Yes, nanoscience can enhance humans – but ethical guidelines must be agreed
People ‘enhanced’ into spider-climbing individuals with hugely projected breasts and Einstein-brains… Where will it stop?
Engineers are trained to try to figure out how to achieve things that humans cannot and in nanoscience and nanotechnology that challenge is no different.
Many of the most exciting advances in the field try to improve human incapacities with things such as memory, hearing, stamina or intellect. In my field of nanomedicine, the notion of human enhancement is, in a lot of cases, a way to deal with disease: enhancing vision, cognitive functions or improving a person’s ability to move independently.
I have always found the relationship between technology and its use to “aid” or “enhance” human capability intriguing because there is a fine line beyond which all kinds of ethical alarms go off. Where does human enhancement against true pathological conditions or disabilities end?
Thoughts like these were on my mind last autumn on a plane to Taiwan, when I watched the latest movie version of one my favourite comic-book heros, Spider-man. The main character, a very normal, scientifically talented and altruistic teenager (who truly wants to save the world) is bitten by an experimental transgenic spider, which results in his transformation into a man-spider hybrid. This concept is a classic method used in science fiction to explain the creation of characters with super-human powers. Interestingly, the transformation almost always occurs after exposure to different agents perceived as “dangerous” – Spider-man with an unintended bite by a transgenic spider, the Hulk by intentional exposure to external beam radiation. Interactions with human-machine interfaces have also been exploited in science fiction numerous times with the most recent example that of Iron Man (or Robocop and Total Recall for those of a more distant era). (via Yes, nanoscience can enhance humans – but ethical guidelines must be agreed | Science | guardian.co.uk)