen fertilized human eggs for 1,000 genetic disorders. Within a decade, researchers will be able to detect most of the world’s congenital diseases in the embryo; this could will enable humans to live to ages of two hundred years old. Some genetics expert predict science will soon be able to genetically “enhance” embryos with the potential for super-intelligence, phenomenal strength, or preternatural ability. What is possible? What are the moral and ethical implications of these new technologies?
Arthur L. Caplan, Director of the Center of Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, will address these and other questions at WorldFuture 2009, the annual conference of the World Future Society.
“In recent years, many thinkers and policy makers have made it clear that they are unnerved by the prospect of people bioengineering themselves to enlarge their breasts, smooth out their wrinkles, mellow their moods, pep up their memories, and otherwise engage in self-improvement or enhancement,” says Caplan. “What are the best arguments for and against seeking self-improvement through medicine, genetics, bioengineering, and biochemistry?”
Caplan is the author or editor of twenty-five books and more than 500 papers in refereed journals of medicine, science, philosophy, bioethics and health policy. He is the recipient of many awards and honors including the McGovern Medal of the American Medical Writers Association, Person of the Year-2001 from USA Today, one of the fifty most influential people in American health care by Modern Health Care magazine, one of the ten most influential people in America in biotechnology by the National Journal and one of the ten most influential people in the ethics of biotechnology over the past ten years by the editors of the journal Nature Biotechnology. He writes a regular column on bioethics for MSNBC.com.
WorldFuture 2009: Innovation and Creativity in a Complex World, the annual conference of the World Future Society will take place July 17-19, 2009 at the Hilton Chicago, Chicago, Illinois Professional Members’ Forum: July 20, 2009.
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